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Liars rule the world.. The way to confront them must change

A competition that brings nuclear war back to the fore

Renewed competition makes the promise of non-nuclear use a lie.
Tue 03/20/2023

The leaders of the competing major countries promise from time to time that they will not resort to the use of nuclear weapons in the various wars and conflicts they are fighting, but their promises remain questionable, as analysts assert that those who rule the world are liars, so the way to confront them must be changed.

Washington – The world is heading down a perilous path that many observers warn could end in a devastating nuclear war, driven by the recklessness of some wise men and their unlimited desire to control and expand their influence.

Western arms control experts wonder whether the old taboo on the use of nuclear weapons still applies in an era of rising illiberalism, as evidenced by the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Logic was supposed to prevail during the Cold War and prevent the Soviet Union or the United States from acquiring nuclear weapons. However, many specialists and researchers today believe that the ambiguity surrounding the possible use of weapons of mass destruction in the future is the only certain thing, according to a report by the American Oil Price website, quoting the independent platform Eurasianet.

“Nuclear weapons are becoming central to international politics once again, with renewed great power competition,” said Cynthia Roberts, a professor at Hunter College in New York and a leading expert on international security. She added that the Russian aggression in Ukraine has brought “the scenario of a nuclear war back into the realm of possibilities.”

 

Steven van Evra: The Enlightenment is in danger because of the lack of verification of information
Steven van Evra: The Enlightenment is in danger because of the lack of verification of information

 

Roberts moderated a panel discussion organized by the Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, which dealt with the changing landscape of weapons of mass destruction.

The professor cited US President Joe Biden’s recent review of the nuclear stance, which warned that the United States was entering an “unprecedented era” during which it would face “two potential (nuclear) adversaries,” Russia and China. This differs from the Cold War, during which Washington confronted the Soviet Union.

The rise of China remains one of the factors that will change the calculus of the use of nuclear weapons. Some of the panellists also pointed out that a potential enabler of illiberal regimes is the technological innovations that have emerged during the twenty-first century, particularly the rise of social media and the rapid advances in artificial intelligence mechanisms. They determined that the regression of logic increases the risk of pressing the nuclear launch button or using other weapons of mass destruction.

“Liars rule the world,” said MIT political scientist Stephen Van Evra, who sits on the panel. He considered what he called the “Enlightenment” to be in danger because of the new media outlets and the fact that the information that controls how the public sees things is not verified.

Fears were raised that Russia would resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons and Moscow’s withdrawal in early 2023 from the New START treaty guaranteeing the reduction of nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia.

It is reported that Putin and his generals were calculating inaccurately with regard to their invasion of Ukraine as they expected things to be easier than they are on the ground. The military move highlighted the poor leadership of the Russian army and its weaknesses. The experts in the Saltzman Institute panel discussion did not rule out the idea of ​​Russia resorting to nuclear weapons, although they considered that the possibility is small during this stage.

Stanford University political science professor Scott Sagan believes that Putin is keeping his options open. “The history of leaders in crises indicates that they can make very reckless decisions when they are on the verge of losing,” he said. He added that “Soviet-era limitations on collective decision-making appear to be eroding in Russia today.”

Sagan noted, “Dictators surround themselves with obedient men who don’t tell them no. If you do not find a rational representative at the top, you need checks and balances at the bottom of the pyramid of power.”

“A variety of scenarios could lead to the use of a nuclear weapon in Ukraine,” said Charles Glaser, a professor at George Washington University. “We have to bear in mind that there may be rational uses of nuclear weapons. It would be serious, but extreme risk is not necessarily irrational.”

 

For many specialists, the only certainty is the ambiguity surrounding the possible future use of weapons of mass destruction
For many specialists, the only certainty is the ambiguity surrounding the possible future use of weapons of mass destruction

 

The analyst expects that Putin will tend to use tactical nuclear weapons as a bargaining chip to impose a peace settlement that will prevent a catastrophe that might threaten his grip on power if he feels that Russia will face a major setback such as the loss of Crimea.

Van Evra expressed his fear of a possible nuclear escalation in Ukraine, saying that “the balance of determination tilts against the United States.” He added, “This is the first time that the United States has entered itself into a conflict with another nuclear power that it believes is more concerned with the risks posed than Washington does. One of the rules of nuclear statecraft, in my view, is not to engage in direct confrontation over issues that the other side cares as much or more about than you. The balance of resolve will decide the end of this confrontation.”

The attendees discussed the following perplexing question: What should the United States do if Russia used a nuclear weapon? The expert consensus seems to be leaning toward massive traditional US retaliation because such a response would reduce the risks of escalation.

Nuclear weapons are becoming central to international politics again with renewed great power competition

Despite Russia’s many battlefield setbacks, Putin has not yet faced a catastrophic loss, Glaser noted, meaning he has not faced a situation in which he might be inclined to order a nuclear strike. “If Putin uses nuclear weapons, we don’t really know what will happen next. And its use, even if it is limited, may lead to a larger nuclear war.”

“Any strong US response to Russia’s possible use of a nuclear weapon in Ukraine would certainly involve risks, but not responding could be more dangerous,” said Etel Solingen, a political science professor at the University of California, Irvine.

“We do not have the option not to respond in the face of aggression,” she added. Doing nothing is sometimes tantamount to increasing the risk of disaster. This was a lesson we learned in 2014.”

Solingen was referring to the United States and European Union’s tepid response to Russia’s armed annexation of Crimea in 2014, and to the deployment of Kremlin-backed separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region who invaded the region shortly after occupying Crimea.

Solingen said that “Putin’s expectation that the Western inaction he witnessed in 2014 would repeat may be what encouraged him to launch an attack on Ukraine in 2022.

Source:  alarab-co-uk

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