What to Do When China Nukes the U.S.

Official Chinese news media are openly — gleefully! — discussing how their country’s navy can conduct nuclear attacks on the U.S. mainland. Yes, you read that right… nuclear attacks! I’ll show you one of the Chinese targeting maps below.

This is pure thunder out of China! Of course, U.S. media are burying the story. Here in the U.S., we’re more concerned with the abysmal failure of Obamacare (let alone the eponymous website) or which professional football player hazed another football player.

But nuking America? I hope that you’re concerned about getting nuked in at least a geopolitical sense. Is there a new, “Cool War” brewing with our largest creditor? More practically, what does China’s nuclear bragging mean to you? One key point is that it’s investable. So let’s follow the facts and get a better handle on what’s happening.

Here’s the background. In China, major media are state-controlled. “Beijing Big Brother,” so to speak, watches what Chinese reporters write and editors publish. Nothing controversial gets out unless the big guy upstairs — the guy with blood-red Communist Party credentials — vets it.

Thus, it’s worth noting that last week, several large Chinese media outlets simultaneously published long, identical articles about Chinese nuclear strikes on the U.S. West Coast. Here’s one of the illustrative maps, from China’s Global Times newspaper.

Chinese-published map identifying potential U.S. targets
and fallout projections.From
Global Times newspaper.

Black dots on the map identify potential nuclear targets — and there’s more on that below. Red, yellow and orange areas are fallout patterns from West Coast strikes, based on prevailing wind patterns. There’s no mistaking what’s going on.

This map depicts a nuclear attack and post-attack scenario. Indeed, the Chinese are blunt about everything. In Global Times, the author states: “Because the Midwest states of the U.S. are sparsely populated, in order to increase the lethality, [our] nuclear attacks should mainly target the key cities on the West Coast of the United States, such as Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego” (emphasis added).

Take another look at that Chinese targeting map. What do you see? From the spacing of black dots, the apparent ground zeroes are Seattle and environs. Think of target sets like Boeing and suppliers, “software valley” with Microsoft and more, the extensive Puget Sound naval infrastructure, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and others.

Down south in California, there’s San Diego and its extensive naval and other military facilities. In the middle of the Golden State, we can say farewell to San Francisco. No more Google barge, eh?

In Nevada, we’ll lose Las Vegas (aiming at Nellis AFB, I suppose) as well as Reno — no more “Top Gun” school at NAS Fallon if the bomb hits close enough.

Elsewhere in the U.S., we have dots representing a number of very odd, very unmilitary places, as target sets go: Green Bay, Wis.; Lansing, Mich.; Albany, N.Y.; Manchester, N.H.; and Augusta, Maine. It’s strange, right? But that’s what countervalue looks like.

Still, for now, let’s not dwell on the Chinese view of strategic American geography. Eventually, they’ll figure out where they want to aim the bombs and get that part right.

The point is we now have a coordinated Chinese media blast (so to speak) about nuking the U.S. mainland with what’s called a countervalue strike. This isn’t some faraway nuclear war at sea scenario, where gray hulls vaporize other gray hulls and submarine hulls get crushed by the weight of seawater.

Watercolor of Operation Crossroads — Baker Test, 1946.
U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.

Nope. The Chinese are openly discussing how to hit the homeland. We’re all at ground zero. It’s distressing when somebody rubs something like this right in your face. Then again, maybe this news will help the country lose its national lethargy and get serious. Can’t happen too soon, some might say.

In other words, the Chinese are explicitly planning to blast U.S. “key cities” and then watch as nuclear fallout kills off more of the American population. That’s just this one attack scenario. I’ll digress and mention that in technical terms, this is what’s known as a nuclear “countervalue” strategy.

In the argot of nuclear war planning, countervalue targeting makes no distinction between aiming at and hitting purely civilian activities versus military-related activities. By comparison, attacking military and mil-industrial assets is known as “counterforce.”

At root, countervalue targeting is just indiscriminate killing and destruction for the sake of killing and destruction. In the decades after the terrible events of World War II, most reputable legal scholars — at least in the West — have come to believe that countervalue violates first principles of internationally accepted law of armed conflict.

The short version is that countervalue targeting is a prima facie war crime, assuming that anyone is around to reconvene a postwar, Nuremberg-style tribunal.

The Chinese nuclear war description — describing countervalue targeting, if not an overt, premeditated war crime — didn’t come from some small, unknown, hole-in-the-wall news site or policy organization. The publisher was not, say, an elite Chinese academic source or obscure “think tank,” which is often the case when policy wonks talk with each other.

No, the Chinese nuclear war news came out in banner headlines from large media players with vast numbers of readers and/or viewers. Publishers include China’s People’s Daily newspaper, China Central TV, Global Times, China Youth Daily, Guangming Daily and PLA Daily (the official newspaper of the Peoples’ Liberation Army — PLA).

These are all major Chinese media. They cater to an educated, influential audience that matters within Chinese culture and governance. Indeed, the nuclear attack news would not/could not have come out without high-level approval from Chinese political and military authorities.

So when state-run media of a potential military opponent publishes banner headlines about nuking the West Coast of the U.S. and killing tens of millions of American people, what has to happen next? Well, adult leadership of the U.S. has to fund military systems to deter and counter that kind of unpleasantness. That’s how the world works.

Right away, it takes us to Raytheon (RTN:NYSE). Here we have a company that makes quite a bit of what the U.S. military needs to defend against Chinese submarines, missiles and much more. Raytheon makes heavyweight torpedoes (Mk-48) for U.S. submarines, as well as lightweight torpedoes (Mk-50 and Mk-54) for airborne assets.

Raytheon also manufactures sonar for tracking submarines, as well as radar for tracking ballistic missiles. Then Raytheon supplies battle management software for following rockets and warheads, as well as the Standard Missile (SM-3) for shooting them down. All that, and much more.

Or consider a company like L-3 (LLL: NYSE), which focuses on communications and signals equipment and systems. L-3 makes products that allow watchers to watch, trackers to track, leaders to lead and “deciders” to decide.

Plus, right away, this nuclear news from China reinforces the Navy’s decision to upgrade its airborne submarine tracking abilities with the P-8 aircraft from Boeing, and to continue working on directed energy weapons from a variety of contractors.

The news from China also adds emphasis to the importance of continuing the build for new submarines painted in the dark colors of the U.S. Navy. After all, the best way to find, track, control and kill another guy’s submarines is with one of your own. Or half a dozen.

This takes us to the likes of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), with its Electric Boat division in Connecticut; and Ingalls Shipbuilding — the new name for the old Newport News Shipbuilding company — with its massive yard in Norfolk, Va. Plus the vendors and supply chain, of course.

There’s much more to discuss, but that’s all for now.

Best wishes…

Byron W. King
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: The threat of nuclear war is terrifying, to be sure. But it’s naive to assume the U.S. is going to just sit back and allow China to flaunt its growing nuclear arsenal without responding in kind. And that means companies like Raytheon and General Dynamics are just the tip of the iceberg. Byron has made it his mission to discover the companies in this sector that have the most to gain. And in today’s Tomorrow in Review email edition, he gave readers a unique chance to learn more about his findings – including one must-see profit opportunity. If you’re not getting the Tomorrow in Review email edition, you’re only getting half the story. So don’t wait. Sign up for free, right here. Your next issues is just a few hours away.

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Byron King

A Harvard-trained geologist and former aide to the United States Chief of Naval Operations, Byron King is our resident gold and mining expert, and we are proud to have him on board as the editor of Rickards’ Gold Speculator and a contributor to Rickards’ Strategic Intelligence.

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