Ukraine War, March 11, 2022 (II): Putin’s brilliant success in implanting fear in Joe Biden’s mind–“If you fight me, One, Two, Three, World War III”



1) Nick Allen, “Joe Biden warns of ‘World War III’ if Nato pitched into conflict with Russia; US president personally vetoes plan to send fighter jets from Poland, reportedly fearing it could escalate tensions with Vladimir Putin,” The Telegraph, March 12, 2022 (12:14am);


Putin’s Brilliant Psy-Op success in implanting the fear of nuclear war in Joe Biden’s subconscious

Nick Allen in The Telegraph reports on Biden’s personal decision to block the transfer of older fighter jets to Ukraine, as many have asked for, including 40 Republicans in the Senate. He also quoted Biden’s statement defending his decision:

Earlier this week, Poland publicly announced it was offering its 28 MiG-29s to the US.

It would send them to the US air base at Ramstein, Germany, so they could then be transferred to Ukraine.

But the US president dismissed the possibility, fearing it could lead to a direct conflict.

He said: “We will defend every single inch of Nato territory with the full might of a united and galvanised Nato.”

But he added: “We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine. Direct confrontation between Nato and Russia is World War Three, something we must strive to prevent.”

Biden’s statement, one of many similar statements in the last three months, underlines the extraordinary success Putin has had in implanting in Biden’s subconscious the following refrain:

“If you fight me, One, Two, Three, World War III.”

Biden has set the policy, and government foreign policy and military officials have been quick to parrot the thought, which no one contradicts. Taking their cues from their sources, journalists (both TV and newspaper) have internalized the same refrain:

“If you fight me, One, Two, Three, World War III.”

With this kind of signal from the top, it is hardly surprising that military officials and even outside experts have treated the question of the connection between doing anything that Putin might consider an escalation to be a taboo topic.

There are many academic and think tank experts who are knowledgeable about the theories and realities of nuclear escalation who know better, but they have no incentive to oppose the president’s policy, which has effectively cut off all discussion.

To a layman like the Observer, it is not at all clear why the transfer of the Polish jets to Ukraine would necessarily lead to nuclear war with Russia. There are many, many steps on the escalatory ladder that would have to be mounted before the U.S. and NATO engaged in any kind of a nuclear exchange.

What the Polish jets episode underscores is the extreme fear Biden has of Putin, particularly when he says “boo” and threatens “World War III”.

Putin’s employment of his Psy-Op operation, using the threat of “World War III”,  goes back at least to his successful effort to implant the fear of nuclear war in the subconscious of President Barack Obama, in 2014 if not earlier, when Russia invaded first the Crimea, and then the Eastern Ukraine provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Its use continued in what should have been a showdown between Russia and the United States in Syria, and was successful. Obama blinked, withdrawing support for the Syrian Liberation Army and other “moderate” rebels seeking to overthrow the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Putin frequently has used surrogates to deliver his threats of Armageddon, or World War III, if the U.S. does anything to resist him on the military plane.

One of his principal objectives as he launched  the invasion of Ukraine was to block any military response by NATO or NATO countries to his war of aggression.

It is striking that in all of his decisions, Biden’s primordial fear of nuclear engagement has been determinative. Allen reports Biden’s further statements:

He said Nato was “one movement”, which is why he had moved thousands of US troops along the borders with Russia.

“Because they move once, granted, if we respond, it is World War Three,” Mr Biden said.

“But we have a sacred obligation on Nato territory, a sacred obligation, Article Five … although we will not fight the Third World War in Ukraine.

“The idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment, and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews – just understand. Don’t kid yourself. No matter what you all say, that’s called World War III. Okay? Let’s get it straight here guys.”

It emerged that Mr Biden took the decision after advice from officials at the Pentagon and US intelligence chiefs, who believed Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, would view it as “escalatory”.

Putin has been spectacularly successful in achieving his goal of keeping NATO out of the conflict, in no small part due to the extraordinary success of his Psy-Op operation to implant a great fear of “World War III” in the deepest recesses of Biden’s subconscious.

Another example of Putin’s success with “If you oppose me, One, Two, Three, World War III” has been the knee-jerk reaction of the Biden Administration to a proposal by a distinguished group of foreign policy experts and former officials to establish a “limited no-fly zone” to protect agreed-upon humanitarian corridors.

The signatories of the letter included Gen. (Ret.) Philip Breedlove, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (during the 2014 Russian invasion of the Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine), and William Taylor, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

Nonetheless, Biden’s team rejected the proposal almost instantaneously, leaving no option in place for resisting Russian barbarism in bombing and shelling cities and their civilian populations.


“Ukraine War, March 8, 2022: Limited no-fly zone; Crimes against Humanity, War Crimes, the Crime of Aggression,” The Trenchant Observer, March 8, 2022.

This article includes a link to the text of the letter containing the “limited no-fly zone” proposal.

If he weren’t president of Russia and didn’t need it, Putin would certainly merit the KGB’s (or its successor’s) highest award for conducting one of the most successful Psy-Op programs since World War II.

The Trenchant Observer

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James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.