With Russian nationalism on the rise, troops and armor massed on the border of the Ukraine, and vitriolic rhetoric burning up the airwaves between Moscow and Washington, there is little doubt that the Cold War is once again very real. Russia has at least three thousand deliverable nuclear weapons, and the United States has somewhere around that number– more than enough to plunge the word into a nuclear winter. There seems to be the perception that the old Cold War doctrines of “Mutually assured destruction,” or MAD, and detente have fallen by the wayside and are no longer relevant, but that is not the case. The world is still a scary place, and right now, it’s the scariest it’s been since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The problem stems not only from the leadership,but from the people.
In the United States, President Obama is frequently called weak by the opposition. A casual stroll through social media will reveal a myriad of memes and posts declaring that the Commander in Chief is afraid of Putin, and that the United States should be doing more, whether in the Middle-East, or in Crimea. Conversely, within Russia, Putin is trying to shore up support for himself, and is appealing to lingering vestiges of pride many Russians still feel about the Soviet Union. This is a recipe for disaster. Two leaders squaring off with nuclear weapons, trying to prove a point.
Putin’s overly virile posturing, chest thrusting, bombastic aggressiveness might be laughable in other circumstances, yet the hawks within the U.S. seem to fixate on Putin’s pushiness and conclude that by comparison, President Obama is a weakling. Many of these people, including some of our elected officials, seem to think putting boots on the ground in Eastern Europe is a wonderful idea, that the United States should send more Aircraft Carriers into the region, including the Black Sea, and perhaps threaten direct military action backed by airstrikes and missiles. These hawks within the United States seem to have never cracked a history book, and they continue to howl about Obama’s capitulations, weakening the administration further, reducing our ability to act in a sensible fashion and further emboldening Russia. It’s ironic, and maddening. The notion that political dissension stops at the borders and does not extend to foreign policy is one of those Cold War rules that has indeed fallen away, and this makes the current international situation more volatile.
Yet the U.S. has imposed the toughest economic sanctions against Russia since the Cold War (technically) ended. The United States has two carrier groups in the region, and recently sent ships into the Black Sea.
Russian fighter jets buzzed a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea, flying at a mere five hundred feet above the deck. Russian long range bombers have frequently violated U.S. airspace off the coast of Alaska. Subs carrying nuclear weapons engage in games of cat and mouse beneath the oceans, just off our shores. We can hope clear heads prevail. We can pray that some twenty-year-old sailor or pilot or soldier doesn’t make a mistake, a single push of a button which could unleash World War Three. That’s how it starts.
A global nuclear war will make all other wars in human history seem tame by comparison. What keeps me awake at night is that many people seem to have forgotten this.
Enjoy the Apocalypse!