Why aren't you terrified?
If you're not terrified, you must be mad.
For the first time since nuclear weapons were invented, the leader of one major nuclear power has threatened the other with a first nuclear strike.
During the Cold War - what a cheery, comforting war that now looks like! - both sides understood and brought into the concept of MAD, mutually assured destruction. It meant that no matter who started nuclear war, the end result would be the total destruction of both countries. In other words, deterrence. No Cold War leader ever threatened a first strike. The only worry was making sure you spotted the others' first strike in time.
By threatening a first strike if the West intervene militarily in Ukraine, r because he doesnt like the colour of Liz Truss's hat, Putin implies that he thinks Russia could win a nuclear war by striking first and survive, more or less. This means deterrence has failed. It means we are nearer nuclear war than at any time in history.
Of course, Russia would not survive a nuclear war, as an organised state or society. Which leads to a second and even more terrifying thought. Supposed Putin recognises this. Is it possible that his mystical nationalism and his obvious love of war and destruction have merged, as did Hitler's in his final days, in a belief that the complete destruction of his nation will somehow be worthwhile, if at the same time he completely destroys the enemy? Is he or some part of him, deliberately willing the suicide of this civilization, in the name of revenge on the West?
Putin is like a hostage taker, who has wired all his hostages to bombs, holds the button in his hand, and has already killed several. He says that any attempt to rescue and he will detonate the lot. But is it possible he means to do this anyway?
Our one hope is that there is amongst the top Russian military and civilian leadership, or even Putin's bodyguard, a man who can see this madness in him even more clearly than we can, and is not in favour of the destruction of the world, and would quite like to carry on living, his family also, and is brave enough to shoot him.. That's ironic. A Russian is threatening to destroy the world, and only a Russian can save us.
Now tell me, why are you not terrified?
9/3/2022 11:03:40 am
Julian, I share your fear that we are entering a period of risk unknown in our lifetime. It is illuminating that it seems only those of us that lived through the Cuba crisis appreciate how different the carefully calibrated rules of MAD were from today's anarchy. The other thing that is different now is the availability of tactical nuclear weapons. My fears are enhanced by the unreliability of the USA. Who could confidently assert that if Putin turns on one of the Baltic states next the USA would automatically come to its defence? Putin may calculate that a limited nuclear war in Europe is a risk worth taking. Very frightening indeed.
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I was formerly Finance Director of the Prison Service and then Director of the National Offender Management Service responsible for competition. I also worked in the NHS and an IT company. I later worked for two outsourcing companies.
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