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.