The Ukrainian Crisis: Time to Think Things Through!

Yesterday’s post noted that the number of Russians fearing nuclear war had more than doubled in the last two years, from 8% to 17%. Adding to the risk that the Ukrainian crisis could escalate to nuclear threats, the top story in today’s New York Times  is headlined “U.S. Considers Supplying Arms to Kiev Forces.” 

The article notes that, previously, we had refrained from supplying arms to Kiev out of fear that “might tempt President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to raise the stakes,” but now “the failure of economic sanctions” is causing many in the Obama administration to question that policy.

The article never explains why our original fears are trumped by the failure of economic sanctions, but that is typical of the sloppy thinking which has produced chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine. It’s high time we started thinking things through more carefully, especially since Putin’s “raising the stakes” in Ukraine could well involve nuclear threats. Let’s make sure that Putin’s warning that “Russia is the only country in the world realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash,” does not become a reality.

Martin Hellman

If you think 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!

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:
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One Response to The Ukrainian Crisis: Time to Think Things Through!

  1. Carroll Webber says:

    A many-branching fault tree leads to future malicious detonation of a nuclear weapon or weapons, each branch segment with a best-estimate expected annual probability. One segment could be the number N of appropriately educated nuclear engineers, adjoined to a segment S with the proportion P of them who will be bribed by a subnational organization (“terrorists”) to direct bomb construction or to obtain HEU etc.. Maybe PN is so small it shouldn’t clutter up the tree, maybe not. (If nuclear power should multiply in response to planetary carbon-fuel-caused planetary warming, the corresponding growth of N makes me wonder,)
    If your fault tree has considered this already, I apologize for causing you to take time to read this comment.

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