Understanding the Ukrainian Crisis

Much has been said in our media about Putin’s propaganda war, and an information war is certainly in progress over the Ukrainian crisis. But it is not one-sided. We, too, have blind spots, with the following two misconceptions being the source of many of our errors:

1. The war in Ukraine is all Putin’s fault.

2. The current Ukrainian government are the good guys, while the pro-Russian separatists (and their Russian puppet masters) are the bad guys.

When stated so starkly, the error in those assumptions almost jumps off the page. But they underly our approach to the crisis as can be seen from the opening lines of a New York Times editorial last July: “The Ukrainian conflict has gone on far too long, and it has become far too dangerous. There is one man who can stop it — President Vladimir Putin of Russia.”

If we will critically re-examine these and other assumptions that underly our national security strategy, we would greatly reduce the risk of an unintended nuclear confrontation.

Martin Hellman

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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, for almost 30 years, 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 with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." Its soon to open website explains: https://anewmap.com.
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