Tactical nukes and Armageddon.
A message from the President of the United States.
The President of the United States, according to multiple outlets, told a Democratic fundraising event in New York last night that we are in a moment comparable to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. I’ll let big media deliver the direct quote:
The President’s grasp of history is poor: there have been several close-run nuclear incidents of varying severity since 1962, including the US-Soviet confrontation during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1983 Able Archer / Operation RYaN incident, and the 1995 Black Brant episode. The President was a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for most of these, and in the Senate for all of them, so there is no particular reason he would not know. The point in this is not to nitpick, but to illuminate. Having been here several times before, and successfully navigated the straits, what lessons can policymakers and leadership draw?
The relevant lessons are not necessarily obvious or applicable. Taken in aggregate (including a discrete episode within the Cuban Missile Crisis itself), the major historical mechanism saving the world from nuclear conflagration has been Russian officers and leadership, at a variety of levels, who refuse to set in motion a nuclear-weapons attack at the moment of decision. This speaks well of them but it is no basis for policy. (Future historians will have to unfold the paradox of an army that cuts throats with such abandon, and also possesses men of sacrificial restraint who happen to be present when needed by the world.) American policymaking requires something else.
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