Ten Million in Ten Days?

Hard to ignore the news when the President of the United States is talking about how he could kill ten million people. And here I was planning on spending this week blogging about Prokhorovka. Anyhow, an article with a video of his comments is here: https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-boasts-afghanistan-would-be-easy-to-fix-i-just-dont-want-to-kill-10-million-people-190412501.html

His two main comments were:

We’re like policemen. We’re not fighting a war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in the week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.

I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth. It would be gone, it would be over literally in 10 days.

Well, to start with it is pretty hard to kill 10 million people.  We won’t discuss the six or so cases where people actually succeeded in doing this, they are pretty well known. None of them were done in 10 days. It would appear that the only way you could cause such havoc in 10 days would be through a massive nuclear attack. It would have to be fairly extensive attack to kill 10 million of the 35 million people in Afghanistan, especially as they are somewhat dispersed.

Is someone actually discussing this possibility inside the White House or Pentagon? I seriously doubt it.

Now, I have never been involved in estimating losses from a nuclear attack. It can be done. Each bomb or missile has a lethal radius, a less-than-lethal radius, and of course, there is radiation poisoning, nuclear fallout, and a rather extended long-term series of illnesses, as the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could recount in painful detail. It would certainly require dozens of nuclear bombs. The U.S. has around 1,800 deployed nuclear warheads.

He also said:

If we wanted to, we could win that war. I have a plan that would win that war in the very short period of time.

I do find that hard to believe, as large insurgencies have been particularly intractable. See page 47 of my book America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.


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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

Articles: 1516


  1. I think he overestimates the operational skill of the Army, see WW2, Korea or Vietnam and justifying the deployment of nuclear weapons, well this is not a world war. What he needs are capable institutions, better intelligence agencies.

  2. Chris, remember that Donald talks for emotional effect (and not necessarily to communicate anything more than “Donald is good, Donald is great”).

    Yes, Donald probably is speaking about one-sided nuclear warfare along the lines of the fictional attack upon Iraq at the end of “Deterrence” (1999 movie set in a rural diner during a blizzard in Colorado). A big difference (besides not being about the same country) is that there would be some within Iran who would desire apocalypse in order to stimulate the return of the missing imam (Imām Zamān ). Anyway, it would be a cool (or blizzardly) movie to watch while staying cool during a hot weekend.

    Meanwhile, on another front, Donald isn’t likely to threaten Putin with nuclear warfare over meddling in elections of America (although he technically should be impeached for the “high crimes and misdemeanors” as an “accomplice to the fact” for not reporting to the FBI about what he learned was being done by Russia), even though a study at Georgetown University suggests destruction of only 20% of population in America and at least 80% of population in Russia as result of nuclear warfare between the two countries.

    Anyway, it wouldn’t be all that hard to kill ten million people in Iran through nuclear warfare. However, it’s “Donald talk” …

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