Now Mitt Romney wants to push Russia into using nukes and then force China to choose sides. Really.

From an op-ed this weekend in the New York Times by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney:

Some will conclude that to avoid provoking Russia — and thus avoid the prospect of a possible Russian nuclear strike — we should pre-emptively restrain Ukraine from routing the Russian military. We could limit the weapons we send, hold back on intelligence and pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to settle. I disagree; free nations must continue to support Ukrainians’ brave and necessary defense of their country. Failing to continue to support Ukraine would be like paying the cannibal to eat us last. If Mr. Putin, or any other nuclear power, can invade and subjugate with near impunity, then Ukraine would be only the first of such conquests. Inevitably, our friends and allies would be devoured by brazen, authoritarian nuclear powers, the implications of which would drastically alter the world order.

The right answer is to continue to give Ukraine all the support it needs to defend itself and to win. Its military successes may force Mr. Putin to exit Ukraine or to agree to a cease-fire acceptable to the Ukrainian people. Perhaps his control of Russian media would enable him to spin a loss into a face-saving narrative at home. These are the outcomes he would be smart to take. But if a cornered and delusional Mr. Putin were to instead use a nuclear weapon — whether via a tactical strike or by weaponizing one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants — we would have several options.

There are some who would argue for a nuclear response. But there is a wide range of options, and they need not be mutually exclusive. For example, NATO could engage in Ukraine, potentially obliterating Russia’s struggling military. Further, we could confront China and every other nation with a choice much like that George W. Bush gave the world after Sept. 11: You are either with us, or you are with Russia — you cannot be with both.

Russia’s use of a nuclear weapon would unarguably be a redefining, reorienting geopolitical event. Any nation that chose to retain ties with Russia after such an outrage would itself also become a global pariah. Some or all of its economy would be severed from that of the United States and our allies. Today, the West represents over half of the global G.D.P. Separating any nation from our combined economies could devastate it. The impact on Western economies could be significant, but the impact on the economies of Russia and its fellow travelers would be much worse. It could ultimately be economic Armageddon, but that is far preferable to nuclear Armageddon.

Together with our key NATO allies, we should develop and evaluate a broad range of options. I presume the president and the administration are already engaged in such a process. The potential responses to an act so heinous and geopolitically disorienting as a nuclear strike must be optimally designed and have the support of our NATO allies. Mr. Putin and his enablers should have no doubt that our answer to such depravity would be devastating

So here is Mitt Romney’s logic: we must continue to give Ukraine aid — apparently endlessly — so that a war continues until Russia backs down or until Russia is forced to use nuclear weapons in desperation. The reason is that a nuclear power cannot be allowed to invade another country.

Just two decades ago Romney pushed another nuclear power to invade another country. That nuclear power is the Unites States, and Romney was among the vast majority of politicians who supported the invasion of Iraq.

How does Romney justify one invasion by a nuclear power but condemn another? Of course, we see no discussion of this from Romney, who has apparently forgotten the Iraq invasion altogether.

But Romney does not stop there. Once we have pushed Russia into using nukes, NATO (meaning U.S. and European troops) must directly fight the Russians in Ukraine. This means hundreds of thousands of U.S. boots on the ground. This means thousands of Americans dying in Ukraine. And then Romney says we must give an ultimatum to China (another nuclear power) that they are either with us or against us.

What happens if China decides they are with the Russians? Romney doesn’t say, but the implication is more war on a worldwide scale, with nuclear weapons now a part of the battle plan.

In find this way of thinking disgusting and demented. Notice once again that Romney never mentions peace talks or negotiations as a way of avoiding war. The only options for Romney are weapons and arms and more war to force Russia to do his will. This is exactly the kind of thinking that the Book of Mormon warns against. It is this kind of all or nothing warmongering that brought about the death of the Nephite and Jaredite people.

I have another path. We send humanitarian aid to Ukraine. We pray for peace and rely on Heavenly Father to end the bloodshed. We stop sending military aid of any kind to the region. We push for immediate peace talks between the Ukraine and Russian governments. Let’s end the madness and do the exact opposite of what Romney proposes. Before it is too late.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

16 thoughts on “Now Mitt Romney wants to push Russia into using nukes and then force China to choose sides. Really.

  1. It is sickening argument. That Romney would even entertain a progression to nuclear aggression shows his inhumanity. How many millions of dead people would that create? What would be left of Eastern Europe if nuclear missiles are launched? What would be left of the world? Who is being deranged and delusional by putting nuclear war on the table?

    As for alliances, what does Romney say should happen to India and its billion people if it is neutral to Russia? And of course there is China? Is Romney ready to boycott all things China if they are neutral or aligned with Russia? My goodness. The USA better build a whole lot of semiconductor chip factories and figure out how to make all the other things it imports from China before committing economic suicide.

    What is the Romney plan? It seems to be to punish Russia and its people until Putin goes nuclear and then NATO can respond in kind. What is that word that describes such aggressive motives? Oh, that’s right. Warmonger

  2. “How does Romney justify one invasion by a nuclear power but condemn another? Of course, we see no discussion of this from Romney, who has apparently forgotten the Iraq invasion altogether.”

    George Bush hasn’t forgotten

  3. Matt, isn’t that Bush comment the best Freudian slip in the history of Freudian slips? Wow.

    This post is about Romney, but I would like to discuss George W Bush for a minute because it relates to the future of the Republican party and how Republicans can 1)win and become a majority party and 2)respect personal liberty and the Constitution and avoid unnecessary wars while doing so.

    I don’t think people have internalized how absolutely horrific the Bush administration was for our republic. He ran for office promoting a humble foreign policy, and after 9/11 he went full neocon at home and in foreign policy, abandoning all pretense of true conservatism. We got the TSA and a massive increase in domestic spying, as well as a massive spending increase (and remember when W took office the budget was nearly balanced for a year or two). Then we got Iraq and Afghanistan and plans for regime change in Libya, Yemen and Syria. We got the foundations of the U.S. turning Ukraine into a client state. We got the complete establishment squish justice Roberts. I can only think of two things positive W did from a conservative/libertarian perspective: appoint Alito and some other good judges and trying to have a discussion about privatizing Social Security (which was a massive failure, but at least he tried). And of course the failure of W Bush directly led to the failure of Obama and Biden, and to a much lesser extent Trump, who is looking better and better in retrospect but was nonetheless also a failure in so many ways.

    Bush was a failure because he failed to connect with the real concerns of everyday Americans. Everyday Americans don’t want to pay for a war thousands of miles away, they don’t want to have to wear useless diapers on their faces, they don’t want to be forced to take an experimental vaccine, they don’t want a massive government “saving” them. They want to do their jobs and enjoy their families and leisure time.

    Romney has never, ever understood this. He has this patrician air about him, as if he knows best about every subject, and he appears to believe that the plebes should just fall in line and accept his superior judgement. The 2012 campaign was very winnable for Romney, but he simply was not popular with everyday Americans for this reason.

    Now he wants to force the US into a war with Russia in which thousands of Americans will be killed and in which nukes may be deployed. And there is a simple solution: the US should stay out (except for humanitarian aid) and let Ukraine and Russia resolve their problems on their own.

  4. The fundamental question in Ukraine is do we stand by and let the aggressor, Russia, conquer, kill and rape Ukrainians or do we help the Ukrainians defend their lands against the unjustified invaders.

    Do good men stand up and fight against evil aggression, even if it’s not in their own neighborhood, or do they look the other way with the hope that the aggressors will stay out of their neighborhood.

    My hero is Captain Moroni and his armies who came to the defense of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies so that the invading Lamanites would be defeated and repulsed.

    We should support the Ukrainians against their invaders and not allow the Russian threats of escalation intimidate us into sacrificing Ukraine.

  5. Vaughn, you have to choose your battles. Good people do this all the time. There are gangs killing people in the city of Chicago, which is a lot closer than Ukraine, right now. Good people are getting killed each day. Do we put on our super-hero capes and go to Chicago and fight the bad guys? According to your argument, that would be what we should do to fight evil aggression, right?

    Even if we apply your logic to foreign battles only, there are dozens of battles going on right now all around the world. Yemenis are fighting against each other, and the Saudi Arabians are siding with one group against the other and invading Yemen. Do we go to Yemen and fight the Saudis? Actually, in an ironic twist, our tax dollars are being used to *support* the Saudis who are invading Yemen right now. We tried the whole “kill the bad guys in Iraq and Afghanistan” thing for two decades, and we are still doing it to a certain degree, and it cost us $3 trillion, thousands of dead and tens of thousands of casualties and people sent how with PTSD, and guess who is still in power in Afghanistan and Iraq? Different bad guys who are killing innocent people.

    The United States has limited money and limited ability to fight wars. The only wars we should fight are those where we are attacked directly. So if China invades the U.S., yup, we are morally required to fight, and I at my advanced age will go fight myself. But Ukraine is not in our sphere of influence and is not central to U.S. defenses, so, no, it is a fool’s errand to spend even a dime on any military activity there.

    You may want to re-read the chapters about Captain Moroni. He only fought when he had approval from God, and all of his battles were defensive. He gathered the people in one place and allowed the bad guys to attack him. And then he immediately sued for peace. Mitt Romney is doing the exact opposite of Captain Moroni: he is calling for offensive battles against an enemy, and he is in favor of sending money and military forces thousands of miles away to fight. And Mitt Romney makes no mention of suing for peace — all of his rhetoric is about more and more war. And now he is talking about widening the war, rather than decreasing its scope. Mitt Romney shows us exactly how a godly war should NOT be fought.

  6. My brother attended a mid-singles conference over the weekend in California. The Romney’s spoke. My brother felt like their world view is “we’re always right, and you’re not. We get our way, and you don’t”. My brother also said Elder Gong was there, and a much more enjoyable talk — Elder Gong also circulated in the audience for about 45 mins prior to the start of the session. My brother said he is so very down to earth.

  7. Joyce, you might say one is “holier than thou” and the other is “humbler than thou.” I know which one is more Christ-like.

  8. I think there’s a weird and potentially vicious weakness keyed to end-times sign seeking buried in this kind of thing. If some great final battle, probably nuclear, is something that will (theoretically) happen before the second coming, then “is this it?” Like is this fate or something, and so the nations of the world should just go ahead and get it on so we can get to the Jesus part?

    I’m not saying that’s my view, but I often suspect it somehow when nominal Christians are either oddly silent on escalations of war anywhere near Israel, or strangely bellicose about it.

  9. Are we currently in a “proxy war” with Russia? (With Ukraine being our proxy.)

    According to my understanding of the phrase, I would say yes.

  10. History of Russia/Soviet Union and Ukraine.

    This comment is not intended to defend Romney. The purpose here is to give readers an (arbitrary) starting point for reading up on Russian/Soviet vis-a-vis Ukrainian history.

    Please see:

    That was a Soviet intentionally created famine in Ukraine from 1932-1933.

    Either in that event, or later in the 50’s, Stalin depopulated much of Eastern Ukraine (Donbas) of Ukrainians, forcibly removing them to internal exile elsewhere in the S.U. and repopulated much of the Donbas with ethnic Russians by forcing them to move to the Donbas. That is supposedly the backstory of how there got to be a significant portion of Russians in Donbas in the first place.

    Mass relocations is an ancient technique of controlling people. Examples are in the Old Testament.

    Donbas is where much (not all) of the Ukraine bread-basket is, also where mineral resources are (ex. lithium for batteries) and where a good portion of modern industry is now located.

  11. Hasn’t the US put itself in this position, though – the need to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia – because it, and the rest of NATO, has been encouraging them for some time, and explicitly or implicitly saying they would do this?
    So, isn’t it too late to say that the US shouldn’t be involving itself in that country, for these reasons? As in, they kind of already promised they would. (‘Kind of’, because obviously, U. isn’t yet NATO, but if that body didn’t act to help defend, then they’d be showing they were all talk and no action, and U. – and any country like it – couldn’t trust in them).
    Although this implied but not yet official relationship between NATO and U. is the reason the Russian government has done this, isn’t it? And not smaller states nearby. (Aside from previously-mentioned ethnic and historical ties).
    There’s also the matter of the agreement that was signed in 1994 (I was reading about it this week) – the ‘Budapest Security Assurances’, where Ukraine agreed to surrender Russia’s nuclear weapons stored there, and Russia agreed to respect its independence and borders, including not using threat or force against these things. The US and UK promised to continue their support in the event of this agreement being broken by Russia – ‘an act of agression’ against U.
    Apparently this is more moral than legal. But a promise is a promise, and ideally, the US and UK want to keep that promise, unless things changed. So, since the US promised, shouldn’t they be doing that?
    I understand not wanting one’s own people/armed forces protecting foreign countries which can’t help you back, and in conflicts which seem to be someone else’s business. I also appreciate the idea that if nothing is/had been done, this would send a message to China and N. Korea that they could do the same with impunity. What is the right action in this situation? Where we have a world with countries which don’t respect the sovereignty of other countries, imperial aims, and are extra-dangerous because of their nuclear capacities (and the lack of democratic safeguards).
    It seems like there’s no easy choice.

  12. Book and Idealist, nobody is white-washing Stalin’s horrific behavior towards ethnic Ukrainians, at least I am certainly not. Stalin was one of the worst monsters in history. One of the reasons there are neo-nazis in Ukraine today (and there are a lot of them) is that Stalin was a monster, and these people actually saw the Nazis as liberators during WWII. But I would caution that understanding a history as complex as that between Ukraine and Russia is fraught with danger.

    There are some relevant things that have happened more recently. After the Soviet Union fell, the United States and Western allies repeatedly and strongly promised that NATO would never expand eastward. The reason of course was that NATO was an anti-SOVIET alliance, not an anti-Russian alliance. And the Russians in the early 1990s were emerging from decades of hellish Communism, and the US and the West wanted to encourage the people of Russia to embrace freedom and free markets. To a limited extent, and in a very Russian fashion, this happened. And then the United States and the West broke its promise and accepted a long list of Eastern European countries into NATO, which became an anti-Russian alliance instead of an anti-Soviet alliance. So, who broke their promise? Can you see that from the perspective of Russia, we are the bad guys, and now there is a push to make Ukraine part of an anti-Russian alliance. I have written this many times, but you guys simply need to consider it: how would the U.S. respond if Mexico joined an anti-U.S. alliance and the people against the U.S. (China? Russia? Iran?) sent $53billion in military and other aid to Mexico? You cannot call yourself a Christian if you refuse to treat other people and nations like you would want to be treated. More here:

  13. The alternative to NATO adding new members is NATO being canceled.

    Maybe thats not a bad thing from one perspective, but from another it certainly means China and or Russia will fill that void with a military relationship with Europe. Take your pick.

    Next, Ukraine being invaded isn’t at all comparable to a non-argreement not to move expand NATO membership. There was no formal agreement but it was part of a discussion that crumbling Russia was concerned about.

    There was a much more formal security guarantee to the Ukraine that Russia broke and the USA has only marginally done its part, but in my view it broke the agreement. Its a signed document. By the USA, Russia, Ukraine, and Ireland.

    Here’s the relevant clause,
    “The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
    Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to
    seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to
    Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the
    Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an
    act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear
    weapons are used;”

    Has Ukraine been a victim of aggression? Has it been threatened with nuclear weapons? Yes.

    We owe Ukraine our support for the broken agreement by Russia.

  14. Geoff: Good counter-points. It’s a complicated chess-game.

    One counter-counter-point that I would make is that Russia stepped into the shoes of the Soviet Union. In essence, The SU did not disappear. What happend was merely a political reorganization — The bullets, bombs, tanks, and people all remained. The only thing effectively shed were the satrap/satellite countries, and any nukes that happened to have been located in those satellite countries. With few exceptions, the SU was essentially Russia. The SU was dominated by Russia/Russians despite Stalin being Georgian and Kruschev being Ukrainian.

    Most of the SU satellite countries were basket cases and Russia/SU was good to get rid of them. But Ukraine was a “plum” and Russia has always wanted it back.

    Chechnya and Georgia were also plums with oil reseves, and Russia quickly snatched them back. Today, those two are to Russia, what they were previously to the SU.

    As places like Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan become success stories, Russia wants them back too.

    One main difference is that the term “Russian Federation” instead of “Soviet Union” is being used.

    It was the Obama admin that decided to NOT back up the agreement/treaty that Idealist mentioned above, when Russia stole Crimea in 2014, and started/funded the civil war and sent mercenaries to Donbas in 2014.

    It was also the Obama admin that broke our defense treaty (a real treaty, afaik) that we had/have with the Philippines when China stole the Scarborough Shoals and the other shoals (shoals are only above water at low tide) and built them up into full-time islands and put military bases on them.

  15. Good respectful debate so far. I am not a big fan of these on-line debates in general because people inevitably start getting offended and talking past each other. So, I will probably drop out of this debate at this point, but I want readers to know that I have read the position of the supporters of the Ukraine aid, and I have internalized their position, and I still disagree with US aid for Ukraine. But I want to make it clear that I do not believe that the majority of Church members who support aid for Ukraine, including Romney, are acting in bad faith. I can see no evidence that Romney takes these positions for personal gain. He seems to sincerely believe his position is the right one, and intentions count. But I believe even more strongly than ever that he is as wrong as wrong can be. Just to summarize my reasons:

    1)Latter-day Saints and all people should always emphasize peace and diplomacy first. We should sue for peace repeatedly and only reluctantly go to war when we are directly attacked. This is clearly not the case here. Romney NEVER talks about peace. Can there be a more clear contrast with President Nelson’s example?
    2)There is an alternative to aiding Ukraine that will, in the long run, be better for the Ukrainian people, and that is to call for a peaceful solution. The Donbas has been mostly taken over by the Russians, and there is no reversing that situation without U.S. and other NATO troops getting involved. And such an escalation would be catastrophic, with tens of thousands of additional casualties, and perhaps even a nuclear war. The solution is to call for peace talks in which the Ukrainians try to get the best deal they can. I am not in any way defending Russian actions by writing this — I am just saying that the alternative is not acceptable, ie NATO involvement and an escalation of the war.
    3)I think the U.S. people are for the most part well-intentioned, but we are also naive and quick to forget the lessons of history. All of our recent nation-building efforts from Vietnam to today –with a few small exceptions like Grenada and Panama — have been massive, expensive disasters. Vietnam was a disaster, Iraq was a disaster, Afghanistan was a disaster, Syria was a disaster, Libya a disaster, and on and on. We as a people, and especially Latter-day Saints, want to be the “good guys” and we keep on thinking that this time it will be different. Our intervention in Ukraine will be a disaster, both for us and Ukraine.
    4)The primary problem with empires, and the U.S. is an empire, is that they always get over-extended. This has been the case in literally every empire since empires began. But if we think about the Roman empire or the British empire or even the Spanish empire, the primary reason for their downfall was military spending. Wars are expensive, even if we think they are on the right side morally, we are on the wrong side in terms of debt and spending. Our debt is $1 trillion-plus per year. A different foreign policy based on defending North America — and a lot of other cuts in government spending — would bring a new era of prosperity to Americans and would be a great example to the world.
    5)The Book of Mormon was written for our times. One of the primary messages is that Satan stirs up people to get involved in wars. Satan always uses tricks. Do we think the Nephites did not justify their war-making with all kinds of arguments like “we can’t let Lamanite aggression stand!!!” Of course they did. The lesson of the Book of Mormon is to always choose peace rather than war. Romney is not doing this, and it is a shame.

  16. Bookslinger: the mass deportations of ethic groups started in the late 1920s and into the 1930s with Stalin. He then paused for WW2 and started back up again after it was over. People say give Crimea to the Russians. No, give Crimea back to the Tartars, they were there for centuries before the Russians were. Under Brezhnev and others these ethiic groups were allowed to go back to their homelands. Some did, others like the Kalmyks stayed and that’s why you have a Muslim population in the Volga river basin.

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