Nuclear weapons are among the most destructive and terrifying weapons ever invented by humans. They have the potential to wipe out entire cities, cause massive casualties, and trigger long-term environmental and health effects. The threat of a nuclear war is always looming, especially in times of geopolitical tensions and conflicts.
But which states in the US are most likely to be targeted by a nuclear strike, and why? This article will attempt to answer this question by considering three factors: strategic value, population density, and proximity to potential adversaries.
The first factor to consider is the strategic value of a state, which refers to its importance for the military, economic, or political interests of the US or its enemies. A state with a high strategic value would be more likely to be attacked, as it would either cripple the US’s capabilities or advance the enemy’s objectives.
Some examples of states with high strategic value are:
Washington DC: The capital of the US and the seat of the federal government, Washington DC is the most obvious target for a nuclear strike. It hosts the White House, the Pentagon, the Congress, and many other vital institutions and agencies. A nuclear attack on Washington DC would cause immense chaos and damage to the US’s leadership, security, and governance.
California: The most populous and economically powerful state in the US, California is home to many major cities, industries, and military bases. It also has a large and diverse population, with many ethnic and cultural groups. A nuclear strike on California would severely affect the US’s economy, society, and defense.
Hawaii: The only state that is not part of the contiguous US, Hawaii is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and serves as a strategic outpost for the US military. It hosts the headquarters of the US Pacific Command, the US Indo-Pacific Command, and the US Pacific Fleet. It also has historical significance, as it was the site of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, which triggered the US’s entry into World War II. A nuclear strike on Hawaii would disrupt the US’s presence and influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
The second factor to consider is the population density of a state, which refers to the number of people living in a given area. A state with a high population density would be more likely to be attacked, as it would cause more casualties and suffering.
Some examples of states with high population density are:
New Jersey: The most densely populated state in the US, New Jersey has about 1,218 people per square mile, according to the 2020 census. It is also located near New York City, which is the largest and most populous city in the US, and a major global hub for finance, media, and culture. A nuclear strike on New Jersey or New York City would kill or injure millions of people, and create a humanitarian and environmental crisis.
Massachusetts: The third most densely populated state in the US, Massachusetts has about 894 people per square mile, according to the 2020 census. It is also home to Boston, which is one of the oldest and most historic cities in the US, and a center for education, innovation, and health care. A nuclear strike on Massachusetts or Boston would affect many institutions, industries, and communities, and have a lasting impact on the US’s culture and identity.
Maryland: The fifth most densely populated state in the US, Maryland has about 626 people per square mile, according to the 2020 census. It is also adjacent to Washington DC, and hosts many federal agencies, such as the National Security Agency, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense. A nuclear strike on Maryland or Washington DC would compromise the US’s intelligence, research, and military capabilities, and endanger many public servants and civilians.
Proximity to Potential Adversaries
The third factor to consider is the proximity of a state to potential adversaries, which refers to the distance and accessibility of a state from the countries or regions that pose a nuclear threat to the US. A state that is closer or easier to reach by a nuclear missile or bomber would be more likely to be attacked, as it would reduce the time and resources required for the enemy to launch and deliver a nuclear strike.
Some examples of states that are close or accessible to potential adversaries are:
Alaska: The largest and northernmost state in the US, Alaska is located near Russia, which is the only country that has more nuclear weapons than the US, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Alaska also shares a maritime border with Canada, which is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance that is often seen as a rival by Russia. A nuclear strike on Alaska would demonstrate Russia’s nuclear capability and challenge the US’s and NATO’s security and deterrence.
Florida: The southeasternmost state in the US, Florida is located near Cuba, which is a communist country that has a history of hostility and conflict with the US, dating back to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, triggering a nuclear standoff with the US. Florida also hosts several military bases and facilities, such as the US Southern Command, the US Central Command, and the Kennedy Space Center. A nuclear strike on Florida would target the US’s military and space operations, and potentially provoke a response from Cuba or other Latin American countries.
Texas: The second largest and second most populous state in the US, Texas is located near Mexico, which is a neighbor and a trade partner of the US, but also a source of tension and controversy, especially over the issues of immigration and border security. Texas also has a large and diverse population, with many ethnic and cultural groups, especially Hispanics and Latinos. A nuclear strike on Texas would disrupt the US’s economy and society, and affect the relations between the US and Mexico.
In conclusion, the three states that are most likely to be at risk in a nuclear strike on the US are Washington DC, California, and Hawaii, based on their strategic value, population density, and proximity to potential adversaries. However, this is not a definitive or comprehensive list, and there are many other factors and scenarios that could influence the likelihood and impact of a nuclear attack on the US. Therefore, it is important to be aware and prepared for the possibility of a nuclear war, and to work towards preventing and reducing the nuclear threat, both nationally and internationally.