Is Nuclear War Inevitable?

By Alexander G. Markovsky, AM THINKER June 29, 2023

During Napoleon’s War of 1812, the Russian officers’ sabers were adorned an inscription, “Do not draw out without need. Do not put it back without glory!”

Whether Putin has drawn out his saber without the need may be debatable, but the geopolitical reality is that he will not put it back without glory, whatever the cost. Putin, who revived Russia, and rebuilt its economy from the ruins of the collapsed Soviet Union, cannot permit his odyssey to end in the country’s dissolution.

On the other side of this Ukrainian confrontation is President Biden, who cannot afford the humiliation of another defeat after the disastrous retreat from Afghanistan. He also needs a victory at any cost.

If history is any guide, weak Russia, with its huge territory and abundant natural resources, will become prey for invaders. In the West, Europeans, driven by compulsion, are eager to retaliate for defeats and loss of territories, some centuries-old, others more recent. Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Finland have never accepted borders of the post-Second World War period.

Nor is the West the only threat facing Russia. In the East, Japan dreams of the return of the Sakhalin and Kuril islands. And Russia’s “sworn friend,” China, envisages living space for 1.5 billion Chinese and the acquisition of vast natural resources in the Russian Far East.

The imperative of winning puts no limitation on the modus operandi of the war. After 16 months of hostilities, though the war escalates in scope and intensity, NATO and its European allies maintain martial enthusiasm. Driven by the urge for expansion, NATO sees little risk in continuing fighting. Indeed, this time NATO engineered a perfect arrangement. It contracted the Ukrainian army as a mercenary. NATO directs and finances the war, provides strategic and tactical planning, intelligence, and supplies weapons and materiel while the Ukrainians do the fighting. Hence unlike the previous NATO misadventures, thousands of American and other NATO warriors are not coming home in zinc coffins.

America skillfully exploited Ukrainian leaders’ frantic ambition to make Ukraine a member of NATO, ostensibly to protect Ukraine from Russia. The supplicant exhibited a complete lack of judgment, failing to realize that membership in NATO and protection from Russia were mutually exclusive objectives. Consequently Ukraine finds itself in a peculiar situation; membership in NATO is not forthcoming, the country is getting destroyed, and as long as the Ukrainians are dying, the American and European publics are not overly concerned about the war.

At ease with the arrangement, at the recent gathering at G7, the leaders of the so-called advanced democracies committed to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes. Indeed, prolonging the conflict appears to be a new NATO strategy.

In his famed book, The Art of War, Sun Tzu concluded that “no country benefited from a prolonged war.” This wisdom may not apply to the current conflict. In previous world wars, the winner out-produced the loser. During the Second World War, Americans were losing, on average, six Sherman tanks for every German Tiger tank lost. But at the same time, American industry was manufacturing six Sherman tanks faster than Germans could produce one Tiger. Americans were producing more bombers than Germans were shooting down, which was true for almost every other type of military equipment.

Given that the combined GDP of NATO’s countries exceeds the Russians’ by twenty-fold, Russia cannot win a war of attrition against Europe and the United States in the long run. The folly of this strategy, nevertheless, is that if the economic assumptions prove correct, it will render nuclear confrontation almost inevitable. The recent rhetoric seems to suggest that NATO military planners accept this possibility, believing that Europe is safe under the American nuclear umbrella. Any attack on Europe would invite American nuclear retaliation. Therefore, even if Russians resolve to use a nuclear weapon, they will deploy it on Ukraine.

There is a lot of wishful thinking in this scenario. First, geography prevents Russians from using nuclear weapons in Ukraine because it is too close to Russia and Belarus to evade radioactive peril.

Second, Western leaders may rely too much on the credibility of the so-called massive retaliation doctrine designed to prevent the invasion of Europe by conventional Soviet forces during the Cold War era. The current scenario is entirely different. The danger is not from the Russian conventional forces but the Russian first-strike nuclear capabilities. The modern weapon is so colossally destructive that given the high density of the European population, one nuclear strike could easily wipe out a hundred million people and turn the continent into a desert. The issue is whether America put itself at risk of monumental destruction on behalf of already devastated Europe. At the heart of the problem is the inherent uncertainty of the nuclear guarantee.

The issue was first raised in January 1967 during a meeting between Henry Kissinger and Konrad Adenauer. Adenauer, then the first Chancellor of the Republic of Germany and a highly regarded politician, asked Kissinger, “Do you think that I still believe you will protect us unconditionally?”

Those who are old enough but do not suffer historical amnesia must remember that in the past, America, despite the rhetoric, abandoned Hungary when the Red Army ravaged Budapest in 1956, abandoned Germany when the Soviets built the Berlin Wall in 1961, and abandoned Czechoslovakia when the Red Army invaded the country in 1968. In all those instances, America stood by helplessly, watching the carnage, all full of bluster and no action.

Although it may sound cynical, America acted in its national interests when it decided that those countries were not worth the risk of nuclear destruction. So, what has changed now? The countries are the same, but the risk is even greater. What makes the Europeans think that the outcome would be different?

This leads us to another relevant issue raised by Adenauer “Are any leaders still able to conduct a genuine long-range policy? Is true leadership still possible today?”

Although the question was raised about 60 years ago, it has acute relevance today. The current crop of Western leaders is not made of the same stuff as Konrad Adenauer, Charles de Gaulle, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, or Donald Trump. They are not visionary; they are not even managerial types. Some of them are simply illiterate when it comes to history and geography. They cannot extrapolate from lessons of the past. Their obsession swept aside the previous safeguards, allowing for a constantly elevating level of conflict without regard for respective national interests and survival. They pushed Europe into the war that was neither necessary nor wise.

No one knows the limits of Russian endurance, but when Moscow starts losing the war, it will be forced to employ nuclear weapons. On the other hand, if Ukraine starts losing the war, some hardheads in Washington are already considering providing Ukraine with nukes as a deterrent. Either way, incompetent leaders are pushing the world toward unparalleled catastrophe.

Alexander G. Markovsky is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, a conservative think tank that examines national security, energy, risk analysis, and other public policy issues. He is the author of Anatomy of a Bolshevik and Liberal BolshevismAmerica Did Not Defeat Communism, She Adopted It. Mr. Markovsky is the owner and CEO of Litwin Management Services, LLC. He can be reached at

July 4, 2023 | 16 Comments »

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16 Comments / 16 Comments

  1. I will be offline for a couple of days, so I’ll leave a couple of links describing the ongoing Ukrainian advance against the Russian invaders:

    While I still have a few minutes, some points about a possible peace agreement.

    1. only possible if Trump is elected in 2024. This is not a given.

    2. Trump can insist on a ceasefire-in-place. This is easy to attain, because both sides already are in place.

    3. Ukraine will justly insist on security guarantees — this time, unlike the Minsk charade, guarantees with TEETH: in other words, immediate, full NATO membership.

  2. One other factor I forgot to mention as to why the West might use nukes is desperation. They are losing in Ukraine, and if they lose, they will lose big. A Russians victory would bring their multi billion dollar grift to an end, and with it, their dreams of global domination. The West will use any tool (or weapon) necessary to preserve the dream.

  3. About the nukes and use of them by Russia:

    I think that the only way Russia might use nuclear weapons is in its own version of “The Samson Option” if and when it finds its back completely to the wall, and it is not going to be Ukraine that it is going to nuke.

  4. @Raphael

    They show such vitriol toward Russia, for the only apparent reason that they think Russia is still the Soviet Union. Nothing could be further from the truth. In their minds, they are still fighting the cold war and this time they’re going to finish the off the Ruskies, once and for all.

    The so-called “West” has hated Russia for several hundred years now regardless of what the country was called, who ruled it (Catherine the Great was a former German princess and the last tsar’s (at least) family members were the closest relatives of the British crown), and what it did or didn’t do.

    Russia’s territory covers almost the whole of Asia and a part of Europe and everyone wants the territory and the resources, that’s all anyone needs to know about it.

    It wasn’t a Russian who came up with the Heartland theory, it was an Englishman (same as with the “survival of the fittest” idea).

    The West now follows both ideas under the guise of defending and spreading freedom and democracy.

    The people you blame for the American policy are merely government employees who get paid to do what their jobs require of them.

  5. @peloni

    I don’t believe peace between the West and the Germans would have been remotely possible with or without the Russian collapse.

    Germany is part of the West and always has been, and from the way things look now, Germany was fighting WWII not against the West but on its behalf.

    You ignore the fact that at the end of the war when it was becoming clear that the war was lost by Germany, the Germans were trying to make contact with the US and Great Britain, allegedly its enemies, also, both before and after the war the three countries were clearly sharing the same racial and political ideology.

    Your description of the West using the Holocaust to weaken the German military is stunning in its cynicism (although I agree that it could certainly have happened this way) and you should have realized that one of the consequences of the West prolonging the war on the Soviet territory to “weaken” the Germans and to slaughter more “Russians” would permit the Germans to also finish off the couple of million Jews who were left in the Soviet Union out of the reach of the German assault.

  6. From everything that I have seen and heard, (which, by the way, was not from the mainstream media), tells me that the use of nuclear weapons is not necessarily inevitable, but it is certainly possible.

    For his part, I do not think that Putin is anxious to use nuclear weapons. He has said in subtle, and not so subtle, ways that he can be pushed to use them, much in the same way that he was finally pushed to invade Ukraine. No one should be under any illusion that he wants to use nukes, or that he won’t. If he does use them, the decision will be rational, well thought out, and deliberate.

    So, what about the other side, the west? That’s a lot more complex.

    First of all, there too many people who are in positions of influence, relative to the use of nuclear weapons. I’m speaking of those within the US, the EU, NATO, and Ukraine. In bygone days the President of the United States would probably have had the final say. But, with the sock-puppet Biden in the White House, nobody knows for sure who is running the show, what their motivations are, what their level of intelligence is, or what standard of morality they subscribe to. The current state of American politics, particularly within the Democratic party, is therefore a danger to the entire world, but there does not seem to be ANY mechanism to stop them, at present.

    Secondly, the players that we do know, Victoria Nuland, Anthony Blinken, Lindsey Graham, and others, plus Joe Biden, himself, are single-minded in their belief that Russia must be brought down, no matter what….not that peace must be achieved, no matter what, but that Russia must be crushed no matter what. This is not rational thinking, and it is very frightening when such people hold the power to launch nuclear weapons.

    Third, those in the west with the power to launch nukes, appear to be incredibly ill-informed about the enemy that they think they are fighting. They show such vitriol toward Russia, for the only apparent reason that they think Russia is still the Soviet Union. Nothing could be further from the truth. In their minds, they are still fighting the cold war and this time they’re going to finish the off the Ruskies, once and for all. Never mind that the American and European Left are quite similar to the old Soviet Union, in their totalitarian methods.

    So, for these and probably a good many other reasons, the use of nuclear weapons, while not quite inevitable, is at least quite possible. Do you have your fallout shelter stocked up yet?

  7. @Michael
    I think Trump would have a great deal of leverage over both Zelensky and Putin to end the war quickly, though as you note, he would have near complete control over Zelensky, which is why the Ukrainian money, which is already doubtlessly being funneled into the US election, will be placed on anyone running against Trump in either party. As to Trump’s source of leverage over Putin, I would argue that it would be found not in his ability to ably wield NATO, which has pitifully small land forces with which to wield, but a sizeable air force and navy. Honestly, Trump wouldn’t want war, and Putin is no doubt aware of this fact. Instead, I would argue that Trump’s ability to leverage control over the Russians would be largely due to the fact that he could flood the gas market with cheap US oil, which would provide the economic threat which Biden’s sanction war failed to provide – a threat which would be impossible for Russia to counter. Trump’s tendency is always to deal with any issue on an economic basis, holding the armed forces in reserve where their greatest effect might be felt with the least expense to blood and treasure. Of course, Russia and Ukraine each have security needs which should be addressed and this could easily be resolved by establishing a Pan-European security arrangement which would benefit Russia, Ukraine and all of Europe. These are all very reasonable, while also very necessary, steps which could easily resolve the chaos and escalating threats now facing the world due to the Neocon mismanagement of this situation.

    Additionally, I would argue that the actual parties involved in this current conflict would be most grateful to Trump for offering them an off-ramp from this high stakes Neocon roller-coaster, though needless to say, many supporters of either side will likely disagree with me on this point to the degree it supports their side in this war. Indeed, I would argue that the war is only continuing to this day, not due to the interests of either Putin or Zelensky, but due to that of the Western Neocons alone. Putin has been looking for a way to avert war since 2014 and Zelensky demonstrated some interest in doing the same in the first year of his presidency (til the Nazi’s, the Nationalists, members of his parlaiment and armed forces threatened his life for doing so). Furthermore, both Putin and Zelensky demonstrated their willingness to end this war 18 months ago in Istanbul, which was only stymied by the actions of the West. Consequently, I don’t think there will be a great deal of leverage needed over either side to bring the war to an end.

    Also in WWII, as you note, there was no opportunity for any mediation even if someone of Trump’s caliber had been present to offer the role to do so. The Nazi’s had no true interest in peace and the Allies had no reason to be led to believe that any peace might be kept by them for any price. Unlike Putin, the Nazi’s had demonstrated quite clearly that there was no limit to their territorial desires.

    (In my previous post, I failed to mention that providing the Nazi’s with a peace would also allow them the opportunity to complete their development of additional wonder weapons such as the jet engine, among others, which would have provided them an impossible advantage over the allies.)

  8. Hi, Peloni

    In fact, it would have been wholly out of character for either the West to accept their defeat or for the Germans to have accepted a partial victory, so any peace obtained would have been recognized by both sides to be a temporary delay in hostilities alone.

    I think you are right; and the “Germany vs Allies” hypothetical “hudna” seems to closely match the “Russia vs. NATO” situation.

    I think Trump could force Putin’s hand; because under his leadership, NATO could crush the Russians. He also would have leverage over Zelenskyy because he could veto sending them arms they need. There was no counterpart to “Trump Victorious” in WWII.

  9. @Reader

    Would they keep fighting Germany or would they rather sign a peace treaty dividing “Eurasia” among themselves?

    I don’t believe peace between the West and the Germans would have been remotely possible with or without the Russian collapse. The Nazi’s civilization was based around constant war, and making and breaking agreements so as to continued achieving their war aims had been seen to served their interests well over the past decade. The Nazi’s knew this, and the West knew this as well. Hence, Germany could not be trusted to keep any peace agreement beyond such time as it suited them to complete their conquest of Europe. As a consequence of this reality being known to the West as well, it is likely that the West could also not be trusted to keep the peace beyond the point they saw an advantage to continue the war, and there was every reason for the West to realize that their best chance of winning the war would be served by not settling for any peace following the Russian collapse.

    Recall that the imagined collapse of the Russian front would not have been far from a zero sum game for Germany’s war effort. The hordes of the East would have been far too numerous and dispersed over a vast amount of geography for the Germans to have quickly settled the conquered Russian territory, and this would be particularly true should war with the West still be ongoing. Indeed, just as the West found it useful for the Germans to constrain their military assets with the murder of the Jews, the West would likewise have found it useful for the Germans to be further constrained with the occupation and liquidation of the Russians populations, to which the West could still provide military assistance to carry on a partisan war as was done in Yugoslavia, France, etc. This would have left the Germans with a vast territory filled with hostile Russians to occupy, settle and slaughter, which would have arguably required a greater force than had been fielded against the Russians at the front. Such an undertaking would have been a huge military liability for the Germans, and an asset for the West, which would make the pursuit of peace a reasonable, if temporary, solution for the Germans, but not the West. Additionally, for the West to attempt such a peace would have also betrayed all the underground networks which were currently working with them behind German lines.

    For these reasons alone, the West would never have pursued peace without earnestly desiring an end to the war. In fact, it would have been wholly out of character for either the West to accept their defeat or for the Germans to have accepted a partial victory, so any peace obtained would have been recognized by both sides to be a temporary delay in hostilities alone. Yet, to achieve this respite, it would allow the Germans to focus their efforts on settling and slaughtering the masses under their control without concerns of Western offensives. It would also require that the West recognize that when hostilities began anew, they would be without the vital underground networks which they had previously abandoned to there fate, something which the local populace would not easily forget. All of these factors would present a zero sum game of peace favoring the position of the Germans at the exclusive expense of the West.

    Recognizing all of this, it should be noted that the Western leaders of the war period were not foolish men, and yet for them to accept peace following the imagined Russian collapse would have required that they be very great fools indeed. Recall also that should the West become victorious in conquering the Nazi’s after they conquered the Soviets, it would have left the West in control of the Russian lands, further motivating the West to not accept any peace deal with the Nazi’s.

    Mind you, I left out the issue of the Japanese, which would have further complicated the German response to the collapse of the Soviet govt/army by requiring the Germans to act with haste in occupying the vast extent of the newly conquered Russian lands, but I think this simpler explanation makes my case, such as it is, clear enough.

  10. Markovsky makes several interesting points but I think he is missing the most important one which I haven’t seen stated anywhere yet.

    What was the ultimate aim of Germany in WWII?

    The aim was to obtain the living space (Lebensraum) considered necessary for the representatives of the higher race(s) (Uebermenschen) by significantly cutting down the numbers of the representatives of the lower races (Untermenschen or “subhumans” of whom the Poles, Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Russians were deemed the most suitable for the drastic “removal”), enslaving the rest of them, taking the “cleared off” territories, plus getting rid of the Jews entirely.

    My point is that the Western Europe and the US are refashioning, so to speak, the result of WWII by trying to achieve the above-stated aim by the hands and the efforts of the “Untermenschen” themselves while not sacrificing the lives and well-being of the “Uebermenschen”, while watching the proceedings on their big-screen TVs, and keeping the moral high ground and clean hands by claiming to help Ukraine fight for freedom, democracy, the territory which rightfully belongs to it, etc., and pouring just enough oil onto the fire to ensure the meat grinder in which hundreds of thousands of the Ukrainian (mostly young) men and tens of thousands of the Russian ones perish and their and, possibly, other Eastern European countries turning into ruins.

    The war would be over very quickly if the Ukrainians realized that they are not merely being used but are being killed off on purpose.

    For those who would remind me that the US and Britain fought against Nazi Germany in WWII – what would the US and Great Britain do if the USSR had lost the war?

    Would they keep fighting Germany or would they rather sign a peace treaty dividing “Eurasia” among themselves?

  11. Tanna,

    You have an interesting theology. It is not Biblical, but interesting. The “Middle Way”, or Majjhim?pa?ipad?, is a Buddhist teaching.

    Thank you for your comment.

  12. EvRe,

    I have already given my opinion of MacGreggor and Markovsky, so I don’t need to revisit that matter.

    Concerning the war in Ukraine, I have been against it since before it began, before Putin invaded his neighboring country. I fault Putin, as the one person who could have prevented it but chose not to; and I fault Biden as an accessory, for goading Putin into it.

    The war does not have to continue. Russia can end it, by simply giving up its hegemonal ambitions. Ukraine cannot end it: Even if they surrender completely to Russian bondage, their capitulation will only embolden a megalomaniacal Putin (who has also invaded Georgia and Moldova, and supports insurrections across Africa) to more conquests. President Trump is truly able to end the war in a day, if he comes to power.

  13. Michael, I’m having a difficult time understanding your bent these last few months. ever sense you came back from your road trip….. you seem to be tripping. Although, your argument’s seem to be against war and for peace that is not the reality of the world we are living in. The tension that is built into this world is put there by GOD and I believe is it to help us see the extremes and to choose the more moderate or middle path which is more in line with his will for his creation. Evil is as evil does but not every action is to be perceived as evil. Sometimes and action that might be perceived as evil is in reality not as evil as one might think.

    Please come up for air— breath and get some oxygen to clean out those dead blood cells.

    As to Zech 14. look at the context. YHVH is talking. Jerusalem is at the forefront, the nation’s come against the almighty and his people. (Israel) There is NO BOMB, it is a plague. The Almighty does not need a nuclear device. He did not use one in the first Exodus; I doubt he will need on in the second.

  14. Mr. Markovsky compares Russian GDP to the combined GDP of America and Europe and concludes that Russia would lose an extended war. Colonel MacGregor’s analysis contradicts this. He compares Russia’s ability to manufacture new weapons and the potentially large Russian man force to the US’s inability to manufacture new weapons, and the US’s declining military man power and the decline of willingness on the part of men to enter a woke military. Russia is steadily manufacturing new weapons while the US is depleting all of our supplies we might need to fight a defensive war. Putin is a very popular President in Russia while Biden is a very unpopular president in the US. Russia is defending its perceived homeland. The US is not defending our homeland. Russian sanctions not only did not turn the ruble to rubble, but the Russian economy is doing much better than the American economy. The war itself is very unpopular in Europe and is becoming increasingly unpopular in America, while the Russian people are grateful to their soldiers who are fighting to protect their people.

    Americans were told by “bought” politicians that we are fighting in Ukraine for democracy, yet the clown, Zelenskyy, announced there would be no Ukrainian elections until the war was over. Democracy?

    The war is being fought purely for the profit of the corporations who sell to the DoD, and in order to keep neocons employed in the deep state. The neocons and corporations are symbiotic parasites on the American population. They take from us, the American people, and create death and destruction.

    I do not think Russia wants to use nuclear weapons. The neocons in the US have pushed Russia every step of the way, and they will not be satisfied until they own Russia. Putin will not let that happen.

    American neocons, which gave us the defeat in Afghanistan are serving up defeat in Ukraine, but only after billions of dollars of taxpayer money has been turned to dust killing hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian souls. This is a war purely for the sake of war. It is the doings of the devil.

  15. Markovsky speaks like a blowhard, continuously spouting out his prejudiced opinions without regard for reality. Let me see, what shall we give Markovsky a forum to speak authoritively on? “I know! Let’s have him talk about ending life on planet earth!” Just some points:

    1. “Putin will not put his sword back without glory.”

    The reality is that Putin will NOT achieve glory. So he will not put his nuclear sword back, and millions will suffer a cruel death. Thank you, Markovsky, for your blatherings! Very helpful!

    2. “President Biden cannot afford the humiliation of another defeat”

    The reality is that Biden can afford as many defeats as the Treasury is willing to fund at taxpayers’ expense, and the supplicant MSM is willing to whitewash; and he is likely to die of natural causes before suffering any consequences.

    Again, “Thank you, Markovsky, for nothing.”

    3. “If history is any guide, weak Russia, with its huge territory and abundant natural resources, will become prey for invaders.”

    If history is any guide, Russia has not been conquered since 1240 AD,

    It’s futile, to point out more of Markovsky’s nonesense. If the great muse pleases, I will look elsewhere to learn about nuclear war — like Zechariah 14:

    [12] And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
    [13] And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.
    [14] And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.
    [15] And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.
    [16] And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.