Saturday, March 12, 2022

Musings on Defending Democracy from the Tyranny of a Nuclear Autocracy

           By Rudy Barnes, Jr., March 12, 2022 

President Biden needs to change America’s announced strategy on Ukraine.  Rather than assuring Putin that U.S. forces will stay out of the fight, Biden should assert an option to intervene if Putin does not end his aggression by a given date.  And as an alternative to direct military intervention, Biden should pledge support to a Ukrainian resistance movement. 

Hundreds of civilians have been killed and millions have fled Ukraine as a result of Putin’s unprovoked aggression. His war crimes and crimes against humanity are worse than those of HItler’s Nazis since Putin has threatened nuclear retaliation against any nation that opposes him.  If Putin is successful, China will likely follow his example and forcefully annex Taiwan.   

The world cannot be held hostage by the tyranny of a nuclear autocracy.  Standing up to Putin is a high-stakes gamble, but the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis provides a useful precedent.  A strategy of mutually assured destruction (MAD) no longer protects us, and Biden’s current strategy of non-intervention is weak and provides little incentive for Putin to end his aggression.  

Putin’s nuclear-spiked aggression to expand Russia’s borders by destroying Ukraine’s democracy is an existential threat to the independence of all democracies.  It’s similar to Hitler’s lebensraum policy in WWII; but Putin’s threat of nuclear deterrence against any nation seeking to defend Ukraine makes Putin an even greater threat to democracies than was Hitler.

This is not a partisan issue.  It transcends politics with the laws of war and the altruistic moral imperative of the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors, even those of other nations, as we love ourselves.  It’s at the heart of the Just War tradition, and it requires defending the Ukrainian resistance movement against the tyranny of Putin’s nuclear autocracy.

Against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis, America’s 2022 elections should be a referendum on defending democracy here and overseas.  Trump and his Republican cronies have praised Putin’s tyranny and should be defeated at the polls.  Opposing the tyranny of Putin’s nuclear autocracy is one of the few clear and unambiguous bipartisan issues in politics.

Russia is a nominal democracy, so that overwhelming Russian opposition to Putin’s aggression is the best hope for peace.  If Russians can‘t hold  their megalomaniac president accountable for his aggression in Ukraine, we can expect other nuclear autocracies to follow suit with aggression and a nuclear threat to expand their borders.

Wars are a terrible thing, and a nuclear war is the worst kind of war.  The only real restraint on the use of nuclear weapons is public opposition in the nations that have them.  In the future more unpredictable nations, like Iran, will likely have a nuclear capability. Without more effective controls over nuclear weapons, the world may not have a  future.         



Robert M. Gates, a former CIA director and Secretary of Defense from 2006-2011, has opined that  We need a more realistic strategy: “Putin’s war reminds us that the world is a dangerous, deadly place. And that we are in a global contest with two ruthless, authoritarian powers that are determined to achieve their aspirations through any means. Our executive and legislative branches must understand the new world we live in, set aside business as usual and embrace dramatic change to ensure that we and our democratic allies prevail in that contest.”  See

Clint Watts has opined that The West doesn’t want to push Putin toward using nuclear weapons. It might not matter.  Deterrence won’t be enough for a Russian leader who has never lost a war. See

U.S. and allies quietly prepare for a Ukrainian government-in-exile and a long insurgency.  See

On the German concept of Lebensraum used by Hitler to justify his WWII invasions, See

As Russia escalates its aggression on Ukraine, evidence of war crimes mounts.  See

“After coming under fiece criticism for praising Putin as ‘savy’ and ‘brilliant’ for the Russian’s  moves in Ukraine last month, last week Donald Trump told a crowd of GOP donors in New Orleans ‘that the U.S. should label its  F-22 planes with the Chinese flag and bomb the s--t out of Russia, And then we say that China did it, we didn’t do it, and then they start fighting with each other and wesit back and watch.’  His comments were met with laughter.”  See

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked Antiwar protests in Russia. They could be his undoing.  See


The Russians are  seeing--or not seeing--the war in Ukraine through Russian censorship of any news that is critical of Putin’s aggression. “The vast majority of Russians consume their news through official media, especially television, which is downplaying the conflict’s violence and casualties. A great segment of the Russian people have become willful participants in their own indoctrination, choosing to inform themselves through state media despite access in recent years to independent and critical journalism.  Antiwar protests have erupted in major Russian cities. But they have not reached critical mass. That may change if Russian casualties run high, and as sanctions further upend the economy. But if playbooks in places like Venezuela — which also suffered harsh U.S. sanctions — are any guide, the answer will be more official repression and a more impoverished populace that, after a fleeting period of civil disobedience, stays mostly in check.  Russia stands as a testament to how authoritarians can stage-manage a narrative.”  See

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