A Reality Check for Certain People


I have a friend who, among other things, is against a national gun registry. This is partly because he seems to think that criminals might get access to the list and use that as a guide on what houses to steal guns from, though one would think if they knew there were guns in a house, they might avoid it.

The other reason is fear of invasion. Yes, he seems to believe that an enemy power might someday invade the United States, and we’d lose, and they’d use the gun registry to keep people from joining the Wolverines. He seems to think that’s a legitimate excuse to avoid doing something that might help reduce the gun deaths in this country, which have numbered nearly a million in the last 30 years or so.

This is a very weak argument. Using the excuse that we might someday get invaded by someone who somehow beats us is is very odd, not to mention rather unpatriotic. It’s at least as weak as saying we shouldn’t have gun control laws because criminals will just break those laws (by logical extension, we should therefore not have any laws, since criminals would just break them).

Complete fiction. Not reality. Do not base laws on this movie.

Complete fiction. Not reality. Do not base laws on this movie.

Anyhow, this “America being invaded and losing” thing is very odd. It’s the theme of the remake of Red Dawn, and plays at least a small part in Olympus Has Fallen. There’s just one minor problem with this concept: in our reality it will never happen.

For us to be invaded and occupied by an enemy force, we first have to have an enemy force that meets the following qualifications. They have to have the desire to invade and occupy our country. They have to have the ability to invade us. They have to have the capacity to occupy us. Now let’s look at these qualifications one at a time.

DESIRE:

I have do no doubt that the leaders of certain countries harbor wonderful fantasies about invading and occupying the United States, though more likely most of them just have some vague idea of “destroying” America, ignoring the fact that with the War on Terror we’re doing a good job of destroying ourselves. Having the desire is the first step, and it’s one that I’m sure many people have taken.

ABILITY:

In order to invade a country the size of the United States, millions upon millions of troops will be required. Turning to Wikipedia we find, after about 45 seconds of searching, an article that lists the sizes of various nations’ armed forces. Let’s have a look, shall we?

If we sort this list by “active military” we find China has the largest number with about 2.3 million soldiers. America is second. North Korea, who for some reason has become our boogeyman of choice lately, is fourth, ahead of Russia, but behind India. None of these numbers seem especially large nor interesting, so let’s instead sort by “total”, which includes active, reserve and paramilitary.

Well, doing that is much more interesting, yes? Suddenly Russia has 22 million active and potential soldiers, while North Korea jumps up to number two with about 9.5 million. The US is a lowly number seven, with a mere 2.3 million. Surely, then, we’re screwed if any of the nations with more soldiers (which includes Iran, India, China, Vietnam and South Korea), decides to invade us, right?

Wrong, and here’s why. In order to get the required number of troops to the United States mainland, a number which would have to be in the millions, whatever country decides to bring them here would have to have a way to do so. Now when we invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, we did so with a large number of soldiers, but that was only after quite a long time of setting up forward operating bases and mobilizing our military to physically get them into staging areas. That is not an option that any invading country would have. So they’d have to basically fly all their soldiers in.

Looking on Wikipedia, I find out that the best air transport option is the Antonov An-225. I don’t see anything on there about exactly how many soldiers it can carry, but let’s be extremely generous and assume that it can carry 3,000 soldiers plus all their equipment.

Let’s say that the goal is to take a US port city and hold it as a beachhead. The best choice is likely to be Long Beach, which means that the city in question is Los Angeles. We’ll say that somehow the enemy is able to get their hands on an airport and starts flying in soldiers. If we assume one million soldiers are needed to take and hold Long Beach, Los Angeles and the surrounding areas from Bakersfield to San Diego (not an unreasonable number, given that we used about 1/4 of that number to take Iraq, a place that’s far less densely populated), then that would mean they would have to have 333 flights of 3,000 soldiers each arriving here. That isn’t an impossible number, but remember that my estimate of how many people can be carried on the plane is probably way high, so my number of required flights are probably way low.

That’s assuming, of course, that all the flights get in and land successfully and are then able to offload their troops. More than likely maybe, maybe a few would get onto the ground and then the rest would be shot down. You see, we have these large winged vehicles known as “fighter jets”, and these “fighter jets”, many of which are based in California, are quite capable of shooting down large, slow-moving targets like transport aircraft.

There is just no realistic scenario by which an enemy nation is, at this point in our history, successfully able to invade the USA. Even if I put them at a more “invasion friendly” place like, say, one of the smaller ports along the West Coast, or some place like Alaska or Hawaii, they odds are still insanely high against them actually taking, much less holding, these places.

This is why movies, like the remake of Red Dawn, that show the enemy invading our country have to “cheat” by having high-level EMP explosions that somehow wipe out all our military capability, despite the fact that our military electronics tend to be “hardened” against such things. In any event, I can pretty much guarantee that any invasion would have a timeline like this:

00:01 – Some country decides to invade and sends over a few ships or planes loaded with troops which then arrive and start attacking.

00:03 – We notice this.

00:45 – The entire invasion fleet is wiped out on the ground or in the air by drones, planes, ships at sea and attack submarines.

01:00 – The enemy nation ceases to exist as all their major cities are turned into glow-in-the-dark parking lots.

01:01 – The “Mission Accomplished” banner is hung up outside the White House.

And please notice my use of the phrase “some country”. That’s because Russia, China and India have no motivation to invade us. Russia is too busy with their own problems. China hasn’t been very expansionist except economically (where they are dominating in South Asia and Africa, because don’t really care about doing business in South Asia or Africa). Besides, we buy too much of their goods. We can, in theory, live without China. China cannot live without us. And India wouldn’t are invade us because a: we are their ally and b: as soon as they take their eye off Pakistan, they lose some land. That’s the same reason we don’t need to fear Pakistan invading us.

As for North Korea, fuck North Korea. Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame recently posted up a tweet saying, “Things that have more computing power than a North Korean missile. #1: My dishwasher.” Bill Maher had this to say on North Korea.

He also compared them with a chihuahua barking at you from inside a parked car. They pose zero (0) threat to us here in the USA. Now they do pose a threat to South Korea, but, so far at least, China is sitting on North Korea and forcing them to behave, more or less. This is because they know the result of a war between the Koreas would be North Korea losing and unified US ally with borders on China. For North Korea to try and invade the USA, they’d first have to secure South Korea and since that won’t happen, an invasion of the United States won’t happen.

CAPACITY:

Now onto the third point. Let’s say that somehow some country does indeed invade the United States and somehow wins. Now they have to occupy our country which is about 3.7 million square miles in size. By contrast Afghanistan is 251,000 square miles and Iraq is 170,000. With the large number of soldiers we’ve had over in Iraq and Afghanistan we’ve barely managed to keep a lid on the countries.

I don’t know how many millions of soldiers would be required to hold down a country the size and scope of the United States, but I suspect the answer is “a lot”. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever even tried to hold down a hostile nation our size. I strongly suspect that the North Korean army, comprised largely of undernourished midgets, is not going to be the first to pull it off.

CONCLUSION:

The reality is that no one who can invade us wants to. Those who might want to, can’t. Even those who might want to at some future point, and could, wouldn’t be able to keep a lid on us for any length of time. Even if there were a realistic chance of this happening, it’s still a bad idea to base our laws on this hypothetical. We know that right now about 30,000 Americans are killed by guns every single year, and about 900,000 Americans in the last thirty years. If this were because of terrorism, we would have dealt with it long ago. But because it’s guns, we haven’t, and we need to.

Universal background checks are the bare minimum of what we need. If that leads to a national registry, who the fuck cares?

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