The Pundits Wanting to Risk Nuclear War Are Like the Worst Cold Warriors of Old

by | Mar 24, 2022 | Headline News | 11 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by Ryan McMacken at The Mises Institute. 

    There is an active, influential, and well-paid minority of pundits and politicians in America who apparently believe that escalating conflict between nuclear powers—and even nuclear war itself—is not really that big a deal.

    These, of course, are the sorts of people who fancy themselves “the adults in the room,” while people who proceed with prudence, caution, and regard for the rule of law are to be regarded as traitors, cowards, or Russian agents.

    Consider, for example, Sean Hannity’s March 2 suggestion that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—which really means the United States—should attack a Russian tank column with “some of [NATO’s] fighter jets, or maybe they can use some drone strikes and take out the whole damn convoy.” For Hannity, this would not count as escalation because NATO could elect to not tell the Russians who carried out the attack, and then Moscow “won’t know who to hit back.”

    Meanwhile, support for a “no-fly zone” has been one of the more dangerous avenues to escalation, since a no-fly zone would be a de facto declaration of war on Russia. Sen. Roger Wicker, for example, has said the US should “seriously consider” a no-fly zone. Florida congresswoman Maria Salazar supports a no-fly zone for the very profound reason that “freedom isn’t free.” (Fortunately, most members of Congress appear to recognize that a no-fly zone would mean World War III.)

    And then there are the pundits who have outright treated the gravity of nuclear war with a lot of hand-waving. NBC’s chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, in an apparent reference to nuclear war, implied the US should risk everything in order to destroy a Russian convoy.


    Sam Bowman, a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute, says that nuclear war “is worth risking” if it means making war on Russia.


    Unfortunately, wildly irresponsible calls for assassinations and nuclear escalation are not new and are part of a long tradition that began during the Cold War. By this way of thinking, nuclear war is indeed “worth it” if it means “victory.”

    Today, many of those calling for such things can be found on the center-left—such as Engel—or among self-described “neoliberals” like Bowman. Back during Cold War I, however, the most enthusiastic fans of nuclear war were found in the ranks of Buckleyite conservatives. In either case, the capricious attitude toward nuclear war illustrates the most troubling aspect of the “let the nukes fly” position: those who advocate for “risking it” think they (or some tiny minority of policymakers) ought to decide for the whole human race how many millions will be sacrificed in nuclear flames.

    Cold Warriors for Nuclear War

    It is now generally ignored that leaders of the conservative movement actively campaigned for initiating a nuclear war. William F. Buckley himself, for example, proposed that Western civilization be sacrificed in a nuclear war, if necessary, in order to incinerate the Russians.

    In The JFK ConspiracyDavid Miller noted that many conservatives during the period appeared to have bloodlust:

    President Kennedy’s Decision in 1962 to avoid another invasion of Cuba angered virtually every rightist in America….

    In a column of November 10, 1962, William F. Buckley, Jr. called for a nuclear war against the Russians, arguing that “if ever a cause was just, this one is, for the enemy combined the ruthlessness and savagery of Genghis Khan with the fiendish efficiency of an IBM machine [Ah yes, that efficient Soviet Union!]…. Better the chance of being dead, than the certainty of being Red. And if we die? We die.”

    Bill Buckley was far from the only American rightist to call for nuclear war in the early 1960s. William Schlamm, a John Birch Society member who had helped found National Review in the 1950s told a Cologne, Germany audience in 1960 that the West should be prepared to sacrifice 700,000,000 people in order to defeat Communism.

    Clarence Manion, a conservative radio pundit of the time, proposed a pile of ten million corpses in the name of “winning” the Cold War:

    I am tired of hearing an old man like [Nobel Prize chemist] Linus Pauling cry his fear of death in a nuclear war…. How long does he want to live anyway? If we must fall to Communism, I would rather it be over the remains of 10,000,000 charred bodies of which I would be proud to be one.

    Better Dead than Red? Who Gets to Decide That for You?

    Indeed, the possible extinction of humanity is no big deal if one truly believes that each person is “better dead than Red.” Ronald Hamowy, however, suggested that perhaps it was a bad idea to allow Buckley—or anyone else—to decide for all whether death is preferable to communism:

    Mr. Buckley chooses to be dead rather than Red. So do I. But I insist that all men be allowed to make that decision for themselves. A nuclear holocaust will make it for them.

    In support of Hamowy’s position, Murray Rothbard continues:

    Anyone who wishes is entitled to make the personal decision of “better dead than Red” or “give me liberty or give me death.” What he is not entitled to do is to make these decisions for others, as the prowar policy of conservatism would do. What conservatives are really saying is: “Better them dead than Red,” and “give me liberty or give them death”—which are the battle cries not of noble heroes but of mass murderers.

    Ultimately, the conservative movement began to pretend these opinions had never been expressed at all. As Rothbard explained:

    The true guiding message of the Conservative Movement was enunciated clearly in a public anti-Communist rally years ago by the candid and fiery L. Brent Bozell: “To stamp out world Communism I would be willing to destroy the entire universe, even to the furthest star.” It doesn’t take a radical libertarian not to want to go the whole route, to dance the full dance, with Brent Bozell and the Conservative Movement, the theme of which is not “better dead than Red” but “better you—and you—and you dead than Red.”

    Of course, today’s advocates for de facto nuclear war are coyer about it than the Buckleys and Manions of the past. They don’t come right out and say, “I’d rather incinerate half the world than live in a world where Russians conquered Mariupol!” They call for benign-sounding forms of escalation like “no-fly zones” or just “bombing a convoy.” Or the cryptic “Maybe we should risk everything.” Perhaps that’s progress from the bad old days of 1962. People who actually take nuclear war seriously, however, know that history has shown mobilizations and escalations have a long history of getting out of hand and leading to very bad things far beyond what many political leaders imagined was possible. As much as the pro escalation crowd pretends otherwise, the fact is that not every problem in the world can be solved with military action.



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      1. If we’re gonna have a nuclear war let’s get them first so we can know we son before their missiles land in the US and kill us.

        Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

        Besides, a small global thermonuclear war might end up being good for the economy, nothing else on the horizon seems like it’s gonna be any time soon.

        • Yea, I’ve read about all the nuke war games and scenarios played out too. From what I know the scenarios are based on a mix of strategic and tactical factors, known enemy capabilities, political factors, and probabilities to name a few. In reality there are so many factors one cannot accurately predict regardless what we believe. Any of the best strategists will always tell you real time intelligence and accounting for various human thought processes are vital factors too, and who can possibly know that. All scenarios however are theoretical of course. Truth is, given human nature no one can really say how a nuke exchange would turn out except really really bad. And there is no way China or Russia would engage in merely a “limited” exchange against the West.
          After after a nuke war the global biosphere would be poisoned for thousands and thousands of years, probably irrevocably for humans because many of the massive isotopes released in the environment have a half life of tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years, which may outlast the future of humanity anyway on this planet, even without a nuke war.
          It’s all madness, and the proponents of nuke exchanges to any degree are mad. Anyone who wants to have a nuke war don’t do it for my sake.

      2. The new Cold Warriors are far worse; they aren’t ignorant and willing, but knowledgeably, fanatically obsessed with sacrificing everyone else’s well being for a figment of their own.

        Like the COVID-1984 doctors who willingly and knowingly enforce no-ivermectin, vax-only solutions to a cold and even get vaxxed themselves (or claim to).

        They know its a lie and he consequences are deadly – but they are just so emotionally deranged they just can’t and won’t have it any other way.

      3. I heard the speech that US intel had information the Ruskies could be preparing chemical weapons for possible use in Ukraine, and that the US and NATO would have to respond in kind if that happened. Here’s what that really means – The US has consistently failed to find a way it can construe a legitimate attack against Russia because Russia has not physically attacked or threatened US or NATO countries or their interests in any way. And, there is no broad support for war among American or European citizens. Knowing these things, the neo-cons need to have an excuse to legitimize an attack, then have popular support for the accompanying war because once an attack is made on Russian forces general war will undoubtedly follow. False flag chemical attacks to blame on Russia like the ones in Syria will do nicely to help change a lot of people’s mind. Without trying to make it sound personal, there is nothing so low that the neo-cons won’t do if it helps their agenda. Should the neo-cons carry this out it will be worthy of being recorded in the annals of Crimes against Humanity – Unspeakable Acts of the Most Depraved Criminals in Human History.
        Who in their right mind believes Russia wants to gas Ukraine population centers. First of all, they share the same DNA, they are genetic but brothers and sisters. Secondly, does anyone think the Russians believe they will win the hearts and minds of the Ukrainian people by gassing them. This is the most juvenile piece of propaganda I’ve heard yet. This shows the neo-con State is running out of options, they are losing their patience, they are eager to get the war started with Russia. The neo-cons are insane with hate for Russia and willing to sacrifice you, your children and grandchildren, and everything you love, to satisfy their hatred and their agenda.

      4. This is what happens when we allow mentally ill people to run governments all over the world. If the rest of us are so intelligent, why are we allowing this tyranny to continue?

        • ???Ahhhh, HAHAHAHAHAHA???

          Who do you think you’re trying to fool? “Intelligent”!!?? You’ve got to be kidding me. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like if the idiots on this site ran the government. Oh wait,…we just had 4 years of that. Yep, it would be a MAGA shit-show all over again…

          • Yeah, we had the best four years in recent American history, everything getting better and better along with the best economic conditions the world has ever seen.

      5. Infants and small animals have an instinctual fear of so many sleeper agents with these same politics. When they walk past a bouquet, it wilts and browns. You are poison to every industry you have captured. You are the gremlin in every machine, but believe you will bring life back to planet Earth.

        “…the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
        — from Rev 6

      6. Bravely, the President just declared war on Russia. As we can see, Russia can’t fight its way out of a paper bag. In WWII Russia only made progress against Germany by sacrificing millions of its soldiers and with weapons and materials provided by the US. They were notorious for being as gay as the day is long when they were captured in their millions by the Germans and put into prison camps.

        Today, Russia would never receive help from the US and it can’t afford to sacrifice millions of its young men in a dwindling population.

        A shock and awe attack on Russia would take the country down in weeks. There is nothing to Russia outside the main cities and Russia would seize functioning very quickly.

        China ?? is not prepared to sacrifice its young men for Russia so they would stand by.

      7. The caviler attitude of far too many on both sides of the isle, along with their media cheerleaders championing escalation while disregarding both the cause that brought the world to this point and the extreme danger negates the belief that higher education equates to logic. During the Cuban Missile Crisis almost 60 years ago, Air Force Chief Of Staff Curtis LeMay recommended that President Kennedy bomb the missile sites in Cuba. When pressed by Kennedy what would be the Soviet response to losing hundreds or more personnel LeMay replied, “they will do nothing”. JFK then told LeMay, “If your wrong they’ll be no-one left alive to tell you so”.

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