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The thing about Putin: It’s not the 1930s anymore

Russian President Vladimir Putin leads a State Consul meeting in Moscow on June 21.Mikhail Metzel/Associated Press

Letter writer Jim Novak tries to equate the situation in Europe in the 1930s with the one today in Ukraine (“It is shameful how we are allowing the destruction of Ukraine,” June 17). However, everything changed after 1945, when many countries developed nuclear weapons. Up until the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the outcome of a war was simpler to predict: The side with some combination of the most powerful weapons, the most manpower, and the most effective generals would win. That is no longer the case in a war between nuclear powers; either nuclear power could force a draw through the threat of so-called mutual assured destruction.

In a conventional war between NATO forces and Russia, NATO would win easily; the NATO countries’ population is far greater than that of Russia, and the democracies are more productive and would have superior weapons. Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that in a war with NATO, he might use nuclear weapons. This is blackmail, pure and simple: Stay out or I’ll end the world. However, the threat has to be confronted, sooner or later, or dictators with nuclear arsenals will get whatever they want by means of this threat. So, I agree with Novak’s conclusion that we should not allow Russia to have its way.


Jon Plotkin