Maybe it’s having spent my formative years in the tail end of the long cold war between the United States and the USSR, but tuning in to the news only to hear nuclear threats spewing from Moscow doesn’t seem particularly alarming. It feels a little like home – the way the world is supposed to be, or the way it was before the Soviet Union up and collapsed and we declared the end of history.
Soviet behavior on the nuclear front was happily predictable. The Russian bear would find itself backed into a corner and then rattle its nuclear saber. It’s the kind of thing that was just expected back there and back then as a standard part of their negotiating posture.
Oh, sure, this time could be different, but it feels a lot like Uncle Vlad is cut from very similar cloth as the old Soviet leaders that came before him. It’s always possible, of course, that he’s just enough of a wild card to let a whopper fly when none of his predecessors were. Desperate men aren’t often known for their smoothly rational behavior.
Even given the nominal risk of global thermonuclear war, I’m firmly of the position that there is absolutely no strategic upside to giving in to nuclear blackmail. It’s not like we haven’t been here before… and given the performance we’ve seen from Russian equipment over the last six months, it feels more than possible that their birds are even more of a danger to their own launch facilities than they are to the targets.
Chalk one up for Gen X’s trademark indifference, I guess, but I ain’t scared.