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More on the Ukraine War

Today I have to offer only 2 decidedly inferior works, but they are not entirely useless because they do focus in on what I believe to be the crucial point in the current international system: the Ukraine war and the threat of nuclear conflict. First we have an incredibly rambling and jargon-laden article titled “American and Russian “Firebreaks”: Survival Risks of Asymmetrical Nuclear Doctrine” (which, amidst a sea of clichés, ironically proclaims that “it is high time for fewer clichés”). It does, however, make the important point that Soviet nuclear doctrine did not consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons as a crucial inflection point that would inevitably lead to global nuclear war; for them, tactical nuclear weapons use was an acceptable extension of conventional military means and would not be seen as a tripwire into inevitable nuclear holocaust. I don’t know if this is true (or whether Russia’s current leadership still holds the same principle), but it is the kind of thing that worries me, because I don’t think the U.S. would view it the same way (whatever our official doctrine).

The second article is an announcement of a Schiller Institute conference (now past) called “The World on the Brink: For a New Peace of Westphalia.” For those who are not aware, the Schiller Institute is a LaRouchite organization beyond the fringes of intellectual discourse. They make frequent reference to the Peace of Westphalia and have been at the top of Google’s search results for that term. I stopped reporting on them years ago because I don’t think they should be taken seriously, but I thought I would mention this one because it highlights the same things I have been saying: the West is so involved in aiding Ukraine that we are nearly at war with Russia; Ukraine is not winning; and Russia is threatening to escalate to a tactical nuclear conflict. I don’t think these points gain any weight by being stated by the Schiller Institute, but they are true and it frightens me that hardly anyone in the West seems to be aware of them.

I would add just one thing as a footnote. I read a book about Cold War nuclear strategy last year and, in an otherwise balanced assessment, the author questioned whether there was any sense in speaking of “tactical” nuclear weapons. I think there is, and fairly obviously so. Any nuclear explosion, even a relatively small one, is going to do a lot of damage and leave fallout; that much is true. However, if you can’ t distinguish between nuclear weapons used to destroy an enemy’s conventional fighting capacity and nuclear weapons used to destroy either an enemy’s own nuclear arsenal or his cities, I feel like you have lost the ability to discuss nuclear strategy at all. Clearly tactical nuclear weapons are in a different category. They are still horrible but the world can recover from their use, although the potential for escalation to strategic nuclear weapons is drastically elevated once tactical nuclear weapons have been employed. The best antidote is to make peace so that there is no occasion to need them. Yes, this means unpleasant choices about Ukraine’s population — although being forced to live under a Russian government is not nearly as tragic as, for example, being forced to live until Nazi Germany. But even this unpleasant choice is far better than anything that would follow the use of nuclear weapons.

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