More Russians Fear Nuclear War

The risk analysis approach I have advocated for reducing the threat of nuclear war doesn’t wait for a catastrophe to occur before taking remedial action since, clearly, that would be too late. Instead, it sees catastrophes as the final step in a chain of mistakes, and tries to stop the accident chain at the earliest possible stage. The news coming out of Ukraine for over a year has given us many options for doing that, but few in this country seem aware of the nuclear dimension to the risk. Russians are more aware, with a recent poll showing 17% who fear a nuclear war, versus 8% two years ago. 

I suspect that much of the difference in American and Russian perspectives is due to our relative distances from the carnage. The Ukrainian civil war is being fought on Russia’s doorstep, and has flooded Russia with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

Unfortunately, those very different perspectives also create the possibility for one side to inadvertently threaten the perceived vital interests of the other. To a large extent, that’s how the Cuban Missile Crisis started.

Numerous examples of such misperception have been highlighted in this blog (search on Ukraine to find them), and a recent article in the Nixon Center’s journal The National Interest provides additional examples. These examples focus on the West’s mistakes not because Putin is blameless, but because our mistakes are the only ones which we have the power to correct.

Looking at the ways we could help stop the violence in Ukraine illustrates another advantage of risk analysis: It doesn’t just reduce the risk of catastrophe. It also helps build a more peaceful world.

If you agree that these ideas need wider consideration, please add a link on Facebook, tweet it on Twitter, and use other social media to help get the word out. Thank you!

Martin Hellman

About Martin Hellman

I am a professor at Stanford University, best known for my invention of public key cryptography -- the technology that protects the secure part of the Internet, such as electronic banking. But, since 1982, my primary interest has been how fallible human beings can survive possessing nuclear weapons, where even one mistake could be catastrophic. My latest project is a book, co-written with my wife Dorothie, with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." It's on Amazon and a free PDF can be downloaded from its website:
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to More Russians Fear Nuclear War

  1. nika says:

    this madness needs to stop. protesters need to organise a vehicle blockade for key routes into ukraine from russia and belarus enough to stall or choke off militaryor govt supply lines. much like how ottawa canada convoy protests froze a city for over a month

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s