The West and Russia: Threats and Counter-Threats

PX 96-33:12 03 June 1961 President Kennedy meets with Chairman Khrushchev at the U. S. Embassy residence, Vienna. U. S. Dept. of State photograph in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston.

By E. Hellenbroich

Two weeks ago John Kornblum, former US Ambassador in Germany (1997-2001), published a somewhat incoherent and confused commentary in Die Welt under the title Then an enlarged war would be our only alternative (Dann wäre ein umfassenderer Krieg unsere einzige Alternative 13.09.23). The former ambassador, while apparently being frustrated about the present results of the Ukraine counteroffensive on the military battlefield, called upon Germany and the US to do everything possible in order to “strengthen” Kiev by all means and thus “avoid a catastrophic scenario.” Equally important would be to “enable it (Ukraine) to carry the war to Russia.” (sic) What seems to infuriate Kornblum is that too little emphasis is given for the “western engagement” in Ukraine which is additionally fed by the growing populism among American and European voters. According to Kornblum present German and American efforts would remind him “the Vietnam war that began several decades ago and ended with the worst American Military defeat.” (sic)

Kornblum is above all worried that a future American government could refuse to further engage and even worse, could strive for a separate peace with Vladimir Putin. The West would need “clear words” and fewer statements “about what we can and can’t do.”  The recent NATO summit (11/12.July) in Vilnius presented the opportunity to “invent a history of victory”. (sic).  But instead the American and German negotiators on their own, as Kornblum put it, blocked the agreement on Ukraine’s entry into NATO and openly expressed their desire to start negotiations with Russia without preconditions.

Kornblum bitterly complains that NATO headquarters had signaled that the Ukraine could eventually renounce to territory and in return become member of NATO and that Jens Stoltenberg favored a “forced agreement” in which Russia would receive territorial parts and in which the demand for Ukrainian neutrality would be accepted.  According to Kornblum however “there can be no successful negotiations, unless the West prepares the diplomatic battlefield with a victorious military strategy that supports Ukraine’s efforts to repel Russian invaders as far as possible.”

He warns that “1982 Russia continued its stationing of nuclear weapons on Kuba, so that the US at one point had no chance but to risk the most dangerous nuclear confrontation since 1945. The same could happen today. Putin could extend his attacks in such a way, that the West sees itself forced to react with unforeseeable consequences. (…) The West can win back the narrative, by carrying the conflict militarily and rhetorically to Russia” (!), Kornblum emphasizes.  President Selensky has to receive the weapons which he needs, in order to defat Russia on the military battlefield. But equally important would be to let him also “carry the war to Russia!” Kornblum essentially calls for a more “offensive” behavior and “if we begin to behave like winners, we in the end could really have a land slide victory.”(!)

Sharp warnings of a third nuclear war by Russian strategic expert Prof. Sergej Karaganov

On September 26 Prof. Karaganov, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and influential Russian strategist, published a quite exhaustive 14 pages long article under the title “How to Prevent a Third World War.” (See the full version of the article on “Russia in Global Affairs” website.)

In his latest article Karaganov urges the need to revive the discussion of the role of nuclear deterrence in preventing a major thermonuclear war and a major war in general. “Without strengthening nuclear deterrence and restoring the fear of nuclear war, including a credible threat of limited use of nuclear weapons, a global war, given the trajectory of global developments is practically inevitable”, he states. He is very critical about the attitude of some US experts who are “downplaying the likelihood of Russia using nuclear weapons. They keep saying ‘No they won’t use them. Their doctrine doesn’t provide for the use of nuclear weapons except in response to an attack against the territory of the Russian federation or its allies or when the very existence of the state is under threat. And such a situation doesn’t seem to exist.’”

“The downplaying of the threat of nuclear war to justify reckless policies and impose defeat on Russia has reached absurd proportions,” Karaganov warns, making particular reference to a speech given by Foreign State Secretary A. Blinken June 30 th, who stated that a threat of nuclear war was no less dangerous than climate change: similar statements were also given by US President Joe Biden in Vietnam September 10th.

Therefore, according to the Professor, “the fear of nuclear weapons or of nuclear war in general must be restored without any further delay.” Given the state of mind of the western elites, he demands a rude awakening. “Nuclear parasitism and the declining sense of self- preservation can be clearly seen in what the Westerners are doing and saying without regard to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant”, which Kiev is bombing and Russia repelling, Karaganov writes.

What he particularly criticizes about the US government, is that “by downplaying the nuclear threat the American deep state is giving itself carte blanche to conduct an aggressive and plainly reckless foreign policy.” He emphasizes that the US political class is “eager to degrade or better disintegrate Russia in order to halt or even reverse China’s victorious march.”

It’s the fear of nuclear Armageddon which can dissuade and civilize the elites

The escalating Ukraine crisis is qualified as a “symptom of a more dangerous disease afflicting the global system” which has brought us closer to a “third and may be last civilizational war of humanity”. He speaks of a  “multilevel crisis plaguing the West” while at the same time a massive “realignment of global power” is occurring with the West being “engaged in a desperate final battle to preserve its dominance which allowed it to exploit the rest of humanity and suppress other civilizations.”  Karaganov emphasizes that in order to prevent newly emerging frictions and conflicts from escalating into military conflicts one should “reinstall the fear of nuclear war that saved the world during the Cold War.  It’s the fear of nuclear Armageddon which can dissuade and civilize the elites.”

Even Henry Kissinger in one of his latest books had sounded the alarm about the degradation of western elites. The conclusion which the professor draws: “I do not see any chance to awaken a sense of self- preservation in the West and the global elites other than through an escalation of the nuclear threat hopefully without having to take that to its conclusion in reality. (…) Objectively the systemic crisis that emerged in 2008 is pushing the world toward a big war.” Aside the manipulation and degradation of people, mistrust is spreading, dialogue has broken down and “the collapse of arms control system was weakened which in the past provided channels of communication between the leading military powers. “

While there is an unprecedented distribution of global power from the West to the global majority with Russia at its political and military core, according to Karaganov, “humanity is facing an existential challenge to prevent the inexorably approaching catastrophe of the third world war within the next ten years, by forcing the West, primarily the US to step back and adopt to the new reality. To achieve this we need to compel their deep state to refresh as much possible the ruling elites whose ideological drive irresponsibility doesn’t meet the challenges facing humanity today.”

(….) “I don’t see any other way to prevent a global war and before that an exhausting and costly military operation in Ukraine, except by strengthening reliance on nuclear containment- deterrence awakening. This may include not only the threat of retaliation against the territory of the US allies, but also if necessary against US bases.”(…) “To achieve this it is necessary first, to promptly lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons  in our doctrine which was blithely, if not irresponsibly raised and second to cautiously but decisively move up the ladder of escalation -deterrence, convincing both ourselves and the adversary of our readiness – if it does not work and the West does not retreat or revise its policy – to resort to the use of a few nuclear weapons against several countries in Europe that are most aggressively involved in supporting the Kiev Junta.(!) To reiterate, this is a terrible, moral choice and I pray to God that we do not have to make it. But the alternative is hopelessly worse.” He further argues that “this war can only be ended by imposing strategic retreat on the West. It should be as dignified as possible.”

If there is however escalation, then Washington must be warned that “nuclear strike will follow against US bases in Europe, resulting in the death of tens of thousands of armed servicemen.(…) If strikes- any strikes are carried out on our territory or the territory of the republic of Belarus, Americans and their allies should be aware of the fact, that of course limited retaliatory strikes will follow on the territory of the US and those countries that dare to attack.” He concludes by emphasizing that “we need to start pondering ways together to achieve a new stable balance of power and a free multicolored and multicultural international order of the future for every country and people.”

As rude  and horrendous Karaganov’s threats are, responsible leaders in Washington, Berlin, Paris and  Rome should reflect about Karaganov’s recent essay and try to “reopen” those channels of communications that under the regime of arms control talks had still functioned, in order to pave a way out of the present drive into a third world war.



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