Ukraine War, September 26, 2022: Nuclear scenarios

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Joseph Cirincione, “”Putin says nuclear threat is no bluff. We should take him at his word,” Washington Post, September 26, 2022 (2:39 p.m. EDT);

Joseph Cirincione is author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late.”


Cirincione, a real expert, describes the various responses the U.S. and NATO,could adopt to Russian use of a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

He is presumably in close contact with U.S. officials.

Unfortunately, the timid and graduated first responses Cirincione describe are anemic and not likely to impress Putin and the Russians with NATO’s resolve.

Indeed, they are reminiscent of the first sanctions adopted against Russia following its seizure of the Crimea in 2014, which did not deter Putin from invading the Donbas in the summer and particularly in August 2014.

The types of initial responses Cirincione describes are emblematic of the “too little, too late” approach of the Biden Administration to deterrence through economic sanctions, or the delivery of weapons to Ukraine during the first six months of the war.

Biden needs to bring in the best and most experienced defense and diplomatic experts to develop and implement nuclear strategy to deal with Putin’s threats.

The persistent error Biden’s foreign policy team has been to approach issues through the prism of “The Rational Actor Paradigm” or fallacy, as described by Graham T. Allison, John Steinbruner, Robert Jarvis and others.

Once a nuclear weapon is detonated, the conceptual errors inherent in “The Rational Actor Model” or paradigm become decisive, and potentially catastrophic–which seems too weak a word to describe nuclear annihilation.

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About the Author

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.