Columbia University Students Interview Me

Last summer three students from Columbia University interviewed me at my home on the Stanford campus as part of a project at Columbia’s K1 Center for Nuclear Studies. It just went live online and captures some of the key ideas that I’ve been trying to communicate in this blog. It runs a bit over 5 minutes, so they did a good job of editing it down. I hope you enjoy it. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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Avoiding a Repeat of the 1962 Cuban Crisis

I highly recommend Prof. Rajan Menon’s article in The National Interest, Avoiding a New ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ in Ukraine. I’ve attached a few key paragraphs below my signature line, and encourage you to read the full article. This fits well with the risk analysis approach I’ve been recommending for analyzing nuclear deterrence and reducing the danger that it might fail.  Continue reading

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Solving “a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma”

Most people have heard Winston Churchill’s description of Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” I also suspect that most took it as I did: Who can figure out that crazy nation?

So it was a real surprise when I read the entire quote: “[Russia] is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Now that makes sense! Continue reading

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Could the US Resolve the Ukrainian Crisis By Doing Less?

Back on February 8, 2014, twelve days before the Kiev massacre which led to President Yanukovych fleeing to Russia, Jack Matlock who served as Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to Moscow wrote very presciently, “Ukraine’s most serious problems are internal, not external. They must be solved by Ukrainians, not by outsiders. … I believe it has been a very big strategic mistake – by Russia, by the EU and most of all by the U.S. – to convert Ukrainian political and economic reform into an East-West struggle.” A recent poll  confirms Ambassador Matlock’s perspective. Continue reading

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Putin and the Siege of Leningrad

Two days ago, I had a post in honor of VE Day that had a few quotes from a Russian language article by Russian President Vladimir Putin. I did not yet have a complete translation, and promised to post again when I did. Well, it’s now available online. Here are some key excerpts that provide some insight into Putin’s world view: Continue reading

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How to Truly Celebrate Defeating Nazism

Yesterday, May 8, marked our 70th celebration of VE Day – Victory in Europe over Nazism – while today, May 9, is celebrated as Victory Day in Russia. The difference of one day is due to time in Moscow being eight hours later than in Washington, but the difference in perception goes much deeper. If more Americans tried to understand the Russian perspective, it would be an excellent first step toward “defusing the nuclear threat” (as this blog is called) because, out of such seemingly small disagreements, nuclear threats can grow. Read on to find out why. Continue reading

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