I have covered enough wars to know that once you open that Pandora’s box, the many evils that pour out are beyond anyone’s control. War accelerates the whirlwind of industrial killing. The longer any war continues, the closer and closer each side comes to self-annihilation. Unless it is stopped, the proxy war between Russia and the U.S. in Ukraine all but guarantees direct confrontation with Russia and, with it, the very real possibility of nuclear war.
Joe Biden, who doesn’t always seem to be quite sure where he is or what he is supposed to be saying, is being propped up in the I-am-a-bigger-man-than-you contest with Vladimir Putin by a coterie of rabid warmongers who have orchestrated over 20 years of military fiascos. They are salivating at the prospect of taking on Russia, and then, if there is any habitation left on the globe, China. Trapped in the polarizing mindset of the Cold War — where any effort to de-escalate conflicts through diplomacy is considered appeasement, a perfidious Munich moment — they smugly push the human species closer and closer toward obliteration. Unfortunately for us, one of these true believers is Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“Putin is saying he is not bluffing. Well, he cannot afford bluffing, and it has to be clear that the people supporting Ukraine and the European Union and the Member States, and the United States and NATO are not bluffing neither,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned. “Any nuclear attack against Ukraine will create an answer, not a nuclear answer but such a powerful answer from the military side that the Russian Army will be annihilated.”
Annihilated. Are these people insane?
You know we are in trouble when Donald Trump is the voice of reason.
“We must demand the immediate negotiation of a peaceful end to the war in Ukraine, or we will end up in world war three” the former president said. “And there will be nothing left of our planet — all because stupid people didn’t have a clue … They don’t understand what they’re dealing with, the power of nuclear.”
I dealt with many of these ideologues — David Petraeus, Elliot Abrams, Robert Kagan, Victoria Nuland — as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. Once you strip away their chest full of medals or fancy degrees, you find shallow men and women, craven careerists who obsequiously serve the war industry that ensures their promotions, pays the budgets of their think tanks and showers them with money as board members of military contractors. They are the pimps of war. If you reported on them, as I did, you would not sleep well at night. They are vain enough and stupid enough to blow up the world long before we go extinct because of the climate crisis, which they have also dutifully accelerated.
If, as Joe Biden says, Putin is “not joking” about using nuclear weapons and we risk nuclear “Armageddon,” why isn’t Biden on the phone to Putin? Why doesn’t he follow the example of John F. Kennedy, who repeatedly communicated with Nikita Khrushchev to negotiate an end to the Cuban missile crisis? Kennedy, who unlike Biden served in the military, knew the obtuseness of generals. He had the good sense to ignore Curtis LeMay, the Air Force Chief of Staff and head of the Strategic Air Command, as well as the model for General Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove,” who urged Kennedy to bomb the Cuban missile bases, an act that would have probably ignited a nuclear war. Biden is not made of the same stuff.
Why is Washington sending $50 billion in arms and assistance to sustain the conflict in Ukraine and promising billions more for “as long as it takes”? Why did Washington and Whitehall dissuade Vladimir Zelensky, a former stand-up comic who has been magically transformed by these war lovers into the new Winston Churchill, from pursuing negotiations with Moscow, set up by Turkey? Why do they believe that militarily humiliating Putin, whom they are also determined to remove from power, won’t lead him to do the unthinkable in a final act of desperation?