Biden's New Restraints on Using WMDs Could Tempt Putin to Nuke Ukraine

(AP Photo, File)

Duck! And Cover!

Those words are etched into the minds of American youngsters from the earliest days of the Age of Nuclear Weapons. As if a pair of tender, grade-school hands and a worn wooden desk wouldn’t be incinerated right along with everything else in the blast area of a Soviet-era atomic bomb.

Now, here we are nearly three-quarters of a century later talking about an off-kilter Russian leader possibly, maybe, who-knows using nuclear weapons to cover the tracks of his ignominious losing invasion of neighbor Ukraine. That’s the land that brought the world the nuclear-reactor meltdown in Chernobyl’s No. 4 reactor in the early spring of 1986.

And Joe Biden just told a Dem fundraiser that a “nuclear Armageddon” is closer today on his watch than any time since 1962.

Putin declares:

We will defend our land with all the forces and resources we have. And we will do everything we can to ensure the safety of our people.

Never mind that in almost eight months of valiant fighting, Ukrainians have shown they don’t regard themselves as Putin’s people.

Since the earliest days of the nuclear era, the use of such weapons, now many times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, has been a possible, but incomprehensible act.

That’s because both sides had them, and both sides vowed to respond in kind or worse, meaning everyone loses. That includes millions from resulting radiation far beyond the conflict zone and even lingering in future generations.

That balance was precarious but over time came to be suspiciously accepted as a kind of deadly détente. Trust But Verify.

But without much notice or announcement, that has changed. And it’s shocking.

Now, both sides have tactical weapons of mass destruction, mini-nuclear weapons in, say, an artillery shell or the back of a truck. Would the use of one or several ignite a similar or perhaps a massive response from the other side?

Frighteningly, neither leader – Russia’s Vladimir Putin nor Joe Biden – appears in full control of their faculties.

Alexander Zemlianichenko

Putin has made a series of deadly, cockamamie decisions, starting with the unprovoked February invasion and running through multiple displays of military, strategic, and logistical incompetence that have led to numerous recent retreats.

And Biden, well, where should we begin? The commander in chief overruled the military’s wise advice on the Afghan exit, which lead to a completely botched evacuation that proved both deadly for American personnel and mortifying before a global audience, including major adversaries watching closely and seeing Weakness.

Biden, who turns 80 this year, continues to demonstrate what sure looks like dementia. At a ceremony celebrating the work of a dead congresswoman, he asks where she is. After speeches, he shakes hands with invisible people. He gets lost leaving a stage.

He displays staff notes reminding him to say hello and sit down. He spends at least a quarter of his time hiding in Delaware where lists of political, business, and medical visitors are hidden.

Biden says the U.S. has troops in Ukraine when we don’t, officially. He says we’ll defend Taiwan against China, which has never been U.S. policy. He often forgets names of key Cabinet members standing next to him. And he says Putin must go, a volatile call for regime change anytime but especially during war.

Oh, and he lies at the sight of a microphone. Remember his career as a truck driver?

Sympathetic and incompetent U.S. media continue to call these “gaffes,” which they might have been when he was merely an irrelevant senator from the second-smallest state or a vice president in storage. But they’re not humorous anymore when he’s commander in chief with access to the nuclear launch codes.

Now comes indirect word from strategists and Pentagon war-gamers that the U.S. might very well not respond in kind to Russian use of nuclear weapons. Wait! What!?

Countering a nuclear weapon with another nuclear weapon would likely be seen in the West nowadays as a disproportionate response, especially if the detonation occurred in Ukraine, which is not yet a NATO member. Alliance countries are indeed arming Ukraine with modern weaponry that has currently stymied far larger and poorly-led Russian forces.

NATO thinking is preventative: If Putin conquers Ukraine, his next target would be a NATO member. Better to arrange his defeat now in a proxy war in Ukraine with a wealth of donated arms, than fight a real one later with its own troops on their homelands.

But a Putin facing national defeat and perhaps his own overthrow, or worse, could be tempted to use a tactical nuclear weapon as a last-ditch effort to prevent a Kyiv victory. It could destroy an entire Ukrainian army unit and render a large area uninhabitable for years. It carries risks for Putin too, including radiation blowing back into Russia on prevailing winds.

It would make Putin a global pariah, as if he’s not now, and perhaps, weaken support from China and India, both of which have already voiced concerns over the Russian leader’s adventure.

A broad reluctance by Biden and NATO to counter in kind is a clear signal that the major deterrent in the long-running balance of MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, may no longer be in effect with this Democrat administration.

If that is policy for the only country ever to use nuclear weapons in war, it should be Top Secret. Otherwise, it’s an invitation to someone as deep in borscht as Putin is today.


How tempting might that be for that former KGB agent, who turned 70 this week, and has his political back against the Kremlin’s gold walls in an historically ruthless land and political system where leadership term limits are not delivered by voters but by firing squads, poisons, pistol shots to the forehead, or ice ax?

This what-the-hell forfeiting of strategic leverage has become a trademark of recent Democrat presidents, who seem afraid to display American power and swagger and actually apologize for it, as Obama frequently did.

Without consulting NATO ally Poland, Barack Obama canceled an anti-missile system there as a goodwill gesture to Putin, its chief critic, in hopes a grateful Russian leader would rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Instead, Putin sold them a nuclear reactor and advanced air-defense systems.

New in office, Biden lifted Donald Trump’s economic sanctions on Putin’s NordStream 2 gas pipeline as part of the president’s campaign to cripple the U.S. fossil fuel industry. Without bargaining, Biden also lifted sanctions on Iran in hopes of luring the mullahs back to the nuclear treaty that Trump discarded as ineffective. Again, no reciprocity.

Biden made a pilgrimage last summer to Riyadh, which he previously labeled a “pariah,” to plead for oil production increases to make up for the cuts he forced at home. Last week the Saudis, Russia, and other OPEC members slashed oil production by two million barrels, about 20 percent of daily production.

This will seriously jack gas prices (and inflation) less than a month before U.S. elections that could cripple Biden’s political agenda.

That’s called Pariah Payback.

Biden did sanction Russia and Russians over Ukraine, but only after the Feb. 24 invasion, which was late, as Biden usually is. Of course, none of them did anything to thwart Russian aggression. In fact, Biden’s sanctions actually boosted Putin’s oil revenues exponentially while broadening his global markets.

So, Biden has added numerous subsequent sets of sanctions, always described as the toughest yet, though none have worked. We must be down to sanctioning Putin’s driver and maid by now.

Last week, Biden announced lifting some Trump sanctions on Venezuela’s dictatorship, not because Maduro has tempered his harsh rule. But because Biden hopes that country will allow more oil exports to the U.S. after he canceled so many domestic drilling leases and pipeline access to Canadian oil.

How does that make any sense, buying from dictators with no environmental conscience over producing it yourself with regulations? Makes sense only if you’re doing it for a set ideological reason regardless.

In hopes of moderating record domestic gas prices in time for next month’s elections, Biden also has been tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for a million barrels a day, about 44 million gallons of petroleum product every 24 hours.

The SPR was intended for genuine energy emergencies, not political expediency. His ploy has drained oil reserves to their lowest level in decades. And much of that oil is going into overseas markets, not domestic gas tanks. And prices are going up again anyway.

Russian military doctrine explicitly permits nuclear weapons’ use if its territorial integrity is threatened. Will Putin consider annexed areas of Ukraine now Russian territory and threatened by Ukrainian counterattacks enabling nuclear use?

The irony in all this is that after the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine possessed about one-third of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, some 1,700 warheads. In 1994, the Budapest Protocol provided a guarantee of Ukraine’s territorial integrity by the West and Moscow in return for Ukraine destroying that arsenal.

Eight years later, Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons program in return for a similar territorial guarantee. In 2011, European powers, with the help of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Obama, launched a military campaign to oust Gaddafi anyway.

For trusting the West, he perished.

With his February invasion, Putin has attempted the same betrayal of Ukraine.

No doubt, Iran and North Korea, and future nuclear powers like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, have taken notes on this diplomatic duplicity as they continue development of weapons of mass destruction and the intercontinental means to deliver them.

God help us.


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