Tag Archives: nuclear risk

Is the US Still Encouraging Islamic Militants to Attack Russia?

Back in the 1980s, the US armed and trained Islamic militants in their battle against the Soviets in Afghanistan, with President Reagan’s mistakenly seeing the mujahideen as “courageous Afghan freedom fighters,” instead of the violent, anti-Western extremists we now know them to be. I don’t know if our nation is still encouraging Islamic militants to attack Russia, but that certainly is the impression a Russian reader would get from a front page article in today’s New York Times that interviewed Chechens now fighting Russian separatists and “volunteers” in Ukraine. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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Understanding the Ukrainian Crisis

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

UPDATE MAY 2017: FOR MORE, SURPRISING INFORMATION LIKE THIS, DOWNLOAD A FREE PDF OF MY NEW BOOK AND SEE THE SECTION ON RUSSIA. Most people have heard Winston Churchill’s description of Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside … Continue reading

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Putin and the Siege of Leningrad

Two days ago, I had a post in honor of VE/Victory Day that had a few quotes from a Russian language article by Russian President Vladimir Putin. I noted that I did not yet have a complete translation, but would post it when I did. Well, it’s now available online. Here are some key excerpts: 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). It may be surprising, but out of such seemingly small disagreements, nuclear threats can grow. Read on to find out why. Continue reading

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Charlie Wilson’s War: An Attempt at Version 2.0

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article noting that former Senator Gordon Humphrey, who played a key role in arming the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, is now working on what can be described as an attempt at version 2.0 of Charlie Wilson’s War. Early on, the article gives the impression that was a great success, noting that, “The Soviet Union collapsed soon after.” Only much later (where far fewer people will see it) does it add, “outside experts often cite that covert action as a cautionary tale about the risks of intervention. In the chaos after the Soviet withdrawal, the Taliban rose and played host to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.” Continue reading

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Pentagon Wrongly Accuses Iran?

Today’s New York Times has an article which reinforces Iran’s image as a “rogue nation.” The article describes its seizure of a cargo ship, how “Iranian forces fired shots across the ship’s bow,” and ends with a former State Department official calling Iran’s actions “surprisingly incendiary.” However, KGS NightWatch, a highly respected private intelligence newsletter, has a very different take: Continue reading

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Saber Rattling Works, But Which Way?

We hear repeated assurances that appearing strong and belligerent will get our adversaries to back down and behave. A 1995 USSTRACOM report even argued that we should cultivate a national persona that is “irrational and vindictive” in order to induce fear in our opponents. But … Continue reading

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