Nuclear posturing is a dangerous escalation

Nuclear posturing, and probably the threat of nuclear attacks or war, have escalated over the last year. In part this has been precipitated by North Korea’s intent on demonstrating a nuclear capability, real or not. The reaction of the large nuclear powers, the US via Donald Trump and Russia via Vladimir Putin, is of increasing concern.

There is a real risk that ego driven, macho, power protecting leaders from any of several countries may push one to a nuclear attack, and that may start a dangerous nuclear exchange, and potentially a chain reaction that could be devastating to the state of our world.

Financial Times: Vladimir Putin’s nuclear posturing is a dangerous escalation

There was a large element of posturing in the presentation that accompanied Vladimir Putin’s state of the union address last week, showing a mock-up missile seemingly heading for the coast of Florida. It is hard to know whether the weapons he boasts Russia has developed — including an “invincible” hypersonic missile, an underwater drone and a nuclear-powered cruise missile — really exist, or work as well as claimed.

Even if they do, they would hardly change the balance of power. Yet this is still a dangerous escalation in both rhetoric and military strategy.

The Russian president was addressing a domestic audience in the run-up to an election intended to demonstrate the enduring appeal of his strongman rule. But he was also putting the west on notice, that Russia is back as a global power and determined to keep pace with the US in any efforts to expand and modernise nuclear capabilities.

The return of the nuclear arms race.

https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat

Seen from Moscow, this is a reasonable response to western provocation. Mr Putin has never forgiven Nato’s encroachments on Russia’s sphere of influence. He is still bitter at George W Bush’s decision to pull the US out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, allowing it to press ahead with a land-based missile defence system that Russia views as a direct, deliberate threat.

Now the US administration has said explicitly that great power competition, rather than antiterrorism, will be the focus of national security. Donald Trump has pledged to spend freely on upgrading the US nuclear arsenal.

Last month, a review of nuclear “posture” set out US plans to equip itself with new “low-yield” nuclear weapons and for the first time consider nuclear strikes in response to non-nuclear threats — such as a devastating cyber attack. Russia has long possessed smaller nuclear weapons, with a military doctrine that conceives of their tactical use to counter conventional threats.

But this is a radical departure in US policy that could significantly lower the threshold for nuclear war.

Especially when an irrational reactive President is in charge.

This is all the more dangerous given the dismal state of US-Russian relations; Russia’s increasing international reach, in Ukraine, Syria and recent western elections; the growing number of third country nuclear forces; and the increasing risks of accidents or miscalculations given more frequent encounters between US and Russian forces.

It is worrying, then, that both Washington and Moscow show so little interest in maintaining and strengthening the arms control agreements that have helped to regulate relations between the world’s two main nuclear actors for the best part of 50 years.

It is also worrying that the leaders of both countries are into provocative posturing.

Putin and Trump have the power, both as leaders and as potential button pushers of huge nuclear arsenals, to destroy the world.

And the risks aren’t confined to them, a chain reaction could easily be started by Kim Yong Un, or the leader of another nuclear armed country. Nuclear retaliation could also be provoked by a non-nuclear country, or non-geographical entity.

Being the most remote country in the world from all of this risk is small comfort when all it may mean is we can survive a little longer than everyone else.

Image result for cartoon nuclear

That’s an optimistic outcome given the threats to other species without going nuclear.

8 Comments

  1. Zedd

     /  March 6, 2018

    Interesting NZ is not even drawn on that map.. GONE ??
    There has been nuclear ‘sabre rattling’ since the 1950s, but there are several more ‘nuke-armed states’ now. The other things is; when USSR broke up, not all the nukes were in Russia & there were/still are ‘rumors’ that some are still unaccounted for ?
    OH DEAR !! 😦

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 6, 2018

      Charrming. We’re not even behind the logo.

      • Zedd

         /  March 6, 2018

        looks like Tasmania is missing too !

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 6, 2018

          I hadn’t noticed that 🙂

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  March 6, 2018

            I can’t see Ireland, unless that little blob is it. 😦

    • PartisanZ

       /  March 6, 2018

      An idea last launched by America’s previous most simulated President, Ronald Reagan …

      Nowadays considered to be a strong sign of his probable insanity.

      I guess it must suit some fortress ego’s idea of “Fortress Earth” … ?

      Whatever, building stuff to fire off into space is a proven way to revitalize the US economy … preferably accompanied by a war with all its necessary ordinance … preferably a war against slant-eyed Oriental folks …

  1. Nuclear posturing is a dangerous escalation — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition