Vladimir Putin delights in outwitting President Obama at every turn. But is the President right when he says that Putin’s Syria adventure is “not a smart, strategic move?” [Credit: Daily Mail and Getty Images]
The U.S. and Russia blundered to the brink of nuclear war in 1983 according to recently declassified documents
, a reminder that as frayed as relations between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have become, things could be far worse.
The NATO exercise that threatened mutually assured destruction began with a fictional scenario that today doesn’t seem all that fictional — Russia delivers arms to Syria and Iran.
Leaders of several Gulf States, threatened by Russian intervention, seek U.S. military involvement, according to the scenario. The President responds by dispatching military advisers to the region and increasing our naval presence there.
As the NATO war game played out, rising tensions eventually provoke Russian military aggression against its neighbors. The U.S. President, in response to a request from his military commanders, authorizes the “limited use of nuclear weapons against pre-selected fixed targets.”
Russian military leaders who observed the NATO exercise concluded that the U.S. was plotting a real nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. American intelligence officials had no idea at the time how badly the Soviets were misreading our intentions or how close the world was drawing toward nuclear conflagration. War was averted. But just barely, if the newly declassified intelligence assessments are to be believed.
Today, Russia is doing far more than merely supplying arms to Syria and Iran, leaving President Obama frustrated and flummoxed, but not fumbling for the nuclear launch codes. Instead, the President watches helplessly as Vladimir Putin asserts himself in a region where the U.S. once held sway, vaguely warning that Russian intervention is “not a smart, strategic move.”
He may be right. Continue reading