World War III or Subjugation?

Is this the dilemma the world is faced with today?

Paul Craig Roberts has long been a critic of Vladimir Putin’s policy towards the United States. He stigmatizes his pusillanimous reactions to American provocations, such as NATO’s on-going move East, the seizure of Russian Consular property in San Francisco, the freezing of about $300 million of Russian financial assets, and economic sanctions imposed on Russia which are a case of war absent a U.N. Security Council’s approval. Gilbert Doctorow joins Roberts in his criticism of Putin. As pertinent as their opinion might be, I respectfully disagree. Here is why.

Vladimir Putin is an intelligent, rationale and knowledgeable person. The United States are led by neocons—a bunch of people who are overwhelmed by their emotions and could—one thing leading to another—start World War III. [According to The Royal Institute of International Affairs (April 2014), on thirteen occasions the world came close to a nuclear war due to human errors or technical deficiencies during the Cold War].

Bombing Yemen is ineffective. Joe Biden knows it but vowed to continue anyway! The situation in the Middle East is extremely unstable, and the war in Ukraine shows no sign of abating.

Taiwan is an enigma. The world is unsettled. Vladimir Putin knows it, so does Xi Jinping. Neither one wants to face another Cuban crisis, not even a situation which would be close to it. Both follow a policy aimed at protecting their country’s respective interests while avoiding anything which could make it worse or be viewed as provocative by the United States and increase tension. The United States never, ever declared war with the exception of World War I, and the Iraq invasion of 2003. All the wars fought by the United States were provoked by Washington. The war in Ukraine is a case in point, but so is the war against Mexico, the war against Spain, Vietnam, not to mention the attrition of Indian tribes through repeated treaties Washington knew very well Indians could not abide by, etc. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping know that and act accordingly.

The danger, of course, and this is what worries Paul Craig Roberts and Gilbert Doctorow, is that Vladimir Putin’s and Xi Jinping’s rational, controlled attitude may backfire, and lead to their defeat—a prolonged Ukraine war would do Russia in. A weakened Russia would give China no choice but surrender. Indeed, the risk exists. The question then becomes: What’s preferable? WWIII or subjugation? Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are desperately trying to find a middle way. Will they succeed? As for the neocons, one wonders whether they are aware of the dilemma.

Jean-Luc Basle is a former Vice President of the Citigroup New York (retired).

Featured: The Wild Hunt of Odin, by Peter Nicolai Arbo; painted in 1872.