The Tankies don’t have a monopoly on idiotic war takes

The Tankies don’t have a monopoly on idiotic war takes

July 26, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

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A brave defender, somewhere in Ukraine.

Oh boy. 

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Steve Pinker is a cognitive scientist at Harvard, which clearly means he’s smart. So why is this one of the dumbest tweets written? We’ll get into this click-bait dumpster fire article in a bit, but even before we do so, nuclear weapons are “militarily useless, ineffective deterrents”? 

Imagine tweeting that knowing that 1) Russia would’ve never invaded Ukraine had it kept its Soviet-era nukes, and 2) watching NATO and Joe Biden bend over backwards to avoid escalating the conflict to a point that might trigger a nuclear confrontation? Nothing says “I’m not actually paying attention to this thing I’m talking about” than that tweet, holy crap. 

Alright, taking a deep breath as I click on the bait, written by former Costa Rican president and Nobel laureate Oscar Arias and Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute. 

It is time for bolder efforts to make peace in Ukraine.

Ah well, some people have declared that it’s time y’all. Better put everything you were working aside and get to it, like delivering the weapons that will actually stop Russia’s armies and create the conditions for real peace negotiations. That wasn’t bold enough. 

War, like fire, can spread out of control, and as President Putin keeps reminding us, this particular conflagration has the potential to start a nuclear war.

Why does that potential exist, I wonder. Is it because Russia is using the threat of nuclear war as a deterrent to keep NATO from engaging more directly in the conflict? Couldn’t be, though. Nuclear weapons aren’t effective deterrents. 

At a recent joint news conference with the President of Belarus, Putin announced that Russia would transfer Iskander M missiles to Belarus. Those missiles can carry nuclear warheads, and the move is apparently intended to mirror nuclear sharing arrangements the United States has with five NATO allies — Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Turkey.

There is no way in hell Vladimir Putin ever gives nuclear weapons to Belarus. I know people are freaking out about it, but there is no way that ever happens. Why would Putin give Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko the one means to protect his country from future Russian aggression? Belarus wants a deterrent, Russia sure as hell won’t play ball.

Note that Iskanders aren’t inherently nuclear missiles. While they can carry nuclear warheads, their regular use is conventional. Indeed, Russia is lobbing hundreds of them at civilian targets, and sometimes at themselves. 

Moving on.

The world is as close to the nuclear abyss today as it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In fact, contemporary nuclear risks may actually be worse. Whereas Cuban Missile Crisis lasted just 13 days, the fighting in Ukraine will likely continue and tempt fate for many months to come.

We are objectively not as close to nuclear war as we were during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was literally a nuclear standoff. During the Cuban Missile Crisis we were at DEFCON 2: “Next step to nuclear war.”

Ukraine is a conventional war with a non-nuclear state, supported by outside nuclear states. There’s a reason those outside nuclear states aren’t engaging more directly or offering Ukraine longer-range rockets—because Russia has nuclear weapons. You know, those outside powers are being deterred

We are currently at DEFCON 3: “Increase in force readiness above that required for normal readiness.” The only other time we’ve been at DEFCON 2 was the first few days of the Gulf War, when Dick Cheney and Colin Powell convinced too many people that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. 

Negotiations are therefore essential to defuse nuclear tensions. Even though it has no direct role in the Ukraine war, it’s appropriate for NATO to have a role in encouraging negotiations to end it.

Since NATO is an enormously strong military force — stronger even than Putin’s Russia — and since President Putin has said that the war in Ukraine is in part a response to NATO’s actions, NATO calling for peace negotiations would be fitting and carry some weight.

Ah, now I’m seeing the problem. the authors believe Putin. Sadly, it’s an all-too-common mistake. They must also believe that there are Nazis in Ukraine, because Putin would never lie about that. And when Russia denied hitting Odesa’s grain facilities at their main port, just a day after signing an agreement allowing safe export of that grain, that was totally believable too. And the next day, when Russia suddenly reversed course and claimed they had simply hit military facilities, that was also the truth. 

Right?  

So are we really going to pretend this was about NATO’s actions? Which ones? Ukraine wasn’t on a path to membership, so what exactly were those actions that gave Putin little choice but to invade? When Sweden and Finland decided to join NATO, Russia must’ve been livid, right? Because if it was about NATO expansion, then Finland would really be a problem, huh?

Yet this is what Putin had to say about that: “We do not have such problems with Sweden and Finland … we have nothing that could bother us from the point of view of Finland’s or Sweden’s membership in NATO.” Weird, huh?

In truth, Putin has told us exactly why he invaded Ukraine. He wrote an entire 5,000-word essay about it. In those 5,000 meandering words, Putin mentions NATO once in a throwaway paragraph, spending the bulk of the words ranting against Ukraine’s westward orientation. But wait, Finland also looked west. So what makes Ukraine different than Finland? 

History. Or better put, Putin’s weird view of it. As one historian put it at the time, “It is a masterclass in disinformation – and one step short of a declaration of war.”

Putin spends lots of time complaining about how “modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era,” a fake country without historical foundation. He concludes that “Russia was robbed” by “Bolshevik leaders who were chopping the country [Russia] into pieces.” He further claims that the West cheered the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 because it kept Russia weak. In the end, he concludes that “I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.”

Imagine that, “true sovereignty,” the ability for Ukraine to govern itself, can only exist in Putin’s mind if Ukraine surrendered that sovereignty in service to Russia. Is it any wonder that all of Russia’s neighbors are arming themselves to the teeth? Even Belarus—why do you think Lukashenko is asking for nuclear weapons? (Deterrence!)

NATO was and is irrelevant to Russia’s colonial designs against Ukraine, a throwaway excuse (along with the Nazi nonsense) to justify his naked aggression to a wider public. The Tankies for sure love that fiction, as it feeds their anti-American worldview, but no honest observer should be giving it more than a passing thought. All anyone has to do is listen to Putin himself, the words that come out of his mouth.  

Putin’s war is one of colonialism and conquest. That’s why, comparing himself to the expansionist Peter the Great, Putin said, “Apparently, it is also our lot to return [what is Russia’s] and strengthen [the country].” He believes Ukraine belongs to Russia, and it is his “lot” to return it. He doesn’t care about NATO. NATO doesn’t threaten him. Ask Finland. 

Bringing both sides back into dialogue will require a dramatic gesture. Therefore, we propose NATO plan and prepare for withdrawal of all U.S. nuclear warheads from Europe and Turkey, preliminary to negotiations. Withdrawal would be carried out once peace terms are agreed between Ukraine and Russia. Such a proposal would get Putin’s attention and might bring him to the negotiating table.

NATO PLEASE UNILATERALLY DISARM AND PUTIN MIGHT NEGOTIATE. 

“Might.” 

Please don’t ever hire these these guys to negotiate on your behalf. If you’re lucky, they’ll be sitting opposite of you on the negotiating table. “Here, have everything. Can we talk?” they’ll say. 

Removing U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe and Turkey would not weaken NATO militarily, since nuclear weapons have little or no actual usefulness on the battlefield. If they are truly weapons of last resort, there is no need to deploy them so close to Russia’s border. Under this proposal, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States would retain their national nuclear arsenals, and if the worst happened, they could still use them on NATO’s behalf.

Those “tactical” nukes aren’t really meant for battlefield advantages, they’re meant as a tripwire toward more devastating “strategic” nukes, the kinds that destroy cities and deliver nuclear winters. The cost of their use is so high, that it deters others from taking actions that might escalate conflict. Removing them from Europe would absolutely weaken NATO, lowering the potential cost of Russian aggression against member states. 

To be clear, I’d welcome a treaty banning all tactical nuclear weapons, but deterrence only works if the aggressor state also follows suit. 

NATO’s nuclear arsenal failed to deter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has almost no utility as a weapon of war. But NATO’s nuclear weapons can still be put to good use, not by threatening to launch them and escalate the war, but by withdrawing them to make room for new negotiations and eventual peace.

Why would NATO’s nuclear arsenal deter Russia’s invasion of a non-nuclear, non-NATO Ukraine? Did you hear how NATO’s nuclear arsenal failed to deter Ethiopia’s brutal civil war? Why won’t NATO deter Israel and Syria shooting at each other? It’s so weird how NATO doesn’t protect non-NATO territory! 

There’s a reason Ukraine wanted into NATO so desperately, to get the same kind of protections Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland get. Don’t think Russia would be leaving them alone otherwise. That’s why those four are Ukraine’s fiercest allies. They know what it’s like to be part of Russia’s murderous ambitions. 

The authors aren‘t even saying “offer denuclearization as part of negotiations.” That’s what’s most mind-blowing. They literally think surrendering to Putin’s aggression—giving him something he hasn’t even asked for—would somehow “make room for new negotiations and eventual peace.” Meanwhile, this is the Russian side: 

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Here’s the bottom line—Putin doesn’t fear NATO or NATO tactical nuclear weapons because he knows full well the alliance is defensive. It poses no threat as long as Russia doesn’t prove it first. 

Would getting rid of NATO nukes stop Ukraine from receiving HIMARS, 155mm artillery shells, and Javelins? No? Then Putin doesn’t give two shits. 

He wants Ukraine subjugated, its lands within Russia’s borders. It’s his historical destiny, and his legacy depends on it. He is Putin the Great goddammit, but only if he has the conquests to earn it. 

Ironically, the Global Security Institute, the organization one of the authors (Jonathan Granoff) heads, had an unambiguously great statement following Russia’s invasion. 

The Russian invasion dishonors the Russian people, is an affront to the security of the entire world, is illegal, and should not be tolerated. It requires a united engagement from all peoples and nations that value world security, human security, and peace.

But apparently, that was then, this is now.

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HIMARS now going after fuel depots, this one in Donetsk city. 

Ammo depots reduced Russia’s ability to sustain its artillery barrages. Hitting command and control introduced chaos in Russia’s leadership, and degraded its ability to plan and execute new advances. Hitting air defenses allows drones and the Ukrainian air force to better support troops on the counter-offensive. 

And now fuel, which obviously grounds Russian equipment. Russian soldiers are free to leave their equipment behind and retreat on foot. 

But don’t worry, still plenty of ammunition dumps to blow. 

Russian Telegram is all over this sob story: 

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You can read the story here. Just be forewarned, Russians are victims, the world is against them, and even Turkish police are in on the conspiracy. Why oh why does everyone hate Russians so? 

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Tuesday, Jul 26, 2022 · 10:56:45 PM +00:00

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kos

Yeah, this is a HUGE deal. Without that bridge, Kherson can no longer be directly reinforced and supplied. Russia will have to move supplies through Nova Kakhovka, and Ukraine has already shown the ability to cut off that supply route by hitting a key bridge over the Inhulets. Once Ukraine cuts off both those routes, those Russian defenders are kinda f’d. Without artillery coverage, the advance in the region becomes an entirely different beast. 


Tuesday, Jul 26, 2022 · 10:59:52 PM +00:00

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kos

And here’s the other bridge. This completely cuts off Kherson. 

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