I circulated this podcast in my newsletter last week indicating that I hadn’t yet listened to it. Then I did. It was a doozy. In response to the question of what the West should actually do if Russia started using nukes, the interviewee’s body language held up for a paragraph or two before she disappeared into a black hole:
I think the United States has been very clear that it would respond very sharply. The President’s been clear that the United States itself would not be responsible for nuclear escalation. The United States does have many response tools and has been clear. It would use them in the cyber realm and potentially in the conventional realm.
But I think it’s important also to note, again, the kind of moral criticism that the Russian Federation would come in for. The United States has, or in the responsibility for the use of nuclear weapons in wartime — the only use in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This moral responsibility would shift squarely to the Russian Federation.
In the case of a use in this conflict in Ukraine, and Russia would go forward with that kind of stain and burden. Russia is a pariah state at the moment, but it would be signalling it’s readiness to be in that state for a long time to come.
So there you have it. If cyberwar and conventional weapons don’t stop nukes, will the Russians really be able to look at themselves in the mirror — especially as they realise just how disappointed we all are at how mean they’ve been? (To say nothing of how much more disappointed we’ll be at Vladimir who started all this!). They may never win Eurovision again.