There is a wonderful (if it can be called that) discussion of nuclear war going on at Talk Polywell.
I'm not going to reprise the discussion. However, I'd like to give you some educational resources. First Wretchard's Three Conjectures. Which discusses what a rogue attack (terrorist) with a nuclear weapon would mean in terms of response.
Second are three very interesting articles by a gentleman who seems to know the inside of planning for nuclear war and its aftermath.
Nuclear Warfare 101
Nuclear Warfare 102
Nuclear Warfare 103
So actually we have two lessons of threes. Why didn't I just say four or six? I like three.
What is the worst thing I learned? It would take the world 200 years to recover from all out nuclear war. And which society would be best positioned to recover? The USA. Why? The Right To Keep and Bear Arms. I must say that the society that we would have after such a war would be very, very, ugly for at least the first 50 years, and not so pretty for 150 years. And the first year or two after? Look at the triage performed in Nuclear Warfare 103. Old women would be the least valuable members of society and young women (the most valuable) would be dedicated to breeding.
And if the attack was one sided? Kiss Islam good by. As Wretchard says in his Three Conjectures it wouldn't even take an attack on the USA. Here is a discussion of what almost happened after 9/11 and the follow on policy that evolved.
The threshold had almost been crossed. However that may be, we now know from National Security Presidential Directive 17 that a terrorist WMD attack, including biologicals and chemicals, will go over the line:The upshot of all this? An Iranian nuclear weapon is more dangerous to Iran than it is to the rest of the world. They are much safer without one. Much safer. One can only assume that their desire to nuclearize is a death wish. The jihadis keep saying that they love death more than life so it figures. They may get their wish to die for Allah. En mass."terrorist groups are seeking to acquire WMD with the stated purpose of killing large numbers of our people and those of friends and allies -- without compunction and without warning. ... The United States ... reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force -- including through resort to all of our options -- to the use of WMD against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies."Some reports have suggested that the US would preemptively use tactical nuclear weapons -- bunker busters -- to destroy terrorist WMDs. We're no longer in Kansas. In the halcyon days of the Cold War Soviet boomers would cruise the American coast with hundreds of nuclear weapons unmolested by the US Navy. Now a single Al Qaeda tramp freighter bound for New York carrying a uranium fission weapon would be ruthlessly attacked. The taboo which held back generations from mass murder has been mentally crossed by radical Islam and their hand gropes uncertainly for the dagger.
Here are some other good resources that will help in figuring the aftermath:
Makers vs Takers
Decline and Fall
Cross Posted at Classical Values