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Consider the following, modern-day scenario:

Question:

What would be a likely method where a US president+family+deputies could initiate and survive a thermonuclear exchange and govern afterwards?

Edit: Removed question on prevention, and made the question more impersonal.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting question, but would you be able to spit this Question so that there's only one question per Question? Also be careful to avoid asking questions about actions of individual characters, which your first question is possibly bordering on. Thanks $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Jan 3 '17 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ I am confident there is already a protocol for protecting the President and family in the event of a nuclear strike or attack. As for post war they are only leaders of a few people. $\endgroup$ – paparazzo Jan 3 '17 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ Another possibility is Russian/Chinese targeting of those states in retaliatory strikes. Australia for example: smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/… $\endgroup$ – Justas Jan 3 '17 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that such a place exists, in the long term. If you get a nuclear war going, you're going to run into nuclear winter across the entire globe no matter where those nukes land. Good luck growing anything under five years of skies filled with ash; not enough sunlight to really grow crops, much colder besides. This is the sort of thing generally believed to have killed off the dinosaurs (there caused by a massive asteroid impact) and this would have radioactive dust as well. The president might survive, but there won't be a country left to rule over. $\endgroup$ – Palarran Jan 3 '17 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ According to some of my friends we should find out within the next year :P $\endgroup$ – dsollen Jan 3 '17 at 22:13
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There have been a couple of close calls during the Cold War (e.g. 1979 and 1983). They were prevented by officers who questioned the data on their screens.

So how to trigger a crisis and push it over the edge?

  • Create an international crisis. The staff of the strategic forces should feel on edge. Send of some tweets which belittle the Russian president, order the Air Force to enforce a no fly zone over Syria, etc. Order DEFCON raised to 2.
  • Create an attack warning. Since solar flares and computer errors are hard to simulate, how about intelligence warning about a bomb smuggling operation?
  • Start moving to "an undisclosed location" and then order the "preemptive" strike.
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  • $\begingroup$ +1. Any thoughts on how the president could live/govern after engineering such crisis? $\endgroup$ – Justas Jan 4 '17 at 20:59
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It's highly speculative about whether or not the president can do it. Some will say he can, and some will say he won't. Technically, the two man rule is in place (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-man_rule) where the president needs someone else to help him launch.

But you can always say that the "authority of the president" forced people to launch weapons. On top of that, there is a bunker for all presidents that they can use in case of nuclear war.

So to answer your question, with a few loyal deputies and pulling the strings in the right places, the president could easily launch a nuclear war and be completely fine.

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    $\begingroup$ From the Wikipedia article you linked: "The two man rule only applies in the missile silos and submarines; there is no check on the president's sole authority to order a nuclear launch." The idea that an underling might disobey orders is a very different concept than the two man rule. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jan 5 '17 at 5:45
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"of which, the president and his family/deputies would be the new leaders"

The chances of this happening are not 100%. An alternative form of government if any gov at all will probably replace the current systems everywhere in the world.

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