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The ’logic’ of war has been destroyed
Eisenhower's ’thermonuclear revolution’ at work between Russia and the US in Ukraine
“With such weapons, war has become, not just tragic, but preposterous.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower on nuclear arms, August 23, 1956
In 1956, three years into his first term, President Dwight Eisenhower, citing what he called a “thermonuclear revolution,” declared that “War no longer has any logic whatsoever.” In his now famous “Atoms for Peace” speech before the United Nations on December 8, 1953, Eisenhower said:
“The United States pledges before you, and therefore before the world, its determination to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma—to devote its entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life.”
In his final years as president, Eisenhower turned his full attention to transforming nuclear technology into a force for peace and the advancement of civilization.
By contrast, Joe Biden, in a little reported action March 25, 2022, following a months long nuclear posture review by US military and weapons experts, discarded a campaign promise to forego both a first strike nuclear option and the preemptive use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear threats.
The next day, March 26, in Warsaw, during a European visit with NATO ally Poland, in front of an audience of 1,000 people, Biden called for “regime change” in Russia during what the White House billed as a “major speech.” Biden’s handlers spent the next week trying to walk back his comments, but it was a rare moment of unintentional honesty by a habitually corrupt political hack.
Expressing disappointment at Biden’s policy reversal, Shannon Bugos, a senior policy analyst at the Arms Control Association, said (ibid):
“The sobering reality is that it would take just a few hundred U.S. or Russian strategic nuclear weapons to destroy each other’s military capacity, kill hundreds of millions of innocent people, and produce a planetary climate catastrophe.”
Now, seven months later, Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened the US with the use of tactical nuclear weapons over Ukraine, citing a nuclear weapons “precedent” set by the US bombing of Japan at the end of WW II.
Simultaneously, Israeli intelligence on September 30, reported the “irregular presence” of Russian TU-160 and TU-95 strategic bombers capable of carrying cruise missiles and strategic nuclear weapons deployed at the Olenya Airbase near Finland. There were no strategic bombers present at the airbase on August 12th.
These actions follow statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a September 24, UN press conference in New York that all Russian laws and doctrines, including the nuclear doctrine, will apply to recently annexed territories of Ukraine. Lavrov noted that “by providing Kyiv with weapons, the USA, the European Union and NATO cannot claim to have a neutral status.”
The Biden administration, and many nuclear weapons experts sympathetic to their strategy, believe that Putin is “bluffing” and will not use “tactical” nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Tactical nukes are theoretically designed for battlefield use, not strategic deterrence based on the doctrine of mutually assured destruction.
However, the nuclear doctrines of both the US and Russia rest on a highly dubious set of assumptions and distinctions in weapons types that is nearly meaningless, if not outright deceptive. For example, the supposedly “tactical nuclear weapons” that Putin is threatening to use in Ukraine range as high as 100 kilotons. The “strategic” Hiroshima nuclear bomb was 15 kilotons.
An Associated Press “explainer” on Putin’s nuclear threats brings home the madness at play in the Ukraine war:
Sergei Karaganov, a Moscow political analyst who advised the Kremlin on foreign policy, said Russia “can’t afford to lose in Ukraine,” adding: ”Our enemies should realize that they have put themselves and the entire world on hell’s brink.”
Karaganov hinted that Moscow could even ponder an escalatory option of striking a NATO ally.
“I’m 99% sure that if a nuclear strike is launched on one of the European countries supporting Ukraine, the U.S. won’t use nuclear weapons,” he said. “It would take a madman in the White House to respond to a limited use of nuclear weapons by Russia with a nuclear strike. Or a person who hates America and [is] ready to sacrifice, say, Boston for Poznan.”
Joe Biden has responded to Putin’s most recent threats to use nukes by imposing new sanctions on Russia and pledging to sign a bi-partisan emergency Congressional bill to provide an additional $12 billion in military aid to Ukraine. This adds to $54 billion in US military aid already allocated, bringing the total to $64 billion in less than six months. The staggering total is roughly equivalent to Russia’s entire annual military budget of $65.9 billion.
REGIME CHANGE & NUCLEAR WAR vs. NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT
Leaving aside for a moment the question of whether the Biden administration intentionally provoked Russia with the aim of inciting their February 24 invasion of Ukraine, the US engineered a March 2 UN resolution within a week condemning the invasion and demanding a withdrawal of Russian troops. By mid-March, US military aid was already being sent to the Ukrainians.
The US has consistently opposed attempts to broker a negotiated end to the Ukraine war, such as those by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has accused the Biden administration of pursuing “a policy based on provocations.”
Yet amidst the nuclear bluster and doomsday rhetoric between the Biden and Putin regimes, there are other voices speaking out to demand a negotiated end to the Ukraine war. In the last two weeks of September 2022, at the UN General Assembly in New York, representatives from 66 nations “…used their General Assembly speeches to call urgently for diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine through peaceful negotiations, as the UN Charter requires.”
On September 25, both China and India issued statements at the UN calling for a negotiated end to the Ukraine war.
China’s statement declared that “China supports all efforts conducive to the peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis. The pressing priority is to facilitate talks for peace.” The Chinese call for a “peaceful resolution” is significant because they are Russia’s most powerful ally.
India’s UN representative said that, “India is on the side of peace and will remain firmly there. We are on the side that calls for dialogue and diplomacy as the only way out.”
Putin is clearly trapped in Ukraine, but Biden’s shoddy and incompetent team of foreign policy handlers, the same group who engineered the Iraq War and the catastrophic Afghan withdrawal, is playing a dangerous game of intentional nuclear brinksmanship.
Russia has nearly 2,000 “tactical nuclear weapons,” more than any other nation on earth. The US has 200. Tactical nukes are not covered by arms treaties of any kind. Toying with a wounded and cornered Vladimir Putin bristling with both tactical and strategic nuclear arms is a foolish, no win strategy.
Tragically, all parties to the Ukraine war are dug into hardened positions which make negotiations difficult. The US is the only nation with sufficient military might and across the board political influence in Ukraine, NATO and China to broker a negotiated end to the war. But this is unlikely as long as both Biden and Putin remain wedded to their end of days mindsets and matching inflammatory rhetoric.
The temperate wisdom of Eisenhower has never looked more appealing.
I have been writing about the renewed nuclear threat and exporing proposed solutions and calls to action for the past year, especially since March 2022. Links to articles examining the history and modern reality of collective nuclear madness from three different perspectives follow.