"World War III"
If engaging Russia militarily will per se lead to the end of the world, then why would we ever intervene to stop Putin anywhere, even against a NATO ally or an attack on the US mainland?
It’s time we had a talk about World War III.
Vladimir Putin has made great hay over the claim that if NATO gets involved militarily in Ukraine, it will be “nuclear war.” And sadly, the West has fallen for Putin’s bluff, hook, line and sinker. President Biden has repeatedly claimed that engaging Russia militarily will lead to “World War III,” a euphemism for the end of the world.
As an aside, “nuclear war” and “World War III” are longtime Soviet, and now Russian, propaganda talking points used to scare the West into accepting whatever Moscow dictates.
Now, why do I call it a bluff? Because, since the Soviet Union developed nuclear weapons some 73 years ago, they’ve never once used them, when they had ample opportunity. If the Soviets, and now Russia, would have/will use nukes if cornered, then why didn’t they during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Why didn’t they when the Mujahideen kicked their butts out of Afghanistan in the late 1980s? And why didn’t they when Ronald Reagan repeatedly challenged them, quite aggressively, during that same decade?
And for that matter, if Russia having nukes means per se we should genuflect before them, then why didn’t we let Russia station nukes in Cuba? Are things somehow different today? But let’s assume things ARE different now: That Putin has lost mind, that he could go nuclear at any moment, and that President Biden is correct for repeatedly saying that a direct military engagement with Russia would mean “World War III.” That means under no circumstance would NATO ever take Russia on militarily in the future, lest Moscow nuke the world. Is that really the message we want to be sending?
Think about it. If engaging the Russian military directly means “World War III,” and the end of all life on the planet, then no Russian aggression would ever merit a NATO military response. Surely, any appeasement is better than extinguishing all life on Earth. Let’s say Russia invades Poland. That’s 38 million NATO citizens at risk. But are we sure that NATO would invoke Article V of the NATO charter, which says an attack on one is an attack on all? Again, we’ve been told that engaging with Russia militarily will force Russia to go nuclear, and thus end the world. Surely, losing 38 million Poles is a better outcome than 7.8 billion worldwide?
The same goes for the Baltic countries, Germany, France, or the UK. And for that matter, Alaska. I have no desire for Alaska’s 736,000 citizens to become Russian, but it’s a small price to pay if the alternative is extinguishing all life on the planet in a Russian nuclear fireball.
Where does it all stop?
I’m not being facetious. If you seriously believe that any direct military engagement with Russia per se leads to the end of the world, then there is nothing Russia could do, short of itself launching nukes at DC, that would merit the US and NATO getting in their way. (And even then, writing off 800,0000 people in DC is better than the guaranteed obliteration of the entire world.)
I understand why President Biden felt it important to telegraph to Putin that NATO wouldn’t engage Russia directly. Biden felt, probably correctly, that being clear about our actions, and inactions, would better avoid conflict between the two nuclear superpowers. But didn’t we at the same time give Putin free rein to do whatever he wants inside Ukraine — no matter how horrific — and ultimately, worldwide? (What if Putin sets up concentration camps? Are the ovens really preferable to the alleged threat of “nuclear war”?)
Again, I go back to NATO’s Article V. No president is going to war if they think it will lead to the end of life on the planet. And Putin knows it, because we just told him. That’s why I think that, while NATO has done an amazing — historic, really — job sanctioning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, we’ve also emboldened Putin at the same time. Putin now knows that no matter what he does in Ukraine, we will not respond militarily. And if I were Putin, I’d be licking my chops right about now, and eyeing Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
And maybe even an Aleutian island or two.
PS I’ve been posting Ukraine war updates, like gangbusters, over on my TikTok account, and am doing a daily LIVE briefing on the latest news, and taking questions. You can check it out here.