In the News
News and Views on Ukraine Crisis
Brinkmanship and the Nuclear Threat
On February 27, reports said that Putin told his top defence and military officials to put nuclear forces in a “special regime of combat duty.” Headlines in Canada and the U.S. said, “Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert, escalating tensions.” It was termed a “dramatic escalation.” The response of the White House on February 28, however, chose to downplay the issue perhaps because it does not want attention to the fact that it is engaging in all-sided activities which are posing a serious danger of war in Europe. The White House said: “We think provocative rhetoric regarding nuclear weapons is dangerous, adds to the risk of miscalculation, should be avoided, and we will not indulge in it.”
Others are saying that Putin is doing it to up the ante and threaten NATO to pull back, or to put pressure on Ukraine to negotiate a settlement agreeable to Russia. Meanwhile, alarmist reports are also carried according to which an alleged Russian “occupation” of the mothballed nuclear facilities at Chernobyl poses a grave nuclear danger of some sort.
The fact is that since 1994, Ukraine itself no longer has nuclear weapons under its control. The U.S. is said to have 400 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) that are always armed and in a high state of readiness. Russia, like the United States, keeps its land-based ICBMs always armed and in a high state of readiness.
The U.S. and Russia both have about 2,000 nuclear weapons each always on high alert, out of arsenals of more than 5,000 each. The U.S. arsenal includes at least 100 nuclear weapons in Europe, in five NATO countries: Germany, Italy, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands, with bombers at the ready to deploy them. This seriously endangers the peoples of these countries and all of Europe.
Furthermore, on January 24, Biden put an additional 10,000 U.S. troops on heightened alert to deploy to Europe, in addition to 30,000 already stationed in Germany and 30,000 already stationed in Poland, amongst others. This includes those from the Air Force, who are largely responsible for dropping nuclear weapons, as well as 3,000 from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne which have already been deployed to Poland, stationed at the border with Ukraine.
Given all of this, it is not likely that Putin’s statement means a changed status for Russian nuclear forces or that Russia alone poses the nuclear danger.
A serious matter of concern is the dangerous game of brinkmanship which the U.S. and NATO forces have been engaging in to test Russia’s responses and calculate its combat readiness and how far it is willing to go to defend its national security. NATO expansion, ongoing escalating deployments of troops, weapons and war games threatening Russian interests and systematically backing Russia into a corner involves not only all the various threats by the U.S./NATO forces but also the hundreds of millions in arms and weaponry given to Ukraine and the huge increase in military deployments in the region.
U.S. nuclear weapons are deployed all over the world, their exact locations kept secret. They include what are called tactical nuclear weapons, whose use is being considered. U.S. president after president has said the U.S. will take pre-emptive nuclear actions including against non-nuclear states. The existence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe, especially Germany where the U.S. also has other weaponry permanently stationed as well as 30,000 troops, are not only for purposes of keeping Russia in check. They are an integral part of U.S. efforts to keep Germany and all the NATO members under its domination.
The promotion now of a nuclear threat from Russia is part of Biden’s efforts to make sure his “coalition of the willing,” as the U.S. commonly puts it, abides by U.S. command and is on high alert for military action. The promotion that it is a “dramatic escalation” is an effort to divert from U.S./NATO actions while rallying the governments and peoples of the region and the world to support further U.S. militarization and accept U.S. claims that Russia is an “aggressor.”
The notion of a “miscalculation,” is also an attempt to cause mischief. The entire U.S. set-up with nuclear weapons is designed to have such “miscalculations.” A single general in the existing chain of command regarding nuclear weapons can unleash them. The set-up is designed that way in part to keep the various armed forces united as it spreads authority among them, helping to keep all in check. It also provides potential justification for their “mistaken” use. Today, the fact that any semblance of obeying the commander-in-chief is no longer apparent, with generals speaking out of turn, contradicting the president and some refusing commands, anything is possible, as the January 6 assault on the Capitol attests. Given the unfolding civil war scenarios because of the inability of the federal executive powers to sort out the conflicts between contending private interests within the ruling class and to keep the people in line, actions in relation to Ukraine, including now the promotion of a nuclear threat, are also an effort to unite the military and its bureaucracy — something the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan failed to do. This is essential for the U.S. to go to war and stem the civil war at home, including the broad anti-war resistance by the peoples.
One of the aims of keeping the monopoly of nuclear weapons in the hands of the big powers, and their friends, is to use the nuclear threat to keep everyone in line. But the game of taking countries to the brink to test their resolve in the hopes they will buckle under is a dangerous one. The anarchy and violence which has been created, mainly by the U.S. and their “allies” all over the world, means it is no longer possible to make predictions about outcomes. The huge human productive powers that exist are out of their control and the dysfunction of their institutions also undermines their ability to predict. The rulers also act to destroy what they cannot control. This makes for a very dangerous situation. It makes the demand of the peoples of the world against increasing tensions and arming countries for war very urgent.
The effort by the U.S. and their warmongering media to now focus attention on nuclear weapons is also a means used to sideline the peoples and their resistance, to divert from U.S./NATO crimes worldwide, in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and their provocative role in setting up Ukraine as their forward base against Russia, beginning with the 2014 regime change which brought in a government obliged to U.S./NATO interests.
The peoples are to forget the existing relations that exist in the world and the reality that today it is up to the peoples of the world to provide the real problems which exist with solutions favourable to themselves. Not a single measure which has been taken by the U.S. and its “coalitions of the willing,” including the members of NATO, has sorted out the problems the people face. On the contrary, the rich get richer, the poor poorer, the refugee crises get bigger and more frequent and the failure to safeguard the natural environment has increasingly disastrous consequences. But still, we are all supposed to jump on the U.S/NATO war chariot in the name that they are liberators.
It is the peoples of the world fighting for their rights and for a world fit for humanity who can solve these problems. In the situation today, it is our duty to oppose warmongering, lies and disinformation, demand that the U.S. and NATO refrain from launching war against Russia and stop using Ukraine as a forward base to provoke and isolate Russia.
(TML Daily, posted March 2, 2022)