You don’t really need to find out
What’s going on
You don’t really want to know
Just how far it’s gone
Just leave well enough alone
Keep your dirty laundry
I don’t generally watch long videos, and the one below is over 25 minutes. But I watched it from end to end. I didn’t look away for a moment. If you watch it, you’ll see why:
I’d say the looming prospect of a full-scale nuclear war is important enough to spend 25 minutes watching a video, wouldn’t you? Of course, being in a first-strike target zone will sharpen one’s answer. But even persons far distant from military installations, and therefore unlikely to be part of a counterforce targeting pattern, should take at least some interest in the subject.
No, this isn’t about preparing for Armageddon. It’s about what’s bringing the prospect ever nearer.
First, here’s something I wrote a long time ago. It first appeared at Eternity Road in September of 2003:
Deterrence fails when your opponent is willing to be severely damaged or destroyed if he can first inflict even a far smaller amount of damage on you. At that point, what matters is your own tolerance for death and destruction.
I mulled this over at some length a few months ago, going all the way back to the classics of strategic thinking and conflict resolution — Thomas Schelling; Herman Kahn; Albert and Rebecca Wohlstetter; Bernard Brodie; Donald Brennan; even John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. To a man, they shared an invisible assumption that limited their theory, the theory undergirding MAD and every other warfighting doctrine of the Industrial Age: they assumed that there was a maximum price the opponent was willing to pay for victory.
With some sorts of people, countries and “civilizations,” this assumption does not hold. We have seen this demonstrated by repeated suicide bombings in Israel and by Black Tuesday here in the United States.
Because we have strong, highly constraining views of the value of human life plus a desire to keep on living it — in other words, because there is a maximum price we’d be willing to pay to impose our will on another country — we cannot abide the possibility that a group of madmen willing to die for their cause (and take a whole country with them) might get hold of a weapon of mass destruction and the means to deliver it to our soil. In our hands, it would be just another card to play against an enemy. In the hands of a true fanatic – one who is willing that he and all he values shall be destroyed if only he can inflict harm on his enemy – it would be the Ace of Trumps, not because we couldn’t match it manyfold, but because of our far greater sensitivity to death and destruction, at every level.
Some of the above remains true…but perhaps not all of it.
The cleavage between ordinary Americans and the political Establishment has grown wider as time has passed. You might make a good case that there was no Establishment, as such, before the elections of 1896. However, that watershed year saw the open emergence of the enduring political “machine,” which by virtue of its organization, funding, and commitment is capable of contriving dominance over the political party from which it sprang. Such machines became the Establishments of the two major parties.
These past thirty-five years – I date it from the elevation of George H. W. Bush to the presidency – those party Establishments have coalesced into a national Establishment that holds to Orwell’s observation about such things:
That unified Establishment works to retain its grip on political power, especially at the federal level, and to exclude from the corridors of power anyone who doesn’t share the Establishment’s aims. When a maverick slips through the barriers – both Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump were such – Establishment loyalists immediately encyst him in layers of delay and misdirection. The overriding necessity at that point is to keep him from rocking the Established order beyond what would be recoverable after he’s been purged. An old observation from Oklahoma Senator David L. Boren is much to the point:
Boren, formerly a state legislator and governor, went to Washington expecting to make some changes. “What impressed me most is the great power of the bureaucracy compared to that of elected officials. All the talk about growing control by the bureaucracy is not exaggerated. The shift in power is very real…. There is almost a contempt for elected officials.”…
Senator Boren found, to his surprise, that a Senator has great difficulty even getting phone calls returned by the “permanent” employees, much less getting responsive answers to his questions.
The voters can’t “throw the rascals out” anymore, because the main rascals are not elected but appointed….
Regulatory bureaucrats have extra power because they can outlast the elected officials. “Often,” Boren explains, “I’ve said to a bureaucrat, ‘You know this is not the president’s policy.’
“True, Senator, but we were here before he came, and we’ll be here after he leaves. We’re not in sympathy with his policy. We’ll study the matter until he leaves.’”
[Armington and Ellis, MORE: The Rediscovery of American Common Sense.]
Thus is Establishmentarian dominance maintained. Yet even if you’re in sympathy with most of the Establishment’s aims – if you’re a member, you’d jolly well better be – you might not approve of all of them, nor of the price that might be demanded for their pursuit.
In the Tucker Carlson video embedded above, Colonel Douglas MacGregor advances several quite disturbing theses. The most terrifying of these is that the officials that dominate Washington today are so committed to a Ukrainian victory against Russia that they’re willing to countenance unlimited American participation in the conflict: all the way to threatening to use nuclear weapons.
But the threat might trigger Russia to respond with a full-scale nuclear strike against NATO and the United States. If the roles were reversed, that would probably be the American reaction. For a long time it was our strategic doctrine that when it comes to weapons of mass destruction, the threat is equivalent to the use. That might still be the case; I’ve been out of touch with such things for a while.
A nuclear exchange with Russia, owner of the world’s largest stock of such weapons, would mean the end of the United States as we know it. Therefore we must evaluate the probabilities. Given the reluctance of our ruling elite to admit defeat, my evaluation is a bleak one. So the question of the hour is whether our own war hawks, the officials who have the political altitude to commit the U.S. to such a course, can be deterred from doing so.
The forces that are capable of deterring a power are those that possess a credible capability of inflicting unacceptable damage on that power. That’s what to deter means, after all: to inhibit through fear. But what does our Establishment fear above all other things?
For some people, their greatest fear is of physical pain, mutilation, or death. For others, it’s the fear of being forced to betray their highest ideals. And for still others, the supreme fear is that of losing their perches: the power, prestige, and perquisites of office.
In a more blatant oligarchy – i.e., one that no longer maintains the fiction of the consent of the governed – the fear of being pulled down includes the fear of what would happen next. That’s seldom pretty:
Historically, whenever some troublemaker had roused the rabble to a greater pitch than the Establishment of that time and place could tolerate, it had disposed of him with no compunction and extreme prejudice. There were parts of the world where that was still the inevitable price of rising to power—places where a dismissal from high office was always administered with high-velocity lead. Power seekers in such lands arrived in their palaces with their death warrants already signed and sealed; they merely awaited delivery.
Whether that’s uppermost in the minds of our high federal officials is unclear. If it is, would that increase their commitment to a Ukrainian victory over Russia, or decrease it? More baldly: Would our Establishment rather play nuclear chicken with Russia than admit defeat in Ukraine? Is the Usurper Regime’s fear of the consequences to itself of losing in Ukraine greater than its fear of a nuclear exchange?
Theorists have argued that a counterforce first strike against the U.S. would not target Washington. The aim of such a strike is to disarm the targeted power, putting it in an untenable position for the continuation of hostilities and therefore willing to admit defeat. But that notion, like all the rest of deterrence theory, is founded on the premise that the target nation is deterrable: i.e., that there is some maximum price its rulers are willing to pay for what they seek.
Are men who’ve cheated their way to power, whose felonies and duplicities are even now being exposed to the public eye, and who have good reason to fear the public’s wrath, deterrable? Or is their commitment to themselves and their power great enough to embroil the world in a nuclear war, so that the rest of us would go down with them?