This July 16, 1945, photo shows the mushroom cloud of the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test Site near Alamagordo, New Mexico. (AP)
By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 06 May 2022 10:45 AM
A lessening fear of the United States is a major reason China and Russia have been threatening to use nuclear weapons, one Chinese expert said.
Author Gordon Chang, senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, wrote that Russian President Vladimir Putin and China President Xi Jinping have been emboldened since President Joe Biden took office.
In a Gatestone opinion column, Chang quoted Hudson Institute senior fellow Peter Huessy.
“The bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan and the unwillingness to effectively support Ukraine since our 1994 guarantee and especially over the past year have led nuclear-armed enemies to ratchet up threats to the U.S. and its allies,” Huessy told Gatestone in March, Chang wrote. “They sense a growing American weakness.”
Despite Putin and Xi’s nuclear threats, Western leaders have been determined not to believe them, Chang wrote.
“In response to Russian threats, President Joe Biden on February 28 said the American people should not worry about nuclear war,” Chang wrote. “On the contrary, there is every reason to worry.
“In line with Western thinking, presidents and prime ministers have almost always ignored nuclear threats, hoping not to dignify them. Unfortunately, this posture has only emboldened the threat-makers to make more threats. The later the international community confronts belligerent Russians, Chinese, and North Koreans, the more dangerous the confrontations will be.
“The world, therefore, looks like it is fast approaching the worst moment in history.”
Chang referenced several recent Russian threats, including one on a state-owned TV program during which Aleksey Zhuravlyov, chairman of Russia’s pro-Kremlin Rodina Party, urged Putin to nuke Britain with a Sarmat, the world’s largest and heaviest missile.
“The program noted that a missile launched from Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave would take 106 seconds to hit Berlin, 200 seconds to reach Paris, and 202 seconds to obliterate London,” Chang wrote. “The NATO designation of the Sarmat is ‘Satan II.'”
Chang also cited a Russian media executive who called on Putin to launch a “Poseidon underwater drone with a ‘warhead of up to 100 megatons'” that would create a 1,640-foot tidal wave that would “plunge Britain to the depths of the ocean.”
“This tidal wave is also a carrier of extremely high doses of radiation,” executive Dmitry Kiselyov said, Chang wrote. “Surging over Britain, it will turn whatever is left of them into radioactive desert, unusable for anything. How do you like this prospect?”
As for China, Chang said that the country’s defense minister in March promised the “worst consequences” for countries helping Taiwan defend itself.
Chang expounded on why Russia, China, and even North Korea have threatened “to launch the world’s most destructive weaponry.”
Besides a decreasing fear of the U.S., Chang cited the desire to intimidate enemies and “a last-days-in-the-bunker mentality” as reasons for the increased nuclear threats.
Russia, Chang noted, has a nuclear doctrine known as “escalate to deescalate” – more accurately, “escalate to win,” which contemplates threatening or using nuclear weapons early in a conventional conflict.
“Because the Western democracies have largely stood down and are clearly not fighting in Ukraine, Beijing and Pyongyang want similar successes,” Chang wrote.
“These threats may reveal that the leaders of these regimes share a last-days-in-the-bunker mentality. Both Russia and China, albeit in different ways, are ruled by regimes in distress, which means their leaders undoubtedly have low thresholds of risk.”