Playing with Nuclear Holocaust

As I write this on Feb. 24, in the early morning hours, the invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine has begun, and aerial bombardment is being carried out against its cities; such a serious event taking place after Russia threatened the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine by supporting the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. I will write about this in subsequent articles that will analyze aspects of this situation and the position that the dictatorial regime prevailing in our country has adopted.

For now, I will address the fact that the invasion and confrontational drift that has occurred between the major Western powers and Russia is taking place in the context of a nuclear age. This time, the well-known phrase “playing with fire” refers to that apocalyptic nuclear dimension of conflict.

In a recent article, the great writer and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa pointed out that “many lessons for this world could be blown to pieces if Russia, quite possibly, invades Ukraine and suddenly and unintentionally starts World War III. This is how the second and first world wars began, without anyone planning them or foreseeing — above all — their consequences: the millions of dead.”

The advent of the nuclear era — the possibility of obtaining energy by manipulating the nucleus of the atom — began on July 16, 1945, in a desert area in the southwestern United States, when the U.S. detonated the first test atomic bomb. It was during World War II, Germany had already been defeated in Europe, but Japan refused to surrender unconditionally. President Harry Truman, who was attending the Potsdam Conference in Berlin (July-August 1945), decided to use the new weapon. And so, atomic bombs were dropped on Aug. 6 on Hiroshima — about 100,000 people died — and on Aug. 9 on Nagasaki, where just under 100,000 died, despite the fact that the bomb was more powerful. The lower number was due to Nagasaki’s terrain.

Japan surrendered the following day, on the sole condition that Emperor Hirohito would keep the throne. The surrender was signed on Sept. 2 as Gen. Douglas McArthur presided aboard the battleship Missouri anchored in Tokyo harbor amid an impressive squadron. That day ended World War II, which had begun on Sept. 1, 1939. The war lasted exactly six years and one day and exacted a death toll of just over 40 million people.

It is that kind of nuclear war — which could ultimately prove to be an existential event for human civilization — that was the subject of fiction during the Cold War (1945-1989) and is the war feared by the Peruvian Nobel Prize winner Llosa and by everyone on the planet.

According to international news reports, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he cannot rule out the possibility that Vladimir Putin may try to go further in attempting to influence neighboring nations, especially those that were part of the Soviet Union and which have now joined NATO. Fortunately, at this point, the U.S. has imposed only economic and individual sanctions on Russia.

But it should not be forgotten that Article 4 of the NATO treaty states that NATO members shall consult with each other when, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of them is threatened. Pursuant to that provision, NATO convened a virtual summit of leaders for Friday, Feb. 25, a summit that is taking place as you read this article, to consider the invasion of Ukraine, a country which has asked to join NATO, something Russia is firmly opposed to.

We are facing a fluid and risky situation that may get out of control, and that is a reason for universal concern.

About this publication

About Patricia Simoni 164 Articles
I began contributing to Watching America in 2009 and continue to enjoy working with its dedicated translators and editors. Latin America, where I lived and worked for over four years, is of special interest to me. Presently a retiree, I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I enjoy the beauty of this rural state and traditional Appalachian fiddling with friends. Working toward the mission of WA, to help those in the U.S. see ourselves as others see us, gives me a sense of purpose.

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