(Reuters) Russia’s Medvedev: new regions can be defended with strategic nuclear weapons. Quoting Dmitry Medvedev,
“Russia has announced that not only mobilisation capabilities, but also any Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons and weapons based on new principles, could be used for such protection.”
Going beyond the use of tactical nukes, Medvedev’s statement implies Russia could destroy Kiev.
In The Decline of the West, Oswald Spengler enumerated nine cultures, which he described as living organisms. Interesting, but overdone and not particularly insightful, I thought — until now.
Four cultures are relevant to the Ukraine conflict: Western, Chinese, Indian “high cultures” and Russian, which Spengler did not then view as a high culture, though it might so develop. Medvedev’s threat indicates this evolution has not occurred. Russia has taken a wrong turn, away from high culture to a murderous form of cultural narcissism. In consequence, we are in danger of a new dark age. See Address to Davos; Avoiding the New Dark Ages.
In contrast, there is no doubt that China and India, along with neighboring countries, exhibit culture and civilization to the highest degree. Although there is some friction between China and the U.S., it is vital to all humanity that China use its considerable influence to prevent the use by Russia of nuclear weapons. If Russia uses nuclear weapons, there will arise a death cult of revenge in kind.
We are already familiar with such cults with roots in Islamic extremism, who desire nuclear weapons and materials. Thus far, their success has been prevented by
- Self-selection; terror is not attractive to the brightest minds who possess the technical skills required for nuclear terror.
- Vigilance by many people, who, if they agree on nothing else, would not wish nuclear terror on anyone else.
- Since nuclear terror has never happened, there is no desire for revenge in kind, which could attract the very intelligent revenge-seekers who have so far declined terror.
- Absence of a meme. We have seen the power of the meme in social media.
In coming years, there may develop a black market in nuclear weapons.. Those Russians who contemplate nukes in Ukraine must take responsibility for the future, distant or not so distant, of stateless, anonymous nuclear attacks on Russian cities. Mutual assured destruction is a profound deterrent to nation states; not so when the actor is stateless. In the days after 9/11, there was in the U.S. discussion of what threat could be made to the Arab world to deter nuclear attacks by Wahhabi extremists. There was no answer. Time is on the side of the death cult.
Perhaps Dmitry Medvedev comforts himself that the above is hypothetical. There is a related threat that can be realized now. I would normally not discuss this; Dmitry Medvedev makes it necessary. Medvedev and Putin should consult their science advisors. There is a radioactive isotope so deadly that if an amount I leave unspecified were dispersed efficiently in a city like Moscow, the city would have to be abandoned — a second Chernobyl. Remediation is impossible. Decay requires multiple human lifespans. Decontamination would require total demolition of the target area.
This has not happened for two reasons:
- Efficient dispersal requires high level engineering talent of the level that declines terror. It is practical.
- Everyone agrees this should not happen to anyone. Hence vigilance by those who may not be your friends.
Before Dmitry Medvedev spoke, there was such a thing as human decency. That, too, can perish with the Bomb.
As we have seen with other terror, nuclear terror can become a meme. If it does, the problem becomes Avoiding the New Dark Ages. Can mankind survive without cities? Perhaps in a diminished, post apocalyptic fashion, a much smaller number can survive. Spengler’s unfounded theories would be ironically correct. See Russia, the new Sparta; Putin, Lycurgus & Oswald Spengler.
China civilization is far in advance of Russia. Russia’s rulers are in thrall of a murderous cultural complex which may prevent appreciation of the above argument. Russia needs the help of China to regain what is referred to in China as the “correct path.”
The message must be strict and hard: China cannot engage with a country that brings nuclear terror into the world for optional foreign policy reasons. China’s self interest is clear; while Moscow would precede Beijing as a victim, every city in the world is vulnerable to the meme of nuclear terror.
The meme of nuclear terror must see neither the darkness of night or the broad light of day.