Hiroshima and Nagasaki again?


Maybe it is mentally more comfortable not to think that nuclear war is just a few inches from the button, as once hinted by US President Donald Trump.

Last week, he said, “We are close to World War III.”

The “N” word is fast becoming more than a mere threat. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned he is “nuclear-ready.” The US and the EU gave a similar response.

Look, I am no alarmist or sentimental pacifist, but I am worried. I remember the millions of lives lost in WWI, WWII, the Vietnam war, the Korean war, the stalled Afghanistan invasion, the deadly bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, etc. What about Japan’s unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbour?

All this had as much to do with the temperament of the leaders as much as who attacked or about to attack whom first.

I am puzzled as to why this Russian war in Ukraine was allowed to start so ferociously and appear so endlessly – compelling one to question the adrenaline level and rationality of leaders.

Or is it, too, that war has its own morality? I am puzzled as to why the US, EU and NATO could not put forward three months ago, a soothing proposal that Ukraine would not join NATO and that Russia would not attack Ukraine – just as a starting point for further negotiation and demilitarisation? The brutal escalation is frightening.

We know this situation has historical complexities, especially with the 1991 fragmentation of the Soviet Union, ethnic nationalism, and the forced annexation of Crimea in 2014. However, the political and security sacrifices made three months ago would have been worth saving thousands of civilian lives, and the massive destruction of so many Ukrainian schools, hospitals, factories, railways and cities. Over 12 million have already fled Ukraine into western-border countries like Poland and Slovakia.

When will it end? If it does, who will rebuild Ukraine? The US, EU, UK, France, Germany? Russia? Who will pay? Taxpayers? Will there be a “Marshall Plan” as happened for Germany and Europe after WWII?

So the same countries which contributed to the damage will pay to rebuild? What about all the dead innocent civilians? Will this sinful tragedy be excused as collateral damage?

These are humanitarian questions. Pope Francis called this horror "a most macabre regression of humanity.”

One way to help stop the warfare is for democracy to come alive in Russia, that is, for its citizens to press Putin to stop. This is improbable in Russia, but quite possible in the US and EU.

There are burdens and suffering all around. Putin, now described as a “modern Hitler,” is behaving like a cornered cat against a wall. Has he come too far to turn back now? Saving face is important for him on the world stage.

This is part of the psychology of political pride. A captain would rather let the ship sink and him with it than let somebody else take over – the bad-minded irrationality of self-destruction.

The sporadic protests inside Russia do not bother Putin. The mass media there are dumbed down, communist-style.

Yes, we know Ukraine is an independent, sovereign state that can decide to join NATO or not.

Not that simple. Ukraine wasn’t that independent some years ago. And further, there are millions of pro-Russian people inside Ukraine, especially in eastern Ukraine. In fact, feeling threatened by NATO’s western proximity, Putin has already captured eastern Ukraine and is moving westward.

His stated plan is to capture as many Ukrainian cities as he can and make them Russian satellites.

Meanwhile, the US stresses its bulky financial (US$33 billion) and heavy, top-notch military aid to Ukraine is to help “weaken” Russia’s economy and military. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy keeps asking for more. The EU, UK, Germany and France have all joined in this mass aid offensive without unleashing a direct military attack against Russia. At least not yet. But Putin sees military aid as an “attack” against Russia and warns of “severe consequences.”

So how could this war end? There is a growing fear that a desperate Putin would trigger a “satanic” nuclear strike. After recently meeting Putin, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres sorrowfully declared: “Putin has no intention to end this war.”

Meanwhile, about 20 nuclear-armed submarines are hovering in the Black and Baltic seas.

And I remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


"Hiroshima and Nagasaki again?"

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