A Dangerous Trend Line

For a number of years I have advocated a risk framework for reducing the danger of a Russian-American crisis escalating out of control to nuclear threats. One tool in that approach is to highlight early steps in accident chains which could lead to catastrophe and, instead of ignoring them, to treat them as early warning signs needing remedial action. Doing that is one goal of this blog, but a recent Gallup poll shows how miserably I (and others) are succeeding. Gallup’s accompanying news release starts out: Continue reading

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A Voice of Caution Not Heard in the West

My last three posts have been about the risk of the Ukrainian crisis escalating out of control, and the lack of coverage of that possibility in the West. Today, as I went through a slew of articles about Ukraine, a number echoed my concern, but none of them received coverage in our mainstream media. (I did web searches on The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.) One article, “Arming Ukraine will put the West in danger,” on the Reuters web site stood out for its clarity of thought and fairness. It says in part: Continue reading

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Gorbachev Fears Cold War Could Turn Hot

Mikhail Gorbachev, who let the Soviet union break up rather than shed blood, warned in an interview last week that we are already in a new Cold War and expressed fears that it could turn hot: Continue reading

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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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