The Blob, the Washington foreign policy establishment, is playing with nuclear war. So what if Russia goes nuclear in Ukraine? We will just pile on even more sanctions, make Russia more of an outcast, and tell her she must grovel in the dirt to be readmitted to the concert of powers. Some are going further: the lead op ed in the April 28 Wall Street Journal, by former deputy undersecretary of the Navy Seth Cropsey, was titled, “The U.S. Should Show It Can Win a Nuclear War.”
No, it can’t. A single nuclear weapon detonated on one American city would do this country more damage than it has suffered in all its wars to date. No foreign policy goal can justify such a price. No threat to our “credibility,” no diplomatic humiliation, no “abandonment of our allies” can outweigh the consequences of a single American city getting nuked. Not only would we suffer tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Americans killed by the blast, and far more doomed to radiation sickness, we would have a collapsed financial system and economy, a completely discredited government and quite possibly a revolution or devolution as people withdrew their allegiance to a state that had brought catastrophe upon them.
What is the danger of this happening? Unfortunately, it’s fairly high. The course of events leading to it is already taking place in Ukraine. Russia and her armed forces have been humiliated by the failure of their initial campaign in Ukraine. They have regrouped and are trying again, with more limited goals. As of writing this (May 1), the outcome of the second Russian offensive is unclear, but it seems to be making slow progress at best. If it fails, the initiative is likely to pass to Ukraine as the shift will be a natural event after a defense succeeds. But in part, it will also be because of U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine. At some point, the shift may permit Ukraine to go on the offensive.
What does Russia do then? What does President Putin do to save his neck? Near the top of the list will be escalating by using tactical nuclear weapons. Where does the escalation stop?
A wise U.S. and NATO foreign policy establishment would now be building a golden bridge over which Russia can retreat rather than going nuclear. Asking itself the question, “What would Bismark do?”, it would call a conference in, say, Vienna. A deal could look something like this:
Ukraine sells the portions of Luhansk and Donetsk that had already declared their independence to Russia, along with a narrow land corridor connecting them to Crimea (which remains Russian). The price is high enough to make a substantial contribution to re-building Ukraine.
Ukraine agrees not to join NATO unless Russia also joins. That would leave open the door to the alliance Christendom needs, one running from the U.S. Pacific coast to the Russian Pacific coast, oriented south.
Russia agrees to Ukraine joining the EU.
Russia cedes East Prussia (the “Kaliningrad Oblast”) to Ukraine, giving Ukraine a Baltic as well as a Black Sea outlet for her grain exports. Russia also funds building a new, high capacity railway, not running through Belarus, connecting Ukraine with the East Prussian port of Konigsberg.
What does Ukraine think of all this? It doesn’t matter. In true Bismarkian style, the great powers make the deal and inform the smaller powers what they are going to do. Otherwise, no deal is possible in cases such as this.
And in Vienna, let the ball commence. A word to my good friends in Sweden. Sweden is considering joining NATO. Don’t do it. The reason Sweden still has Stockholm’s Old City, the wonderful 18th century dockyard at Karlskrona and much else is that it has not gone to war since 1815. As Swedes know, Sweden did almost join Germany in both World Wars. Had it done so, Stockholm would have no Gamle Stan, and Karlskrona would have been shelled or bombed flat. After their abysmal performance in Ukraine, neither Sweden nor Finland nor anyone else has much reason to fear Russia’s conventional armed forces. And even a mad Putin is not likely to nuke Stockholm or Helsinki in a neutral Sweden or Finland. Neutrality has benefitted Sweden greatly for more than two centuries. Don’t kill the chicken that has laid so many golden eggs.