Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The Ukraine War Shows Nukes Mean Safety from US-Led Regime Change

Posted by M. C. on April 14, 2022

More savvy regimes have always known that nuclear arms bring independence from Washington. It’s why the French pursued their own nuclear program not controlled by the US or by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. France wanted to make its own decisions. Both India and Pakistan did not want to take orders from the US in South Asia. And they both obtained their own nuclear arsenals.

Ryan McMaken

Some journalists like Steve Portnoy of CBS seem unable to grasp that escalations that might lead to nuclear war are a bad thing. The journalist seemed incredulous last week when asking White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki why the United States has not started a full-on war with Moscow. Psaki’s position—with which any reasonable person could agree—was that it is not in the interest of Americans “to be in a war with Russia.”

Washington’s reluctance to go to war might seem odd for anyone who has paid attention to American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. After all, for more than thirty years, Washington has been enthusiastic when presented with opportunities to start wars with many countries—including the civilians who live there. Iraq has been a target twice. Washington made war on Afghanistan for more than twenty years. The US launched repeated bombing campaigns against Serbia and was happy to help bomb Libya. The US regime pushed for full-scale war with Syria, and ultimately executed a small-scale invasion. US troops are in Syria to this day. Iran has long been a target, and starting a war with Iran has long been a given, with John McCain once singing, “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” But now even the White House admits war with Russia is not in the interests of “the American people.”

In the past, when the United States regime accused other regimes of war crimes and aggression, that meant regime change and war. It usually means widespread bombing campaigns against that “rogue” state’s cities, and it often even means military occupation. But now we see Washington accusing Moscow of very similar crimes, and yet no regime change is on the table.

Don’t think that foreign states haven’t noticed the abrupt change in enthusiasm over war when it comes to nuclear-armed Russia. The contrast between the US’s aversion to war with Russia and the US’s enthusiasm toward regime change in nonnuclear states, sends a clear message: states with nuclear arms won’t be targeted for regime change.

Why Regime Change Means Nuclear War

Yes, to some extent the opposition to war with Russia is due to Russia’s abilities in terms of conventional warfare. Moscow’s conventional defensive military capabilities far surpass anything that might have been used against US forces in countries like Iraq, Iran, and Syria. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Moscow’s military budget in 2020 was $66 billion. It was $12 billion in Iran during the same period. Both of these cases pale in comparison to the US’s gargantuan $700 billion–plus budget. But Russia’s conventional military can nonetheless inflict enough damage on US forces in a conventional war to the point of making such a war politically costly to prowar policymakers in the United States. But current military spending isn’t the whole story. Long-term war-making capability matters also. The total industrial capacity of the United States—thanks to remaining latent nineteenth-century laissez-faire liberalism—is vastly larger than anything the far more socialist state of Russia could possibly muster.

The reason the administration is minimizing even provocations of Russia, however, is Moscow’s nuclear arsenal. Like the United States, Moscow controls more than five thousand nuclear warheads, and more than enough are deliverable with ICBMs.

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