• Putin’s Nuclear Paradigm

    October 28, 2022

    Posted in: Democracy

    Conventional strategic thinking suggest Putin would never use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. But what if he is following a new paradigm?

    First, let’s find the most important place on earth. Stick your finger on a world map, now move south, good, little to the right, too much, back a bit. There. Did you end up on Ukraine? Why not? It appears for the first time in almost eight decades the world is ready to go to nuclear war over some place, and that place is the Ukraine.

    The signs of escalation are clear. Someone decided to murder one of Putin’s closest advisors’ daughter, or maybe they were after the advisor himself, to send their message. Someone else (?) decided to blow up the Nordstrom 2 pipeline that might supply a frigid winter’s Europe with energy, a major act of war against NATO member Germany who will now be forced to stay within the U.S.-dictated boycott boundaries, and with any energy bought around the edges pay tribute to Poland for use of the pipeline which runs through its territory. It is not hard to figure out who likely perpetuated each act — cui bono, who benefits? provides the most likely answer in both instances.

    If it was Shakespeare the big event of Act III is begging for center stage, a nuclear detonation. We’ve seen the set-up, twice, as the world has been told the Russians might allow a Ukrainian nuclear plant to go critical and irradiate a swath of central Europe including NATO ally Poland. This act would be the functional equivalent, we’re told, of a bomb, but maybe allow Putin to wiggle out — just — of the consequences of violating the nuclear weapons taboo. Could that happen? What will happen next?

    The problem is in trying to see the future we are now using the wrong paradigm, the Cold War nuclear vision that kept a precarious peace for over 40 years. The Cold War paradigm was based on the MAD doctrine, mutually assured destruction, the idea that if one side released a nuclear weapon the other would match it, followed by an escalation that would need to be matched, until both Moscow and New York glowed in the dark. Whole dramatic (and no doubt real-world SIOP Defcon 1) scenarios like the movie Failsafe were based on such a tit-for-tat. It was the absolute belief by both parties that they would never be able to contain a conventional spat from going nuclear that calmed the Cuban Missile crisis (plus some deft diplomacy.) America’s other too-close-for-comfort nuclear considered scenarios saw something similar. MacArthur’s desire to use nukes against the Chinese in Korea stared down the barrel of the Soviet strategic rocket forces, and the idea of ending the Vietnam War somehow with nuclear weapons saw a similar no-go. Israel practices a version of MAD, making it clear if Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are destroyed by any means its nuclear arsenal will be unleashed against the perpetrators. No one gets out alive. Everyone loses big.

    It is the MAD paradigm which allows the U.S. to escalate the Ukrainian War by supplying more, and more sophisticated, weapons, as well as intelligence and logistics. The U.S. admits CIA elements are on the ground in Ukraine, and the number of Special Forces pretending to be “volunteers” is unknowable but just as real. Each step up the weaponry ladder (such as supplying first-line main battle tanks, perhaps via the Poles) raises the real risk of a Ukrainian offensive that crosses a Russian red line in the form of a real or stated border. Russia is likely to brush off the loss of its greater invasion as the cost of doing business (so what for Kiev, who would have thought the buggers would fight so hard for it) but is very much less likely to blithely give back areas in the Donbas and elsewhere taken long ago and considered by Moscow as its own.

    Ukrainian president Zelensky is no doubt aware of the Bay of Pigs, the incursion into Cuba by American-trained mercenaries in 1961. The scheme at the Pentagon was to set the mercenaries up, see them slaughtered on the beach, as the excuse to force a reluctant President Kennedy to commit significant U.S. airpower to save them. Once that line was crossed, the U.S. would have to had sent in more and more support doubling-down, until in the end a real live invasion was underway. Zelensky must know if he does the same, crossing into Russian or “Russian” territory he has a very good chance of bringing in the overt battlefield support from America he desperately wants, to, in his mind, assure a win by taking back land once-considered lost. What follows? U.S. airpower turns the tide, with Putin afraid to escalate to nukes as promised for fear of MAD. That’s the old way of thinking, Cold War-style.

    But MAD is not Putin’s Paradigm. The free way Putin and his advisors talk about using nukes suggests they may be playing a new, different game than that which played out during the Cold War. Putin is using the threat of nukes not to back the U.S. off completely but to hold back the U.S. from escalating conventionally. In that case the tit-for-tat is not ICBMs targeted on Moscow, but U.S. close air support scared back inside NATO Lines by a tactical nuclear detonation outside Mariupol. Putin feels safe from nuclear retaliation because he is banking on Joe Biden playing by Cold War rules (don’t use nukes in Ukraine for fear of total nuclear war a few steps downstream) while Putin is using nukes to keep the U.S. at conventional bay.

    We need a new way of thinking about nuclear weapons, one where an adversary threatens nuclear attack as a deterrent against conventional attack. Imagine this scenario: say around 2006 when the U.S. is starting to realize it was losing in Iraq the Russians began openly assisting al Qaeda on the ground, and threatened to provide air cover for al Qaeda forces. An American nuclear threat might have been enough to scare away the Russians. This idea was not unknown in the Cold War, and was known as the stability-instability paradox. The horror of nuclear war meant it was less likely one superpower would mess with the small-scale wars of the other. It was why as President Barack Obama did nothing when the Russians invaded Crimea.

    Not so for Ukraine, where Biden invoked that other old Cold War paradigm, the domino theory. If Biden responds to Putin’s Paradigm with more conventional forces, the classic response, he enhances the likelihood of nuclear exchange. With Putin discarding MAD and the peace it kept during the Cold War, we now have what one pundit calls the first predatory nuclear-weapon state shaking its nuclear stick to scare away a greater conventional response. In essence nuclear threats and/or the use of small nukes enables larger-scale conventional wars. How will Biden respond at fateful nightfall? Does he understand the paradigm? The non-nuclear future of central Europe depends on his wise actions.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Let US not give RazPutrid the benefit of doubt he is adhering to any sound military strategy. The moron thought the West would allow UKraine to be steamrolled in a month. Trump promised him. Even the morons at the Penta- gone believed it as the invasion began. The Russkies military geniuses have been revealed to be as incompetent as ours. He will follow the strategy of withdraw and DECLARE VICTORY. HE HELD THE LINE AGAINST NATO. NATO is happy. The US stock market rallies in approval. Yes it is a MAD WORLD.

      10/28/22 5:34 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      3rd, 4th, 5th -ad finitum parties might want to jar the world disorder with a nuke detonation- perhaps in Ukraine. The USA has many rogue operators and I assume so does Russia. Enter all the other “players” globally with scores to settle or ambition unleavened with a sense of responsibility. The gods seem to have set up earthlings for comic entertainment.

      10/31/22 9:24 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      Your Sum of All Fears scenario won’t happen. Both US and Russkie intelligence have been infiltrated. Both countries would know instantly if a dirty bomb or TAC nuke involving either was on the way. Neither country wants to wipe the chessboard. It would threaten the MIC gravy train.

      11/1/22 10:06 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer- I had to wiki the SUM OF ALL FEARS (I don’t read Clancy) I know about BLACK SUNDAY and found Bruce Dern’s motive believable. Iran is helping Russia pummel Ukraine. Israel may decide they have to prove they are a “player” and put some hurt on Iran but have deniability. What a mess.

      11/2/22 10:24 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      Wiki? Don’t you guys get Netflix in Putin Land?

      11/2/22 12:54 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      NETFLIX has suspended its service in Russia to protest the country’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

      Earlier this week, the streaming service had announced that it would pause all future projects and acquisitions from Russia, joining a growing list of companies that have cut ties with the country. Netflix had four Russian originals in the works, including a crime thriller series directed by Dasha Zhuk, which was shooting and has since been put on hold. Netflix also recently refused to carry 20 Russian free-to-air propaganda channels that it was required to host under Russian law.

      Now, the company is taking an additional step in shutting down its service entirely.

      “Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia,” a spokesperson for Netflix said.

      This will break Putin.

      11/2/22 12:57 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      The Sum of All Fears for RazPutrid is Russia’s young male (read: cannon fodder) population is approaching the point of no return.

      RazPutrid has dropped the nuclear-family bomb on his own people.

      11/6/22 11:07 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      If RazPutrid seriously considers going nuclear, his rich supporters will be poor forever. They will turn on him and RazPutrid may meet the same end as the other RasPutin. History repeats when we don’t learn from the past.

      11/7/22 11:39 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Zelensky has been a useful proxy up to now. Russia’s military flaws have been exposed. Was Putin April Glaspied? If so the stubborn Zelensky is no longer an asset but an impediment to our plans. Does he know that yet?

      11/7/22 3:40 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      The Pentagone MIC faces a dilemma. If RazPutrid does something really stupid going nuclear, he will be removed by his own rich friends or by US, eliminating the boogeyman the MIC needs to keep US in fear and the money flowing. China cant replace Raz as the boogeyman. Unlike the Covid virus, The parasite doesn’t kill its host.

      11/8/22 5:00 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer- that is my point. Putin has been gelded. He can continue to destroy what he cannot possess but that only makes him look weaker and vindictive not stronger. His vile actions in Ukraine which I feel the USA cleverly engendered only diminishes him in the eyes of the world even among his few supporters. The MICC is happy- Putin has been of immense use.

      11/8/22 8:39 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      If you have insight into the US plans, other than keep the money flowing to the MIC, we are all ears. Z man will continue to play his part in the US op against RazPutrid’s Plan Z. BLEED IT TILL IT BREAKS. IT COULD happen in a year or ten. Machts nchts. The MIC will continue to play its cards until RazPutrid’s credit runs out…or he falls out of a window. .

      11/8/22 11:01 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Zelensky and Putin might both be overthrown and killed. The manner of their deaths will be debated for decades. Messy stuff happens all the time. I’d put money that Zelensky falls first. Any takers?

      11/8/22 1:16 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      When RazPutrid gets the bill for the damages, his oilygarchs will be happy to throw him out.

      11/8/22 11:18 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      The same week Putin retreated from a defeated battlefield Drumpf has been decisively defeated in Pennsy and Michigan battlefields and abandoned by his Repug Party.

      Promising a RED WAVE, the Repugs are waving a white flag. Putin should take note. His useful idiot is no position to be of use. Expect Putin’sParty to abandon him.

      11/10/22 7:09 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer: I have no special insight into Putin’s Ukrainian SMO except that it seems tragically incomprehensible in 2022.

      11/10/22 7:10 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      Putin’s Paradigm wasn’t worth two cents.

      11/11/22 9:24 AM | Comment Link

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