by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be doing all he can to start a nuclear showdown with the NATO alliance over his genocidal war in Ukraine. But if he gets his wish, he could inadvertently set off a chain reaction of events we will be unable to control, an atomic Pandora’s box no one can close once it is unleashed.
His latest actions not only should create doubt that he is indeed rational — he might even be suicidal.
In striking a staging ground for foreign arms shipments a mere 15 miles from the Polish-Ukraine border, Putin is signaling that weapons like Javelin and NLAW anti-tank busters, Stinger missiles and other arms are creating chaos for the Russian army. And he wants that chaos to stop or he will create havoc himself, even if it means possible Armageddon.
But perhaps that’s what he wants us to believe? Countless world leaders have played crazy in times of crisis, with history showing it can indeed pay off. Richard Nixon played the madman with the Soviet Union during tough times in the Middle East, and Donald Trump threatened to destroy North Korea in a speech to the United Nations just a few years back, but neither dared match words with deeds. Putin seems intent on applying his own maximum-pressure strategy on the West, getting dangerously close to striking NATO territory — and starting World War III.
Or does Putin just think he can get away with it, that the West will simply back down? Sadly, his logic might not be as warped as we would believe.
We can’t exactly draw much confidence from President Joe Biden’s performance thus far. He can barely get through a press conference without stumbling through his talking points, often seeming dazed and confused, with many wondering if his cognitive abilities are in rapid decline.