Nearly 60 years ago, leading U.S. military and intelligence officials saw only one viable pathway to resolve the Cuban missile crisis: war with Russia and the use of “the bomb.” Mocked by Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant “Dr. Strangelove” and exposed by John Frankenheimer’s “Seven Days in May” (both released in 1964), the psychology of leading cold warriors in Washington was shaped entirely by the belief that a nuclear war with Russia was not only worth risking, but could somehow be won with minimal collateral damage to the “civilized democracies” on the good side of the Iron Curtain.
Luckily during that crisis, there was one man who disagreed devoutly with this assessment. President Kennedy surprised everyone by demonstrating that he would not bend to the pressures of the joint chiefs and instead chose the path of negotiation and concession rather than Armageddon.
Who would have thought that nearly 60 years later, the world would once again be brought back to the same precipice of nuclear annihilation? This time, however, there are thousands more nuclear warheads peppering the face of the earth and no Kennedy occupying the Oval Office.
While acting viceroy of the Nuland-steered coup in Ukraine during regime change-ridden Obama era, then-Vice President Joseph R. Biden not only personally benefited by the system of graft he oversaw alongside his disastrous son, but also turned a blind eye to the rise of unrepentant neo-Nazi forces in the post-Maidan Kyiv. These forces took the form of racist right-wing groups like Right Sector, Azov Battalion, Svoboda, and the Nationalist Socialist Party of Ukraine. Leading Nazi-affiliated deputy ministers occupying seats of immense power for the first time in decades now had the full U.S. patronage and some said it was only a matter of time before full EU and NATO integration would happen.
While President Trump derailed some of this momentum by canceling U.S. military contracts with Kyiv and cutting financial support and cooperation with the rules-based orderistas of NATO intent on absorbing Ukraine and Georgia, this resistance was short lived. The old script reactivated in January 2021 with Team Obama’s return to power. In recent weeks, leading U.S. officials have reasserted their support for Ukraine’s joining NATO. Meanwhile, President Biden’s passage of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership in September guaranteed a military pact worth billions of dollars to the U.S. military industrial complex.
This brings us to Russia‘s obvious concern expressed by President Vladimir Putin during the two-hour call with Mr. Biden on Dec. 7. Is it any wonder that Putin demanded a written and legally binding agreement that NATO would not encroach one more inch upon Russia‘s border and certainly not install any ballistic missiles in Ukraine? Sure, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was quick to dismiss these concerns by stating NATO is a defense pact alone with no intention of ever doing anything offensive. But when the clamor for nuclear war with Russia is made by leading representatives of the western alliance, can you blame Mr. Putin for not being awash in trust?
Among the loudest of these modern-day incarnations of Lyman Lemnitzer and Curtis LeMay, we have heard NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg threatening to move U.S. nukes from Germany to an eastern European state closer to Russia‘s border. We have heard German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer state, “We must make it very clear to Russia that we are ready to use such measures as well, so that it would have an early deterrent effect.” On Dec. 8, Sen. Roger Wicker joined this end-times cheerleading squad saying: “We don’t rule out first-use nuclear action, we don’t think it will happen, but there are certain things in negotiations, if you are going to be tough, that you don’t take off the table.”
Even Adm. Charles Richard, head of U.S. Strategic Command, said earlier this year that, “the U.S. military must shift its principal assumption from ‘nuclear employment is not possible’ to ‘nuclear employment is a very real possibility.’”
Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard offered a voice of sanity opposing these warmongers, telling Tucker Carlson: “Let’s go and launch a nuclear attack that would start a war that would destroy the American people, our country and the world and oh, also, the Ukrainians so that we can save Ukraine’s democracy? I mean, it literally is insane.”
Of course, Russia is more than a little concerned. Has “evil Russia” actually expressed plans to invade Ukraine as so many voices among the western press have emphasized in recent weeks? Considering that the source claiming 175,000 Russian troops have been assembled to attack Ukraine in early 2022 is an anonymous figure talking to The Washington Post, there is good reason to believe that this is claim is an illusion.
Russia is watching the growth of NATO, the forward basing of anti-ballistic weapons under its soft underbelly, NATO war games in the Black Sea and the systemic breaking of the Minsk accords by Kyiv, and they see where the wind is blowing.
Rather than burn more energy on a policy with a likely outcome would make Dr. Strangelove squirm, why shouldn’t the U.S. prioritize fixing its own problems? Trillions of dollars in infrastructure spending are needed to repair the rotting roads, rail, water, and electrical systems across this country. The speculative bubbles set to rip the nation to shreds can only be dealt with by a serious reorganization of the major too-big-to-fail institutions and Glass-Steagall bank separation. The crisis of drugs, unemployment, violence, and suicide can be solved only by returning to a future-oriented policy of building things rather than simply lighting them on fire for a bloated military industrial complex as we have since the Vietnam War.
Wars with other nations, especially those in possession of nuclear warheads must be recognized as part of an obsolete age. Instead of provoking a war with either Russia or China, American patriots must pick up the torch where it was dropped with the assassination of Kennedy nearly six decades ago. This means refocusing U.S. values on repairing the self-induced decay while reaching out to Russia as our partner and ally for the remaining decades of the 21st century and beyond.
• Matthew Ehret is the founder of the Rising Tide Foundation and author of “The Clash of the Two Americas.” He can be reached at matthewehret.substack.com.