Establishment Voices Warn Joe Biden of Nuclear War Risk

(Photo: iStock, SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
iStock, SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Establishment authors and columnists warned President Joe Biden this week about the growing risk of nuclear conflict amid his push to roll back Russia’s brutal campaign for territorial control in the eastern part of Ukraine.

The D.C. push follows Biden making alarming comments last week claiming that the world is inching closer to “Armageddon.”

Nuclear-armed “Russia and Ukraine are barreling toward each other in a game of chicken,” alleged an October 12 article on the website of establishment magazine Foreign Policy.

The article by two left-wing advocates at the Carnegie Endowment continued:

Forcing a cornered nuclear-armed state led by a man [Russian Preident Vladimir Putin] who sees his misguided war as an existential struggle into a complete and humiliating retreat poses far greater risks than the benefits of trying to recapture every square mile of Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces.

To prevent an escalation that involves nuclear weapons, world leaders must step in to encourage Ukraine to propose a cease-fire now under terms that Russia might ultimately conclude, albeit very reluctantly, that it can accept. This means the United States and NATO must lead, ideally joined by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Wisdom requires pausing and working out a way for both countries to live another day,” said the authors.

“Putin can escalate the war,” said a Washington Post headline over an article by Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia who supports Biden. His October 13 article said:

President Biden’s recent comments on the specter of a nuclear Armageddon suggest that the U.S. intelligence community believes Putin’s threats are credible.

And yet, if Putin were to use a nuclear weapon (God forbid), that might also very likely deliver the final blow to his hold on power in Russia. No world leader would support him. The democratic world would be compelled to respond, both with more sophisticated weapons for Ukraine — fighter aircraft (MiG-29s), longer-range missile systems (ATACMS) and better air defense weapons (Patriots) as well as genuinely crippling sanctions, such as designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

After a nuclear attack, no Ukrainian leader would call for surrender. Instead, Zelensky would have every reason to bring the war to Russia, including attacks on targets in Moscow and other major cities.

“The nuclear threat may be graver now than in the Cuban missile crisis,” said the Washington Post‘s headline on an article by George Will, who is an establishment, Never-Trump columnist who launched his career during the Cold War.

“What happens next, or doesn’t, will depend on the sort of skill and luck seen 60 Octobers ago,” Will wrote in his October 12 column.

“The U.S. is now in conflict with Russia and China at the same time,” Thomas Friedman, another establishment voice, wrote in the New York Times on October 12:

The struggle with Russia is indirect, but obvious, escalating and violent. We are arming the Ukrainians with smart missiles and intelligence to force the Russians to withdraw from Ukraine … But how does this war end? No one can tell you.

Industrialist Elon Musk called for negotiations:

In the United Kingdom. some establishment voices are calling for caution.

European leaders are zig-zagging:

On October 7, Biden joked about Russia’s battlefield losses to U.S. weapons and threatened Russia with nuclear attacks if it starts using nuclear weapons against Ukrainian forces:

We’ve got a guy I know fairly well. He’s not joking when he talks about potential use tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming. I don’t think there is any such thing as [their] ability to easily use a nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon [for Russia and other countries].

Other people want to raise the pressure on Putin. For example, Alexander Vindman, a Ukrainian immigrant who served in the U.S. military and the White House, called for more escalation against Russia:

So far, Biden and top allies have not hinted at any kind of deal with Russia. For example, an October 11 statement by the G7 group of nations declared that Russia must even surrender the Crimea to Ukraine:
The G7 firmly condemn and unequivocally reject the illegal attempted annexation by Russia of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions in addition to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol. We solemnly reiterate that we will never recognise this illegal annexation or the sham referenda that Russia uses to justify it.

Crimea was run by a local government under the Tsars and under the Soviet Union. But it was transferred to the Ukraine regional government in 1954 and was treated as a Ukrainian district when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

The status of Crimea is a key issue in the war, partly because Russia regards it as a Russian province and as vital to the security of its coastline along the Black Sea. The peninsula saw three years of brutal battles during Russia’s war to survive Naziism. In the 1850s, Russia defeated a naval invasion of Crimea by Britain and France.

Yet the United States is backing Ukraine’s claim to own the Crimean peninsula, which was captured in 1783 by Catherine the Great from the Turks.

“Just to be clear, Crimea is Ukraine,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura K. Cooper said on October 4.

So far, the only prominent figure who has openly called for caution and peace talks is former President Donald Trump.

“We must demand immediate negotiation of a peaceful end to the war in Ukraine. or we will end up in World War Three,” Trump told a rally in Mesa, Arizona, on Sunday, October 9, adding:

We will never have had a war like this and that’s all because of stupid people that don’t have a clue. And it’s also because of the kind of weaponry that’s available today. We never had weapons like this, the destructive capability of weapons, modern weapons.

Trump also slammed Biden’s ability to contain the war between Biden-backed Ukraine and nuclear-armed Russia, headed by President Vladimir Putin:

We have a president who is cognitively impaired and in no condition to lead our country and is now casually talking about nuclear war with Russia, which would be World War Three and far more devastating than any of the previous wars because of the weaponry that no one even wants to think about or discuss.

Trump’s call for peace talks was matched on the same day by Admiral Mike Mullen, a former chief of staff at the Pentagon. “The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned,” he told ABC News.

In recent weeks, U.S. surveillance aircraft and U.S.-supplied guided weapons — such as satellite-guided, long-range “Excalibur” artillery shells and heat-seeking Stinger missiles — have wrecked Russia’s advantages in tanks, artillery, manpower, and electronic warfare.


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