Lesson Taught. Was It Learned?

I recently rated the first 13 presidents I have lived under (I excluded Joe Biden) and I ranked Harry Truman as number 1. I did that in large part because of his decision to use the atomic bomb to end World War II. That was arguably his most controversial decision and many people take the exact opposite view of it. We could debate that ad nauseam, but we will not today, at least not here. Today I want to explore a seldom, if ever, discussed repercussion of that decision.

I am a believer in the MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) theory. The basic concept is that nobody would start a nuclear war with another nuclear power because the ensuing exchange of nuclear weapons would destroy both countries. In plain language you would have to be crazy to do that. In using the atomic bomb – and today’s nuclear weapons are much more potent – Truman showed the world its destructive power.

The threat of a nuclear exchange hangs over the current conflict in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened the use of nuclear weapons. This brings me to the second meaning of the MAD theory (as in you would have to be insane to use nuclear arms).

Questions rage as to Putin’s current mental state and therein lies the danger. I certainly lack both the proximity and expertise to rule on Putin’s current mental state so don’t expect an answer here. The lack of a definitive answer should not be mistaken for lack of concern. Therein lies the wild card in this entire situation. Would a desperate Putin resort to using nuclear weapons? I simply do not know the answer.

The irony that this article is being published on the Ides of March has not escaped me. One hope is that if Putin is unstable, he is removed via an “palace coup”.

Truman taught the lesson the question is did Putin learn it.

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