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What Would America Look Like If It Lost Wwiii? (bloomberg.com)
15 points by caldarons 21 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 19 comments



If Ukraine falls, I think the West will undergo a major "moral hangover". The West has this strong "freedom ideology" which is pretty powerful both inwards and outwards, it has used it in Ukraine, giving it full blessing in terms of moral support. The West has pretty unilaterally proclaimed Ukraine to be the morally right side fighting for its freedom and that the West stands besides it in its rightful cause.

But now, if Ukraine is abandoned, it's not because too many American lives were dying or anything like that, it will be because it costs some money (even if it's not a huge sum in the larger scheme of things). The freedom narrative are just words, now exposed to be empty of substance. This will have ripple effects on the image of the West both inside and outside.


> The West has pretty unilaterally proclaimed Ukraine to be the morally right side fighting for its freedom and that the West stands besides it in its rightful cause.

I think that’s essentially true in Europe (modulo Hungary, maybe), but it’s somewhat more ambivalent in the US; the presumptive Republican candidate for president is all but aligning with Russia on this one.

To some extent this is probably to be expected; Putin has designs on EU states, particularly Poland, as a next step (you could question how realistic a Russian attack on Poland actually would be, but that does seem to be Putin’s thinking), whereas for the US, the consequences of Ukrainian defeat, while fairly dire, would be more nebulous.


> To some extent this is probably to be expected; Putin has designs on EU states, particularly Poland, as a next step

Poland is a way too hard nut to crack. Attacking it is not necessary in order to advance his goals.

Baltics is just a way easier avenue to destroy NATO and EU to a smaller degree. It has a small population, unfavorable geographics and very small militaries. Even after Russian military was exposed to be far from its pre-war image, conquering Baltics is still within its capabilities. NATO has mostly just tripwire forces deployed there, but it's very far from certain whether they could really trip the wire if Russia managed to present a fait accompli. We'd see many discussions about "should our men die for these tiny faraway lands" or "we shouldn't start a nuclear war for this", but OTOH NATO failing to fulfill its primary role would very possibly mean its end.


> whereas for the US, the consequences of Ukrainian defeat, while fairly dire, would be more nebulous.

Until Trump says that he doesn't give a crap about the Aleutian islands.


> Putin has designs on EU states, particularly Poland, as a next step

source ?

why would it ever make sense for Putin to invade Poland ?

I know it is popular nowadays to portray Putin in the states as a senseless lunatic, but he's far from. Of course he is a merciless power thirsty autocrat, but there's one thing he's not. Stupid.

He only invaded Ukraine because the US left him with no other option.


> why would it ever make sense for Putin to invade Poland ?

It wouldn’t make sense (Russia can barely afford its current war, never mind invading Poland), but guy sure is obsessed with Poland. In particular, see his recent deranged ‘interview’, in which he claimed, amongst other things, that Poland forced Hitler to invade it (this is particularly ominous in that Russian propagandists often claim that Ukraine in some manner forced Russia to invade it).

> He only invaded Ukraine because the US left him with no other option.

… Eh? What bad thing would have happened to Russia, had Putin not decided to attempt an invasion?


> What bad thing would have happened to Russia, had Putin not decided to attempt an invasion?

Ukraine would've joined NATO. [1]

There was no reason for the US to contemplate, if not to pursue, Ukraine to be joining NATO.

Could you consider the collective panic and US reaction if a bordering state were to join the CSTO for example ?

Coups have been performed in countries much farther for much less. [2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine%E2%80%93NATO_relations...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_r...


> Ukraine would've joined NATO.

That's just speculation. Germany has vetoed Ukraine's accession in 2008 and their position was not changed until this war. Same for France.

> Could you consider the collective panic and US reaction if a bordering state were to join the CSTO for example ?

I think US is wise enough to not annex parts of its neighbors to provoke such a reaction.


> Ukraine would've joined NATO. [1]

… So what? Latvia and Estonia have been in NATO for ages.

> Could you consider the collective panic and US reaction if a bordering state were to join the CSTO for example ?

Would Poland, by the same token, be justified in invading Belarus?


The capitalization "Wwiii" threw me for a loop; because every word in the title is capitalized, it didn't occur to me that this was a proper noun, let alone an abbreviation. Until I read the comments, I thought this was going to be about something random like, I don't know, a weird bacteria responsible for all of the biodiversity in the western hemisphere.


What an embarrassing article. In Ferguson's scenario, there's nothing stopping China from "unleashing chaos in major cities" right now. Why doesn't China do it, if the US can't/won't do anything to China in return? Then that somehow turns into Chinese overlords running things in DC and Chinese censorship of the Internet. And all, in Ferguson's tortured logic, for the thoughtcrime of not willing to spend enough money on Ukraine.

I've read RAND's and others' summaries of wargaming a China-US war, and know that defending Taiwan would be difficult. I hope Ukraine can hold out. But bien-pensants like Ferguson making up idiotic scenarios and warp them for the outcomes that support their worldviews does not help.

Another in this vein is from Lucian Truscott. <https://www.salon.com/2023/11/28/you-cant-win-a-by-dribs-and...> Hard to believe that Truscott is, or was, a respected writer during the glory days of New Journalism. You know a piece is bad when even the perennially word vomit-welcoming places like /r/politics don't feature it. (To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, the absence of posts with 17.5K upvotes and 2.5K frenzied comments repeating Slava Ukraini and denouncing Ruzzia is the curious incident.)


This isn't the title of the post. It is misleading. I first thought it was a typo, but it is an opinion piece about WW III. The actual headline is "If You Think World War III Is Unimaginable, Read This"


This is shifting of the Overton Window in plain sight. Lubing the public to accept the blood thirsty policies that are coming.

The drums of war are slowly sounding, and nobody will benefit from this.

What's worse, we can only stand in the corner as spectators, unable to counter this immeasurable inertia of our own animalistic nature.


I remember when WWIII meant we all lose, in (depending upon where the boomers may be) half an hour or less.

Have there been significant advances in mineshaft technology since then?

see also https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/994700393/nuclear-war-c...

or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_independently_targeta...


No, but MAD has so far worked to prevent use of nuclear weapons even in self-defense. MAD hasn't done anything with respect to non-nuclear[1] war using ever more capable non-nuclear weapons.

The large issue now, as it was a big issue then, is still whether or not the powers will get involved, and how if they do.

[1] - It's hardly conventional anymore, just non-nuclear-warhead.


"Gentlemen, we must not have a mineshaft gap!"

I have that I {heart} Nuclear War bumper sticker on the back of my car. The computer game was also awesome. A very hard game to win.


The scenario imagined in the article is more the less the “The Button” sequence from Yes Minister; when _do_ you initiate a full-blown nuclear war? You probably don’t.


The most frequent ending in the card game I mentioned is that as soon as it becomes apparent that one player will lose, they take everyone else with them.

(sure, it may be just a game, but I claim there is at least one nuclear power that (a) cannot credibly claim a "no first use" policy, and (b) has been known to have leaders who fail to accept defeat graciously)

It is of course the duty of psychological warfare operatives to provide a non-button path for losing entities (does "cooling the mark out"* assume there are no psyop-immune "Doomsday Machines" in the launch path?); how confident are we they can do so effectively?

* https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00332747.1952.11...


A leader can only press the first button, they can't press the last button.

Every country has allies to retreat to.




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