There is no such thing as nuclear defense, really, in a literal sense. This is so redundantly true as to leave little reasonable doubt.
- Historically, attack trumps defense. It is undertaken at advantage and directed at weakness.
- Bombs and missiles improve; walls don’t much. Our walls are better than those at Jericho, some of them, but not be orders of magnitude
- Western countries are dotted with nuclear targets near population centers, these including both caches of arms and materials and also power plants
- Either the US or Russia could destroy the other country by detonating their missiles in their own silos, just by the creation of a nuclear winter.
Practical or faux-practical considerations of nuclear survival mostly come down to surviving an accidental attack along the (updated) lines of a Strangelove scenario or else sufficiently crippling the opposite power in a first strike so that the losses would be regarded (by whom?!) as “acceptable,” the calculation of that latter probably including special protection up to some certain point for the people making the decision.
This latter consideration is particularly frightening, given the tradition of hubris among American commanders particularly, and the obvious bullbaiting and sabre-rattling that has been going on as the MIC, hydrocarbon, finance, and nuclear industries throw their collective weight around.
One defends with nuclear arms or WMDs by creating a deterrent. So, for example, we see that the US very carefully checked and investigated Iraq for around a decade before deciding that the WMDs they had delivered to Hussein during the 1980s had deteriorated and had not been replaced. They located the remains, sent soldiers near it to experience the results, and blew it up. But they would not likely have risked the entire invasion on the possibility of a genuine WMD attack.
The deterrent works as long as no one sets the arms off–an admittedly problematic condition.
The United States clearly has plenty of technology and plenty of arms to supply a deterrent. So do the other nuclear powers, probably including North Korea. It is very hard to turn a profit on actually getting oneself bombed, even with one nuclear weapon. Among other things, it is apt to cost a lot of the “political capital” that rulers manage to gain at least at the start of conventional wars. It is also not a reasonable way to cull most of the population–even were one to imagine that such an idea were reasonable–because it will mostly kill by destroying habitat.
But we are definitely here with the spiritual or anti-spiritual descendants of Douglas MacArthur and Allen Dulles–people who would have merrily nuked Moscow and Beijing and Hanoi in one year or another and thought the idea humanitarian and prophylactic. There is no more radical or extreme idea, no more dangerous idea across the entire spectrum of politics, yet the people involved in it include those whom we often term “centrists,” simply because these are ideas espoused by the command of both major parties.
Violence tends to not engender positive or constructive change. But any measure that would effectively supplant the current cabal–heads of commerce and finance, officials elected and unelected–would be a move towards moderation.