by Caitlin Johnstone, Caitlin Johnstone:
Critics of the US empire have spent months compiling mountains of evidence showing that the empire knowingly provoked the war in Ukraine. Supporters of the US empire have spent months posting dog memes and accusing strangers of being paid by Putin. It’s clear who’s in the right.
So does everyone else in the world get a vote on whether their lives should be risked in an offensive to control who governs Crimea? Or will the Biden administration just be making that call on behalf of all living creatures?
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It’s so crazy how the fate of everyone alive and everyone who could potentially be born in the future is riding on the way two governments choose to navigate a conflict in Ukraine, just because those two governments have most of the world’s nuclear weapons. It’s like two people in a bar getting into a brawl that kills everyone in their city. Nobody else in the world gets a vote on the decisions being made that could kill everyone alive and end humanity forever; just a few people within those two governments and their militaries.
The US empire is telling Moscow “I’m the craziest motherfucker around, I’ll keep ramping up the brinkmanship looking you right in the eye and daring you to use nukes,” while telling the rest of the world “I am the voice of sanity that you should all look to for leadership.”
One of the empire’s faces is the virtuous upholder of freedom and democracy, while the other face puts on an intimidating show of viciousness like a prisoner biting off someone’s cheek in the prison yard. At least one of those faces is necessarily lying.
Literally the only reason mainstream westerners are fine with the US empire’s nuclear brinkmanship with Russia is because most don’t understand it, and those who do understand it don’t think very hard about it. They avoid contemplating what nuclear war is and what it would mean.
Whenever I touch on this subject I get a bunch of replies like “Yeehaw! That’s right bitch, we’re standing up to Putin!” They’re not approaching the subject with anything like the gravity they would if they understood what’s happening and had seriously thought about what could be. They don’t understand how horrifyingly dangerous it is that the empire is considering backing a Crimea offensive, and they haven’t sincerely contemplated what it would be like for every living creature to die horribly and for no one else to ever be born again for all of time.
Whatever position you have on this whole conflict, you should be approaching the possibility of nuclear annihilation with the most profound solemnity imaginable, because it is without exaggeration the single worst thing that could possibly happen. Take it seriously, or be silent.
If a nuclear war between Russia and NATO erupts, the answer to the question “Was it worth it?” will be a decisive “No.” Not just for people like me, but for everyone, no matter how sympathetic they are to the western power structure and no matter how much they hate Russia. If their answer isn’t “no” immediately, it will be their answer in a matter of hours. If people don’t immediately understand the horror that’s been unleashed upon our world and how nothing could possibly have been worth it, they will understand it in short order.
The term Mutually Assured Destruction was first coined by Hudson Institute’s Donald Brennan in 1962, but he used it ironically, spelling out the acronym “MAD” in order to argue that it’s insane to hold weapons that can cause armageddon. These games of nuclear chicken are insane.
The argument for nukes is that the threat of their use wards off the large-scale conventional wars we saw in WWI and WWII, but that only works if the fear of their use deters conventional attacks. The US empire is getting more and more brazen with its proxy warfare against Russia.
It used to be undisputed conventional wisdom that hot warfare against Russia must be avoided at all costs because they’re a nuclear superpower. Now the idea of backing full-scale offensives to carve off pieces of the Russian Federation is gaining widespread mainstream traction. This disintegrates the uneasy stability that MAD is theoretically supposed to create, because MAD assumes the other side won’t be crazy enough to launch conventional offensives against a nuclear superpower due to fear of rapidly spiraling escalation into full-scale nuclear war.
If you’ve got two people pointing pistols at each other, an exchange of gunfire might be avoided for fear of retaliation. But if one of the gunmen breaks the standoff by walking toward the other holding a knife in his other hand, odds are the other guy pulls the trigger.