On Point: Theater Of Panic Repeat: Putin's Russia Threatens World War III and Alaska

by Austin Bay
January 24, 2024

Since 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly threatened to wage nuclear war against Ukraine and European NATO nations supporting Ukraine's defense of its sovereign territory.

In 2023 and in January 2024, Putin and various Kremlin propagandists have repeatedly threatened war. I'll list a few illustrative examples.

Threatening nuclear attack is a threat responsible nations must take very seriously and be prepared to counter, especially when the threat is made by a panicked dictator who has learned the hard way that his expected three-week-long February 2022 "special operation" against Ukraine failed dismally.

2024: Putin confronts a bloody two-year-long war of attrition that has cost Russia at least 400,000 dead or badly wounded soldiers. It's World War I with missiles, drones and 24/7 internet video.

However, Putin is a Cold War veteran who knows the Kremlin's Cold War gambits. Cold War Western anti-war protestors called nuclear devastation in Europe "Euroshima." The ostensible peaceniks argued the existence of nuclear weapons meant "Hiroshima is everywhere" -- just seconds away.

The activists were really Communist sympathizers and a proxy political force for the Soviet Union, which Putin's 21st-century imperialist policy confirms was the Communist-era manifestation of the Russian Empire he seeks to recreate.

The Western dupes ignored Moscow's nukes. As for NATO European and American nukes? Mere possession constituted aggression against global socialism! The protestors staged hyperbolic political street theater. Typical scene: Skeleton-masked demonstrators throw blood-red paint on American flags. Propaganda message to Europeans: You're in a nuclear crossfire -- Russian and American weapons. Spineless French, German, Dutch, Italians, Danes, Greeks, Turks, Belgians, Norwegians -- you may as well surrender.

The Kremlin backed its propaganda with weapons. In the 1970s, Russia began deploying SS-20 theater ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe. The missiles threatened European cities and threatened NATO air bases with short-notice attack. NATO responded to Kremlin escalation with a "dual track" policy pushed by the Carter administration. NATO would negotiate to remove the SS-20s but, should Russia refuse to withdraw them, the allies would deploy equivalent systems. West Germany's Socialist chancellor Helmut Schmidt argued that Jimmy Carter's approach exposed NATO to Soviet political attacks designed to sap the collective will to resist. Schmidt favored a commonsense response that said: "You deploy, we deploy. You negotiate, we negotiate." But Carter insisted on "dual track."

Carter's naivete delighted Kremlin chess masters. Their end game: Negotiations would fail. Leveraging classic anti-American tropes (Adolf Hitler dismissed Americans as "cowboys"), Moscow propagandists portrayed NATO's response to the SS-20s as the aggressive act. Among frightened Europeans, America's promise to protect Europe within its nuclear umbrella would morph into an American nuclear threat to Europe. The chess masters argued this political judo could shatter NATO.

In mid-1983, NATO confirmed it would deploy U.S. cruise missiles to Britain and Italy and Pershing 2 ballistic missiles to West Germany to counter Russian SS-20s.

Western Communist sympathizers demonstrated throughout Western Europe and the U.S. In October, the demonstrations intensified, along with media hysterics. In November 1983, West Germany's parliament approved the missile deployment. The next day, U.S. missiles arrived in Europe. Kremlin chess masters ... were checked.

Today's script differs, slightly. June 2023: Putin warned NATO faces "serious danger" if it continues to supply military weaponry to Ukraine.

November 2023: Putin crony Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president and now deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, warned Poland (A NATO nation) that Russia now considered it to be a "dangerous enemy" and Poland "could end up losing its statehood ..."

January 2024: Russia threatens Latvia (a NATO nation) with retribution for confiscating a Russian-owned building that Russian spies used as a base of operation. Putin propagandist Margarita Simonyan warns a fight between Russia and NATO is imminent -- in other words, World War III "in our lifetime." Putin also issues a decree that includes claims on imperial Russian property in Alaska.

Over the top? But it's the Kremlin's 1980s fear script again. And thankfully, European NATO members are taking it seriously, which is the way to defeat it. German defense minister Boris Pistorius commended NATO's Baltic nations for approving plans to harden their border defenses. Pistorius doesn't see an immediate threat, but an attack in five to eight years is possible. And Germany intends to rearm.

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To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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