Sarah Palin: Let’s Nuke Russia

COMMENTS BY FORMER Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin — that the USA should institute a nuclear strike on Russia in response to its aggression over Ukraine — are unhelpful in the extreme; even so, the remarks inadvertently highlight the stupidity of the USA’s strategic arms policy on Barack Obama’s watch, and underscore the dangers of blithely accepting promises over national security at face value.

There isn’t a great deal to recommend the incendiary and provocative remarks made by Sarah Palin to the Conservative Political Action Conference, suggesting that ”the only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke.”

Clearly, such a fraught and inherently dangerous international situation as that which  exists between the West and Russia over Ukraine — and yes, between heavily nuclear-armed powers, to boot — scarcely needs fuelling by somebody widely regarded as a high-profile lunatic possessed of explosively ill-informed views, and who takes any and every opportunity to publicly air them.

Even so, Palin has drawn attention to an issue that has been a deep and increasing source of unease for conservatives, both in the USA and abroad, for much of the duration of the Obama presidency: the apparent determination, based on so-called agreements obtained from Russia in “good” faith, for both sides to commit to and execute steep cuts to their respective arsenals of strategic and tactical nuclear warheads.

I have long been of the view — and have said as much in this column — that negotiating with Russia over nuclear arms is akin to negotiating with a shark over a chunk of bleeding meat; the shark might swim around in circles a few times, and view you with bemusement, but eventually it will seize the meat and wolf it down. And you with it, if you’re unlucky.

Agreements with Russia — with little or no credible verification that it ever follows through in its disarmament commitments — to slash its nuclear arsenal at the same time as it modernises that same arsenal and tests its efficacy is a game of smoke and mirrors at best, and a ruse that the USA has been silly enough to fall for at its menacing worst.

It should go without saying this, but the West — stripped of the deterrent nuclear umbrella maintained by the USA, the UK, and France — would be a ripe target for conquest, incapable of any meaningful retaliation as it would be, and however noble or well-intended his motives, Obama’s approach to nuclear disarmament agreements with Russia have been an act of international lunacy.

To this end, Palin is absolutely correct. Where I take issue is with the follow-through call to strike Russia first over its activities in Ukraine generally, and in the Crimea in particular.

The situation on Europe’s far eastern flank is dangerous, volatile, and largely unpredictable; little reassurance can be derived from either the words or actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose incandescent approach to attempts at diplomacy over the incident even extend as far as to deny that the tens of thousands of Russian troops pouring into Ukraine are even Russian. According to Putin, they stole uniforms, or bought them.

Such idiocy is no laughing matter. Especially when the powers of the West now appear to be lining up to draw a “red line” at any Russian attempt to formally annexe the Crimea — irrespective of the outcome of next weekend’s referendum, which the Ukrainian government has nonetheless declared unconstitutional, and vowed to disregard.

Nobody knows how events surrounding Ukraine might play out, and whilst the last thing I would want to see is the ignition of a conflict that could spiral into World War III and/or a nuclear conflict, it is simply impossible at this point to categorically and emphatically rule such an event out.

To this end, comments from Palin that effectively advocate a nuclear first strike on Russia are unhelpful, inflammatory, and in extremely poor taste.

It is not known to what extent Palin is viewed in Russia as having any credibility, or the degree to which her utterances are likely to be regarded as in any way representative of official thinking in Washington.

But even the suggestion of a first strike from someone who five years ago was a serious candidate for high office in the USA is not the message that country should be conveying to Putin, and should nuclear weapons — God forbid — be used at all in relation to the Ukrainian dispute, a pre-emptive strike in the absence of any proportionate provocation from Russia (and as of today, there has been no such provocation) would permanently jeopardise America’s position in the post-war world order.

If, of course, there is a world left after such an event for any order to exist.

Palin should pull her head in. If she won’t restrain herself voluntarily, Obama should lock her up under the national security laws he inherited from his predecessor.




11 thoughts on “Sarah Palin: Let’s Nuke Russia

  1. Oh! Bummer has been inflammatory enough. After all, I understand he threatened to “unfriend” Putin on Facebook! To totally and completely ‘wipe’ him, even on Twitter! Isn’t that enough? Sarah can see Russia from her place. I’m surprised she hasn’t started shooting with a thirty ought six.

    I am currently reading the book “American Betrayal” by Diane West. Once a person understands the extent to which Western Civilisation in general, and the USA in particular, has been undermined by Soviet agents since the term of FDR , and the massive planning and subterfuge that has gone into turning the culture inside out, it is pointless to consider thwarting the assault through physical military means. The assault has been psychological, and unless the West realises it has been had by the masters of scams and double agents, and soon, the war is already lost. The enemy is not in Moscow. The enemy is in Washington. (And Canberra, and Ottawa, and Wellington, and especially in London).

    • Joe McCarthy knew what he was doing. The depth of vilification he has suffered, with the recent effort from the libellous George Clooney movie, is a measure of how right he was about infiltration of US government and politics even during WWII. Trevor Loudon’s book is also revealing, though it is written with the literary acumen of a grocery stock-taker, itemising the extent to which American politics, especially the Democrats, is riddled and fractured by left-wing splinter parties.

  2. The Crimea has been administered since at least 1784 by Russia, when the Taurida Oblast was created by a decree of Catherine the Great on 2 February 1784 until by a decree of Paul I on 12 December 1796, the oblast was abolished and the territory, divided into 2 uyezds (Akmechetsky [Акмечетский] and Perekopsky [Перекопский]) within the Novorossiysk Governorate. Since the separation of the Soviet Republics in 1991, it has been under Ukraine, but with a large Russian population, so it’s not so clear cut that the Russians have no real claims. It was certainly regarded as Russian territory during the Crimean War.

    Of course, Palin is an idiot in the order of Pauline Hanson. The only reason the mainstream media give her such a big platform is to embarrass the Republicans. Given the ambiguous loyalties not only of Crimea, but the entire Ukraine, it would be absurd to rattle even the rustiest sabre in respect of this confrontation, especially as neither Russian nor Ukrainian armed forces appear eager for armed conflict.

    On the other hand, it would obviously be folly for the US, France and Britain to disarm themselves of nuclear weapons, especially given their proliferation in emerging economies and the instability of Russian military politics and diplomacy. Still, I think the US and NATO are far from helpless in conventional warfare. The US Navy is more powerful than the navies of the rest of the world put together; the US military is well-equipped and well-trained, and has far more experience in recent warfare than the Russian army. Further, Russia is almost as diplomatically isolated as North Korea, even if it does have token quisling allies in the old Warsaw Pact countries. There is also the question of logistics, which applies to both sides in any potential conflict, given that the most likely battlefields would be in the Ukraine.

    • Did you forget the part in which Kruschev gave the Crimea back to the Ukraine in 1954? In any event, it probably doesn’t matter in the overall scheme of things if the people who live there consider themselves Russian.
      Putin: Knock knock.
      Obama: Who’s there?
      Putin: Crimea
      Obama: Crimea who?
      Putin: Crimea river, sucker.

  3. Yale I think your analogy of detente using sharks is a bit messy and refer you to Ronald Reagan’s quote that detente is what the farmer has with the turkey until Thanksgiving. On the topic in general one would think Obama would have the good sense to fix his domestic problems first before risking another adventure that can no more be controlled than any of the others the world is still grappling with. Makes one wonder why he was awarded the Nobel prize

  4. You’ve fallen for an old trick Yale. As far as I can tell she never made the “follow up” call of a first strike. That was a “translation” put on her words by her political opponents.

    So the bit that you don’t have a problem with she actually said, the bit that you do have a problem with she didn’t say.

    All she did was to point out the truth that kept the world from nuclear war for decades. Realpolitiks.

  5. Palin knows there is no way in hell that the US would launch nukes, hence she can say these statements. As with any opposition politician, the tune changes once they are elected. Would Palin say the same thing if the GOP were in government?

    • Except that, as I pointed out, she didn’t say them.

      She just pointed out the reality of deterrence.

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