By Kai Bird
The ambiguous threat of nuclear war isn’t a viable strategy. But nuclear clarity is, explains Bird:
“Despite Biden’s pretense of strategic ambiguity, he clearly is not going to fight a nuclear war over Ukraine. And while it may be an official secret, our own generals know that nukes of any size are not viable military weapons. Since Americans are clearly not going to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, why not say so?”
“Instead, we should be making it very clear to Putin that not even the use of tactical nukes will deter the Ukrainians from resisting the Russian invasion. Such clarity now might persuade Putin that he cannot expect to reap any political gains from the use of tactical nukes. It may seem counterintuitive, but we can deter Putin from using tactical nuclear weapons by proclaiming now that we will never use them ourselves on the Ukrainian battlefield.”
In reality, tactical nukes are not a solution for the unprecedented moment we face. If even one tactical nuclear weapon is used by Russia, the strategies Washington should deploy include redoubling its supply of conventional weapons to the government in Kyiv; bolstering economic sanctions with a complete embargo; and indicting Vladimir Putin at the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
While post-Cold War NATO expansion was a mistake—even a provocation—it neither justifies nor explains Putin’s war of aggression. We should take every opportunity to bring an end to this war through negotiations.
Read the full piece here.
ABOUT: Kai Bird (@Kaibird123), a member of The Nation’s editorial board, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (co-authored with Martin J. Sherwin). A historian and journalis and the Executive Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography, he is also the author of acclaimed biographies of Jimmy Carter, Robert Ames, John J. McCloy, McGeorge Bundy, and William Bundy. Learn more at kaibird.com.
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