As grave of a threat as deliberate war is, unintended escalation from miscommunication and misperception can be as bad. Biden is the perfect vessel for such risks.
With the U.S.’s escalatory actions — are dangerous beyond what can be described. As an Australian news outlet reported on Sunday, “Russia has launched a missile strike near Poland in what appears to be a deadly warning to the United States.” The accompanying video (see lead photo above) shows at least three long-range cruise missiles, launched from a Russian submarine in the Black Sea, precisely striking targets in western Ukraine, near to where Biden was in Poland. That missile launch, the outlet reasonably concluded, “appears to be a deadly warning to the United States.”
Whatever else is true, the U.S. and Russia are now in waters uncharted since the Cuban missile crisis. Even the savage US/USSR proxy wars of the 1980s in Latin America and Afghanistan did not entail these sorts of rapidly escalating threats. A Russian president who, validly or not, feels threatened by NATO expansion in the region and driven by questions of his legacy, on the other side of a U.S. president with a long record of hawkishness and war fever which is now hobbled by the carelessness and infirmities of old age, is a remarkably volatile combination. As former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis put it on Saturday: “A U.S. President who, during an atrocious war, does not mean what he says on matters of War and Peace, and must be corrected by his hyperventilating staff, is a clear and present danger to all.”