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Chance of Nuclear War: 25%
Tonight's forecast: dark
Sometimes people ask me if I drum up bad news to make money. Of course not. That’s a terrible business model. The money is in telling people what they want to hear. That’s why partisan TV pundits like Tucker Carlson and Rachel Maddow make the big bucks. Every weeknight, you can tune in to discover that everything you believe is right and true and those who disagree with you are evil morons and possibly not even human. Instead, news at Unprepared is like a big plate of chicken livers and brussels sprouts. It’s good for you, it’s what you need, but you may not want to swallow it.
(If you like chicken livers and brussels sprouts, subscribe to Unprepared if you’re not already.)
If you’d asked me about the chance of a nuclear war in January, I would have probably pegged it at 1%. In March, I gave it about a 10% chance, which seemed about right: it was tenfold what it had been, but still a 90% chance of not happening.
I was called a fearmonger then, but it turns out I may have been overly optimistic. Leon Panetta was both CIA director and Secretary of Defense under Obama, which means he has info and connections (and isn’t a random nut), recently penned an opinion piece for Politico in which he said:
“Some intelligence analysts now believe that the probability of the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine has risen from 1-5 percent at the start of the war to 20-25 percent today.”
From 1% at the start of the year to up to 25% (1 in 4) today. I don’t like the way that graph looks.
Panetta isn’t the only one sounding the alarm. Jeremy Shapiro is the research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations and was previously a higher-up in the State Department. In a piece for War on the Rocks, Shapiro says bluntly, “We Are On a Path to Nuclear War.”:
“What began as a criminal Russian aggression against Ukraine has become a proxy war between Washington and Moscow. The two sides are locked in an escalatory cycle that, along current trends, will eventually bring them into direct conflict and then go nuclear, killing millions of people and destroying much of the world.”
…well alrighty then. Shapiro walks through a potential scenario that would lead to a worldwide nuclear war. He tempers that with the exhortation that it’s not inevitable, but he is firm in that right now, this is the path that we’re on simply because no one wants to back down.
There is one bright spot: Shapiro points out that the West has already crossed many of Russia’s red lines… with almost no consequences. It’s entirely likely that Russia’s nuclear threats are nothing but bluster. However, the danger is that the West becomes overconfident and goes too far over the line.
I’m personally quite bullish on a nuclear conflict of some kind breaking out simply because no one seems interested in stopping it. In the past, this is the sort of situation where world leaders from the president to the pope would be jumping in and trying to smooth things over. Instead, no one important seems to care, and the only person resembling a “world leader” who has even tried to suggest peace, Elon Musk, was loudly condemned.
We’re very much in a car speeding downhill with no brakes (a situation I’ve literally been in). Ukraine and the West will settle for nothing less than the overthrow of Putin. Putin and Russia will settle for nothing less than Ukraine. There is no halfway point, no compromise. It’s win or die.
And as I’ve said from the start, this is very much a holy war for Russia, as evidenced by the icons of Mary and baby Jesus that are replacing billboards around Moscow.
Though personally, I could get behind replacing more advertising with art.
Which leads us to our conclusion. In our last nuclear scare post, we broke from our usual nuclear prep talk to discuss taking this opportunity of possible imminent doom to focus on what matters in life, whatever that is for you.
Might I suggest taking this week’s opportunity to get your spiritual house in order, whatever that looks like for you? I certainly have my own thoughts, but Unprepared isn’t the venue for that. However, I’ve been taking time lately to take a deep dive into what really makes me tick. What stirs my soul?
Maybe that doesn’t seem relevant to prepping, but I think it’s important to really understand yourself, what drives you, and what makes you tick. Because when things get hard, all that will be tested. What is your bedrock? From where do you push yourself back up when you’re at your lowest?
And maybe pray that cooler heads prevail and the men that style themselves as “leaders” act like it.