Beware the Chaos of This War by Ed Flaherty
One of the defining characteristics of war is chaos. The war between Ukraine and Russia is approaching the end of its first year, and it has been horrendous and chaotic. Each side says it wants to talk about peace, but only after it has achieved “victory”. I am quite sure, however, that neither the non-negotiable terms of Ukraine or of Russia will be met. However long the war lasts, it will end with negotiations.. Each side has access to huge resources, military and domestic, that could enable the continuation of the war for even years to come. The longer the war, the greater the chaos. Yes, the longer the war the greater the destruction of human lives and the greater opportunity costs from investing in war rather than reconstruction. That could be termed “conventional” suffering. But the chaos of this war presents a danger to the whole world, not just Ukraine and Russia. The chaos emanating from this war raises the possibility of humanity-ending nuclear war to heights unseen in the past sixty years.
The longer the war, the greater the chaos, and the greater the chaos the greater possibility of a nuclear war. Russia is bristling with nuclear weapons. Although Ukraine does not possess nuclear weapons, Europe is bristling with US, British, and French nuclear weapons. Use of just a fraction of the nuclear weapons at the disposal of Russia and US/NATO could annihilate humankind. We are naive if we do not recognize that the chaos of this “conventional” war vastly increases the possibility of a nuclear exchange, brought about by accident, misjudgment based on fear, insubordination, or intentional use to prevent defeat. Omnicide can be the result.
It would be great if world leaders, political and religious, could convince both sides to end the armed conflict soon. At this moment, that appears to be a hope without strength. However, regardless of whether the war ends soon or goes on for years, the ending of the war MUST lead to the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons around the world. It is terrible to think of a war as leading to opportunity, but it will dishonor the casualties of this war if we do not take this opportunity to abolish nuclear weapons.
January 22nd marks two years since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) went into force. It has been ratified by 68 countries, with many more countries having signed and now going through their internal ratification process. None of the nine countries which possess nuclear weapons have signed or ratified. The voice of most of the countries in the world calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons must be heeded. They know that the fact that there has not been a nuclear weapon used in armed conflict since 1945 has been more a matter of luck than of sound policy.
Wars will likely continue, even after the Ukraine/Russia war has ended. But no longer shall any country, any leader, any faction have the power to kill all of humanity. Rather than invest $2 Trillion in the next decades to “improve” our nuclear arsenal, the US must now first use its influence to encourage an end to the war in Ukraine and second to begin the process of reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons.
Thank you, Ed! It is disturbing that our leaders don’t seem to understand this, and that the media rarely report on the increased risk of nuclear war. Ed
“the chaos of this “conventional” war vastly increases the possibility of a nuclear exchange, brought about by accident, misjudgment based on fear, insubordination, or intentional use to prevent defeat.”