In our day it is difficult for some, perhaps many, to recall that the West’s Cold War policy of nuclear deterrence—anchored in traditional just war moral principles of just cause, right intention, proportionality, and discrimination—helped avert war rather than increase the prospects of nuclear conflagration.
With Vladimir Putin’s planned two-day war to topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government now in its third month and Russian casualties piling into the tens of thousands, concerns abound that Putin might take increasingly drastic steps to alter the disastrous situation he faces on the battlefield. To prevent those grim prospects—or at least contain their effects—President Joe Biden should turn to the playbook his predecessors drafted.
The war in Ukraine is proving to be a tragic proving ground for trends that will almost certainly be replicated in other twenty-first-century warfare. Decentralized decision-making, the targeting of population centers, tactical speed in decision-making, the rise of artificial intelligence, vital intelligence sharing, and the strategic impact of moral and spiritual injury demonstrate the boundaries for future combat.
In this episode the editors discuss Rebeccah Heinrichs’ article about John Kirby’s emotional statement about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mark Tooley’s editorial about Poland and Ukraine as martyr nations, and Christian realist articles from 1947 debating whether the Chinese communists could exist and thrive in a democracy.
With crimes against humanity now on NATO’s doorstep, Westerners are focusing on human rights with concern and alarm not seen since the Cold War. As we do, we must admit that the West’s post-Cold War precepts and priorities downplayed human dignity and human suffering.
This week the editors discussed a Providence event where Yoram Hazony talked about his forthcoming new book “Conservatism: A Rediscovery,” how Christian realists disagreed over US foreign policy as the Cold War began, Mark Tooley’s article about democracy and decadence, and J. Daryl Charles’ article about deterring nuclear blackmail.