‘So how mad is Vlad? Cold War-era nuke fears back as Putin looks increasingly desperate’ – Chris McLaughlin

Chris McLaughlin is realistic about the chance of surviving a nuke but he’s not convinced Comrade Putin is really as mad as he is making out – is it all scare tactics?

How strong is he really?

When I was in charge of nuclear war planning for a large chunk of London, an officer in the Army top brass took me aside to deliver a chilling piece of advice.

“Forget all that protect and survive hiding under the table stuff,” came the plummy voice from under the peaked cap. “You’ll be much better off going in the first bang.”

Protect and Survive was a little pamphlet sent out by the Government telling us how to get through a nuclear war.

It was about as useful as holding it over your head when the four-minute warning sounded. The Army bod’s stark message was that the horrors of post-Armageddon existence would be far, far worse than sudden death.

It says everything about the seriousness of preparations for survival that civic responsibility for liaising on who got to go in the bunker and trivial things like which civilians might be shot – looters first – was passed down to the youngest, most junior member of the local authority .

We all knew: they wouldn’t, would they? Couldn’t, surely wouldn’t.

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That was then, when the Cold War was beginning to heat up in an arms race, with US missiles piling up on British soil, pointing at Moscow.

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Here we are again. Households flocking to buy DIY nuclear bunkers. This time it’s Vlad the Invader threatening “consequences the like of which you have never seen in your history” if the West so much as dips a wingtip across the border to alleviate the suffering and torment of the Ukrainian innocents. Nuclear war. World War Three.

But he wouldn’t, would he? Only a madman would contemplate…

President Vladimir Putin might only be pretending to be mad to frighten Boris Johnson and our military masters in Washington.

As he hides under his bottle-strewn desk in Number 10, Boris will take little comfort from the fact that the suffering of Ukraine will at least deflect from his own demise. For now.

Charles Powell, Tony Blair’s chief of staff, says that the deranged, megalomanic, brutal dictator had always been “rational” until now, echoing the diplomatic comfort blanket clutched by the West that the Russian leader had always been “pragmatic”.

So how mad is Vlad?


POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

No light burns as bright as hindsight. But this is the President who all the while presided over a string of naked violations of international law, from annexing Crimea to bombing civilians in Syria, while London became the laundromat for oligarchs’ dodgy cash.

The judo black belt who claims martial arts saved him from a life of “hooliganism” on the streets had been plotting thuggery on an international scale. For him, the fall of the Berlin Wall was a “catastrophe” for Russia, to be reversed by redrawing the former USSR borders.

Boris Johnson is “confident” Putin will fail in his conquest of Ukraine. That’s when it gets tricky. In his twisted logic, Putin believes a world without Russia is a world not worth preserving.

Pariah status, crippling economic isolation and “failure” are seen as an existential threat that’ll make him desperate. A year ago, Putin lowered the bar on the use of nuclear weapons.

Maybe his new best mate, Xi Jinping in China, will be able to persuade him that a new world order with half the planet missing isn’t a good idea.

God help us all, as we pretend war planners used to say. It’s worked so far.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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