Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Our Strangelovian National Security Class

Risk nuclear war with Russia? Yes, when it’s not enough for Washington to wage war on Americans
Our Strangelovian National Security Class

This sobering reflection on nuclear warfare on the Policy Tensor Substack has been making the rounds. Strongly urge you to read it. Excerpts:

Whether or not the annexed territories shall be considered Russian territory is not the important question. At this stage in the conflict, the important question is not even whether Russian elites believe that preventing Ukraine from becoming a Western bulwark is a vital Russian interest; although as CIA Director Burns wrote, it is indeed “the reddest of red lines” for Russian elites. Rather, as often happens in military conflict, the stakes have risen dramatically for Russia. Russia’s entire world position is now at stake. For if Russia cannot avoid military humiliation in Ukraine, it will not survive as a great power.

Indeed, as Defense Secretary Austin spelled out, the United States’s war aim now is to “see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” That is, American officials believe, not altogether implausibly, that Russia can be cut down to size; and for all practical purposes, kicked out of the ranks of the great powers.

If there was some physical law that forbid Russian escalation to the nuclear level, this might be an attractive goal for US Russia policy. But given that Russia’s entire world position is now at stake in the conflict, this is an unwarranted assumption and an extremely dangerous one to entertain. Russia can and may well introduce nuclear weapons into the Ukraine war. It is extremely important at this conjuncture, then, to think carefully about what Russian nuclear use will entail and how the United States should respond in that scenario.

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