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.”  Continue reading

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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.  Continue reading

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Creating Chaos: Time to Learn From Our Mistakes

Yesterday’s New York Times had an article noting that the head of the UN Mission in Libya fears “the country is very close to total chaos.” Islamic fundamentalist insurgents took control of Tripoli last summer, forcing what remains of the government into exile in Tobruk, and things have only gotten worse since then. Back in 2011, when we started military action which eventually led to the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, I warned of Libyan Blowback, Libyan Delusions, and the largely overlooked nuclear proliferation incentives we created by attacking a regime Pres. Bush had welcomed back into the family of nations when it gave up its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Yet, with most American officials still maintaining that “Assad has to  go,” we seem not to have learned our lesson.

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Strategic Empathy: A Better Strategy in Ukraine and Marriage

blog post by University of Ottawa Prof. Paul Robinson makes an important point about the need for better strategic thinking concerning the Ukrainian crisis. Robinson advocates “strategic empathy” for producing successful outcomes – understanding your opponent’s thinking before acting. Acting without first understanding how your opponent sees things –  no matter how wrong he might be – is likely to exacerbate the conflict. As Robinson notes in his conclusion, “Moral certitude may be emotionally satisfying, but strategic empathy is far more likely to lead to peace.” I recommend that you read the entire post – it’s not very long – but here are two key paragraphs: Continue reading

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An Important Leap Forward in US National Security

US national security took an important, but little noted leap forward yesterday when President Obama announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba. Most of the media coverage focused on the economic and political consequences of this bold move, and what little I’ve seen on its national security implications quotes opponents as calling it “appeasement.” This is a clear reference to Britain’s vain attempts to mollify Hitler prior to World War II, and therefore an attempt to slam Obama’s move as naive and dangerous. So why do I maintain that his move did the opposite and, instead, dramatically improved our national security? Continue reading

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BBC’s Balanced Take on Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis

With all the propaganda on both sides of the Ukrainian civil war, it’s hard to find balanced pieces which try their best to get at the truth. I just came across a notable exception by the BBC’s David Stern, concerning the presence or absence of neo-Nazi elements within the current Ukrainian government. I’ve included key excerpts below my signature line, but recommend you read the entire piece. It’s concise and well worth the time. Continue reading

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Has Torture Killed More Americans Than it Saved?

The release yesterday of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the use of what the CIA has called “enhanced interrogation techniques” drew predictable partisan responses, with many Democrats condemning the use of torture and Republicans saying that extraordinary times necessitated extraordinary means to protect American lives. But lost in the noise is an important question: Did these enhanced interrogation techniques play a role in killing thousands of Americans? Here’s why I believe that happened:

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