If the United States is nuked, it will likely be a single device from a terrorist state, probably no bigger, and possibly smaller, than the Hiroshima bomb.
Such an attack would still be a calamity of the first order. Dozens of city blocks would be obliterated, a much larger area would be severely damaged, and casualties from blast, fire and nuclear flash burns would number in the thousands at least. Preparations of the duck-and-cover variety would cut that number significantly.
The federal government is already publishing advice on sheltering from fallout and surviving a nuclear blast. As W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told The New York Times five years ago, “We have to get past the mental block that says it’s too terrible to think about.”
Well, as Iran moves closer to getting its own nuclear devices, and with the likelihood that other Middle Eastern countries will follow suit, the world may not be moving any closer to a Dr. Strangelove style global cataclysm, but the likelihood that we’ll see a nuclear weapon set off in anger somewhere seems to be growing. So far, though, our attention seems to have wandered. It’s good that, whatever its problems on the diplomatic front, the Obama Administration is looking at ways to protect us from those failures’ consequences at home.