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Is Biden Policy Avoiding World War III?  Not Really

Is Biden Policy Avoiding World War III?  Not Really

As the war in Ukraine moves into its second year, there are those who credit President Biden with avoiding an escalation that would have led to a World War III by provoking Putin from launching nuclear weapons.

That is why the White House says Biden had not been all in terms of supplying the Ukraine military with the most advanced weapons at the moment of the invasion – or even as Putin’s military was surrounding Ukraine on three sides.  We should have kept American and NATO military participation as an option – a threat.  There should have been no restrictions on how Ukraine carried out the war – including counterattacking inside Russia.  And we should have supplied everything need to win the war – including maximum sanctions.  But that was not Biden’s policy.

I can see no circumstances that would have Russia deploying nuclear weapons.  That would be nothing less than national suicide for Mother Russia.  Even a limited use of tactical nuclear weapons would result in a massive response from the West that would bring the war to Moscow.

But even without the use of nuclear weapons, team Biden – and those soft on Putin and his dirty little war – argue that a more robust response from the United States, NATO, and other allies could have triggered World War III.  They say Biden has been trying to prevent an escalation beyond Ukraine.  

World War III sounds scary.  However, those who cower in fear about an expanded war seem to be living in the 1940s.  They conjure up a vision of a long-protracted ground war – or a nuclear Armageddon — with two evenly matched sides pounding each other into oblivion.  

In fact, in the early phases of World War II, it appeared that Hitler’s Germany had a decided advantage.  They had the most advanced and powerful military in the world.  That was proven by the ease with which the Germans took over both eastern and western Europe.

And … Germany had powerful allies.  The core of the Axis Alliance was composed of Germany, Italy and Japan which bonded in the Tripartite Pact. Five other nations later joined the Pact – Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Romania and Slovakia.  Other nations – such as Spain under dictator Francisco Franco — were supportive of Hitler.  The conquered nations also contributed to the military strength of the Axis.  In other words, the Axis had a lot of allies and a lot of military might.

Fast forward to today – and those propagating a fear of World War III.  

The only possible way Putin could theoretically escalate the conflict in Ukraine to a broader war would be to use nuclear weapons and/or attack a NATO nation.  He has already proven to the world that he presides over a less than impressive military.  He cannot win a one-on-one with Ukraine – and we are to believe that he will escalate the conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders.  

Who would be on his side?  Who would go into war in an alliance with the Madman of Moscow against the combined power of the West?

China has a very powerful military, but there is no way they would participate in an all-out war against the West.  Chinese President Xi Jinping has been very supportive of Putin’s war – but only verbally.  Xi will not even send Putin the military equipment he begs for.  North Korea has been filtering military equipment to Russia, but only in a limited way – and Kim Jong Un is not about to send his soldiers into a war with the West or invade South Korea.  Even Belarus – which Putin has under his thumb and has recently agreed to host Russian nuclear bombs – is not all in with Putin’s war.  President Alexander Lukashenko has a very large anti-Putin population.  He has allowed Putin to use Belarus as a staging area but has refused to deploy soldiers to support Russia’s invasion.  

That leaves Iran.  They are currently sending military drones to Russia, but I cannot imagine they would open up a World War III theater of conflict in the Middle East.  Who would they attack or invade?  Israel, Saudi Arabia, and most other Arab nations would welcome the opportunity to crush the regime in Tehran – not to mention the possibility of a civil war. The Iranian people have already expressed their disdain for the leaders in Tehran.

And what about South America?  Putin’s closest friends are limited to Venezuela and Cuba – and does anyone think they would mount a military attack on the United States?

In other words, no matter what Putin does, he cannot trigger a world war because his portion of the world will not participate.  That leaves Russia up against the most powerful military forces on earth – the United States, NATO, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Canada, Sweden, and others.  The military that cannot even take over Ukraine is not going to start a fight with the majority of world nations.

Putin has survived only because the West – mostly the United States– has refused to call his bluff.  Has refused to supply Ukraine with everything it needs to route the Russian army.  Under the current situation, Putin is safe as long as he does not launch nuclear weapons or expand his invasion into a NATO nation.  Do that, and the Kremlin is rubble — and he is history.

All that scary talk about a third World War is just that – scary talk.  It is the core of Putin’s strategy of intimidation.  The fact that Russian forces still occupy portions of Ukraine is testimony to the success of Putin’s strategy.

Had the United States and the Western democracies responded to Hitler in the same way we are responding to Putin, we may still be in the first 100 years of the Tausendjähriges Reich.

And just for the record … I am not a warmonger.  I hate war as much as anyone.  My family has paid the ultimate price of a dragged-out war.   Since the invasion started, I have called for hitting Putin with everything – sanctions, military equipment, and threats of more – not because I like war, but because I want it to end in victory as quickly as possible.  As this thing drags on, more people die, are injured, and displaced.  I see no compassion in allowing Putin’s dirty little war to drag on.  And as for World War III … fuhgeddaboudit.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. frank stetson

    “I can see no circumstances that would have Russia deploying nuclear weapons.”

    That’s literally impossible.

  2. larry Horist

    Frank Stetson … It is not physically impossible for Putin to launch nukes … but saying that I cannot foresee any circumstance that would have him do so (or be allowed to do so) is an assessment … not dismissed as “literally impossible” because my opinion could be correct. You seem to think he will use them.

    • f

      I understand, but when you said: “I can see no circumstances that would have Russia deploying nuclear weapons” I read that as: Larry can see no circumstances that would have Russia deploying nuclear weapons rather than: Larry “cannot foresee any circumstance that would have him do so (or be allowed to do so) is an assessment … not dismissed as “literally impossible.”

      As to your comment: “You seem to think he will use them,” that would be a misunderstanding in that I think I have been consistent in saying he has them, he has been deploying more during the war, he has threaten use, and —– and this is most important —- he MIGHT actually use them which would be great to avoid.

      Also, I have pointed out that Putin has developed and stockpiled over a thousand tactical nukes, these are located around the borders, on mobile trucks, and are the ones he is deploying in his new deployments. Tactical bombs are 10-100 times the size of our Hiroshima version but up to a hundred times smaller than our current ballistics which are 3,000 times stronger than the Hiroshima.

      We have 200 tactical bombs, most located on Russia’s borders. Russia has over 2,000, again mostly located on the borders, but hard to pinpoint the mobile launchers.

      Why does the US have only 200? Because they are useless. The concept of limited nuclear war only exists in idiots like Putin and Larry. Look at the sizing — IF you could drop something 3,000 times a tactical bomb, isn’t the tactical bomb rendered meaningless before you even build one? Why would Putin even pursue such a strategy, unless, like Larry, he actually thinks he might survive using them?

      And that’s the point. Putin is crazy, he’s built ones he thinks he might get away with in a pinch, and he believes we will not let the big ones fly if he does. That’s just nutty. Larry, all I can say is Biden’s way has worked so far. Would we like bigger, better, and sooner? You betcha. Would we like to avoid WWIII nuclear Armageddon? You betcha. Are we wimps? I am pretty sure Putin does not feel he is fighting a wimp.

      At first I was 100% with the Biden strategy, then as it dragged on, I too said: “fuck it, let’s put more pressure on — bring in the patriot’s, bring in the jets, rachet up the tech and let’s get er done. He did, albeit slower that I wanted, but in hindsight — it sure seems that what Biden has architected is WORKING? Is it not working, Larry?

      You propose we could have, should have, escalated the war faster, and bigger. You can not anticipate the reaction, but you have guessed. The reality is he has not used them after Biden, and the world, have acted as they have. You certainly know Biden’s results todate, but have not a clue what your results would have been.

      Unfortunately, IMO, we are at a point where there is no off-ramp for Putin. An exit ramp that’s a win for him looks improbable if not impossible. I think the only way for Russia to get out of this is to remove Putin. And where can he go? Certainly nowhere is the style he is accustomed to. And if he sees the end coming, what might he do before he leaves the world stage? When he sees the end coming, he sees he has no where good to go, and if he has time: what will he do? I think Biden is doing his best to avoid a tragic outcome and IMO nuclear bombs — whether tactical bombs at 10 to 100 times Hiroshima or bigger does not matter; they all will be world-changing IF we make that mistake.

      So far, Biden has not made any tragic mistakes; I say stay the course, support our President, and keep our boys at home — for now.

      • larry Horist

        f (Frank Stetson) … why the new nom de plume? You entire repetitious rant is based on your belief that (1) Putin will use nuclear weapons — even tactical weapons and (2) that any use of a nuclear bomb would result in a World War III that would be an all-out Armageddon. I respectfully disagree — and that does not make me an “Idiot” like Putin. Come on, man. More childish gratuitous insults — from the guy who claim to abhor them? Even behind an AKA screen name you cannot give up your hypocrisy.

        You ask if I think the Biden strategy is not working. Geez! Have your read (and comprehended) my commentaries on the subject. Of course, I do not believe the Biden strategy of too little/too late is working. It is prolonging the war at an enormous cost in lives and treasure. You accuse me of repeating, but then you do not seem to comprehend. I do not share you opinion that Biden unified NATO. Putin did that. Biden has been behind the curve with NATO, too. You should have pictures of Neville Chamberlain hanging in your home.

  3. Tom

    A minor correction Larry. At the beginning of WWII on Sept 1, 1939, the Soviet Union did support Hitler, but you left this out. Soviet Union invaded the eastern half of Poland while Hitler invaded the western half of Poland. It was not until Hitler turned on the Soviet Union with their Operation Barbarossa that the Soviet Union switched sides. Stalin had planned for this contingency.

    As far as Putin, I think he will remain in power but be much weakened domestically and internationally. He has in many ways become an outcast and his word means nothing. Not a good position to be in. As far as Russia’s military being weakened, its only the ground forces that have been weekended. He still has a very effective submarine force that can rival US. He still has a very effective propaganda ministry, espionage ministry, and can meddle in many world politics. He still has oligarchs that support him. Russia will remain a threat albeit it may need China as a crutch.

    I found Putin’s announcement last week over Soviet radio very interesting. He is now saying that the SMO in Ukraine has been a success and the troops will be home by the end of the year. He appears to be spreading more propaganda while building himself an Ukraine off ramp with the Russian people. And his propaganda training over the last fifteen years runs very deep in Russian minds. Eighty percent still believe everything that comes from his mouth. So the Russian people will continue to be a threat.

    We may never know if Biden’s strategy (even if it is a johnny come lately strategy) was effective or not in avoiding WWIII. If for no other reason than a negative is very hard to prove. As far as Putin and nukes go, it is back to Putin’s own story about trapping a rat when he was a kid and how the rat came out biting and being very aggressive. Only now, Putin is the trapped rat and he is coming out biting with nuclear threats. Will he operationalize those threats is anyone’s guess. But I do believe he has contemplated it. And I do believe he knows the costs and has determined that the threats are basically cost free. So I expect the threats to continue. Strategically ignoring them while providing Ukraine jets and other armaments is probably the best course of action, especially since the original reason for not doing this was fear of Putin succeeding and capturing our most hitech weapons. This is now not the case. So as Admiral Farragut said, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Lets get it over with, including taking back Crimea, and start the rebuilding using those frozen Russian assets that he has spread all over the world. It is estimated that it will cost $400 B to rebuild Ukraine. Let the war crimes trials begin. And lets blast the Russian airwaves with the truth for every Russian to hear. Lets win the propaganda war!

    I was disappointed as many were that the sanctions were not as deep as could have been, especially in the banking systems. It gave Putin a lifeline. China also gave Putin a lifeline so we need to buy less from China and bring production home! Last year we purchased a record amount from China, somewhere north of $500 B. I do not think Biden is the one to lead this effort because he appears to be compromised according to the bank records sent to the Fed by China. And this is why China sent the records! If we end this war soon, then sanctions do not need to go deeper, and, Biden’s strategy will be proven as having been effective. WWI 6 million died. WWII 60 million died. WWIII very likely 600 million would die. There is a mathematical relationship between the increased sophistication of weapons and the number of recorded deaths. I doubt that Biden’s hesitancy would have produced this many deaths. But again, negatives are impossible to prove.

    • larry Horist

      Tom … Good observation about Russia’s early involvement. It further establishes my point that unlike Putin, Hitler had a lot of support internationally. Ergo, a world war. I am not sure that there is another county on earth that will join Putin if he were to provoke a military response from NATO and/or the United States.

  4. Mark loftus

    Larry, I would not believe the corporate media on this. Other reports say that Ukraine is being slaughtered by the Russia. The warmongers won’t go to the table. Don’t forget, the USA helped set this up i 2014 when our state dept, Victoria Nudelman, helped take out the pro Russian leader of Ukraine – Yanukovich in a color revolution, after that the violence against Russian speaking Ukranians started. The USA should not be involved in removing foreign leaders, namely our CIA. There are other forces who hate Christians behind this, like Soros and other oligarchs. Ukraine is being used to get to Russia, and its now down to 19 million people. It was at one time close to 70 million people, this war is not helping Ukraine. Only the oligarchs are gaining. I know Putin is mixed on us Catholics, but I see no reason to hate him like the socialists and some democrats. Putin has done a lot in favor of Christianity in Russia, and he won’t play LGBTQ either… I agree with you on so many issues, but not this one, I just don’t see Russia as the bad guy any more than Zelensky or what our deep state did.
    Best Wishes, Mark Loftus, RIncon, GA

  5. Mike f

    Larry, Must be a slow news period (or else you just needed the cash) because you have written this post before (a month or two ago?) with only a few wording tweaks (I think perhaps you were not as focused on WW111 in the earlier post, but the subject was the same). So, I will provide the same commentary I did before (just to make sure the readers keep in mind the bottom line). Had this war taken place, and had your candidate been president, it is doubtful that there would have been any assistance to Ukraine. Trump would not have brought the NATO powers together to oppose Russia, and he certainly would not have done anything to oppose his good buddy Vlad (I have no reason to doubt what Putin tells me…). And some of the biggest mouths in the Republican Party are against the war (of course, because Biden is supporting Ukraine and they will go all in to oppose Biden-even if it defies logic). So, while I personally would prefer more support for Ukraine, I am so glad that we have Biden in charge, who understands what is at stake here, rather than an idiot who makes all his decisions based on potential personal gains…

  6. Joseph S. Bruder

    Larry seems to be criticising President Biden, but it was Biden’s response that literally stopped Putin in his tracks. Biden brought the NATO allies together, spearheaded all the sanctions, and has contributed heavily (both dollars and military hardware) to the Ukrainian resistance. Never mind the naysayers that wanted everything all at once, Biden listens to his advisors and has sent what the Ukrainians can use immediately and put plans in process for the rest. And he’s managed to do it without provoking Putin or pulling us into active fighting.

    Trump had NATO members arguing with each other over money, was praising the dictators among their ranks (as well as Putin himself), gave Putin a place on the world stage, was publicly speaking about withdrawing from NATO, and would most certainly have given Ukraine to Putin.

    Even now, the Russians have blown the dam that supplied cooling water to the nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia, and mined the cooling apparatus for the plant. That’s a pretty clear nuclear threat, and Congress has introduced a bipartisan resolution to consider it an attack on NATO members if Putin actually blows up the nuclear plant. Tactical nukes or a nuclear plant disaster would contaminate large parts of Europe (not to mention Russia itself).

    Nobody claims that WW3 has to involve China, or Iran or any other Russian supporters. If Putin feels threatened enough to send out even one functioning nuclear weapon, the international response and the consequences will be global. If nuclear missiles are flying, the other nuclear powers may feel they need to defend themselves or proactively attack their perceived enemies while they can. Biden is right to move cautiously when the destruction of millions or billions of lives hangs in the balance.

    Putin is crazy – Biden is dealing with it. Trump would be happy to hand Ukraine and even all of Europe to Putin, ss long as he personally gets something out of it – and Putin still has enough resources to offer a billion dollars or two (which seems to be the going price for Trump”s betrayal of his country). We can thank our lucky stars that we have Biden’s steady hand on the wheel of both our economy and our defense policy.

    • larry Horist

      Joseph S Bruder … I was commenting on BIDEN policies, which have nothing to do with Trump. But it seems meaningless whataboutism is all you have to offer. You say we are lucking to have Biden. Should I assume that you are not among the 60 to 70 percent of Democrats who do not want him to run again? At least we agree that Putin is crazy.