Russia's generals need to take the nuke keys from Putin

The past several days have shown Putin to be a dangerous self-serving narcissist who puts his personal glory above the well-being of his own country, and to the extent that he is willing to risk Russia's existence by brandishing nuclear weapons.  Russia's generals, therefore, need to step in immediately and take away his nuclear keys, the same way one would take car keys from a drunk driver.

This would not be the first time that a Russian has saved the world from nuclear war.  During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, a Soviet submarine, the B-59, lost contact with the USSR, and its captain believed that a nuclear war might have already started.  He wanted to use a nuclear torpedo, and the ship's political officer agreed.  This would have been enough to use the weapon except for the fact that Vasili Aleksandrovich Arkhipov's position as second in command required his authorization as well.  This may have been the inspiration for Crimson Tide, starring Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington.  Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov's decision in 1983 not to trust what computers were telling him about a purported American first strike (with only five missiles) also may well have averted an unprecedented disaster.

All that Putin has done by even mentioning nuclear weapons is to cause a dangerous escalation in which a miscalculation by either side could start what is known as "the war that nobody wants."  The First World War was a precedent in which Austria believed it could punish Serbia, and perhaps rightfully so, for its role in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  Russia, as then ruled by Tsar Nicholas II, could not afford to be humiliated in yet another Balkan crisis as it had been previously, so it threatened to enter the war on Serbia's side.  Kaiser Wilhelm II had sufficiently bad judgment to issue Austria a "blank check" in terms of German military support against Russia, which was allied with France and the United Kingdom.  France would not commit to neutrality should war break out, so Germany launched a pre-emptive strike on France, according to the Schlieffen Plan.  This required an invasion of Belgium, whose neutrality had been guaranteed by the United Kingdom.  The outcome left four empires (Germany, Russia, Austria, and Turkey) in ruins along with tens of millions of dead.

Image: National Archives.

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