Vittert: Nuclear war is serious. Biden needs to be clear

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation) — This is when it matters. President Joe Biden issued a stark warning last night.

“(Russian President Vladimir Putin is) not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons. … I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily (use) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon,” Biden said Thursday.

He went on to say it’s more dangerous now than at any time since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Inflation, gas prices, transgender bathrooms, Black Lives Matter, legalizing pot, canceling student loans, the chip shortage, supply chain issues … quite literally nothing else matters if we are on the brink of nuclear war.

This is what matters, yet the administration can’t seem to get on the same page.

Contrast what the president said last night with his spokeswoman, the State Department spokeswoman and his defense secretary.

“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own nuclear posture,” said White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.

“Nor do we have indications they are preparing to use them,” said the State Department spokeswoman.

“I don’t see anything right now that would lead me to believe (Putin) has made such a decision (on nukes),” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said.

The last one is a little interesting, since Austin would authenticate any decision to launch America’s nuclear weapons.

FILE – This photo, taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Feb. 19, 2022, shows a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile being launched from an airfield during military drills. With his room for maneuver narrowing quickly amid Russian military defeats in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signaled that he could resort to nuclear weapons to protect the Russian gains in Ukraine — the harrowing rhetoric that shattered a mantra of stability he has repeated throughout his 22-year rule. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)

Again, which is it? Are we nearing Armageddon or not? Was President Biden showing off for DNC donors or finally saying the quiet part out loud?

Today he ignored reporters asking to clear things up and jogged to Marine One. He then headed out to events celebrating the Inflation Reduction Act.

Again, are we nearing Armageddon or not?

We’ve been hard on the administration over messaging. On high gas prices, his press secretary says he’s only responsible when they go down. His energy secretary says buy a $60,000 electric car and you won’t have to worry. Others in the administration hint rising gas prices might be a good thing because people will transition to green energy.

Fine, who cares. That’s politics.

Vladimir Putin and his cronies watch every word President Biden and the administration say.

It’s Putin’s 70th birthday, by the way, and he’s reportedly spending it in a nuclear bunker. Russia’s nuclear arsenal is at the ready too.

Their largest submarine, the largest nuclear submarine ever made, was put to sea a few days ago and hasn’t been seen since.

Our ally, the president of Ukraine, just asked the United States to bomb Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

‘What should NATO do? Make it impossible for Russia to use nuclear weapons?” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. “We need pre-emptive strikes so that (the Russians) know what will happen to them if they use them.”

Well, that’s kind of crazy. No wonder the Russians are a little frisky.

And the Russians read American news stories. The federal government just bought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of radiation sickness drugs.

Ukrainian servicemen drive a tank on the way to Siversk, Donetsk Region, Ukraine, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Inna Varenytsia)

And what does the president do? He talks about Armageddon at a fundraiser and then jogs off to promote his domestic agenda.

To be fair, this could be double underwater chess. Remember, former Ambassador John Bolton, a Republican and no fan of Biden, said the president needed to be clear with Putin?

“We should say publicly, that if Putin did authorize the use of a nuclear weapon, he would be signing his own suicide note,” Bolton said.

And, in a way, Mr. Biden said just that yesterday. A veiled warning perhaps to Russian military commanders: The use of a nuclear weapon on Ukraine would bring a U.S. response. That’s significant.

We could believe that and even give Mr. Biden the benefit of the doubt. If today the White House said the president’s words speak for themselves and left it there. But instead, the White House scrambled to clarify today.

From the usually left-leaning Politico: “Clean up on aisle Biden.” Their words, not ours.

“After President Joe Biden’s nuclear “Armageddon” comments rocked the world Thursday, a White House official told Semafor’s Morgan Chalfant today that they weren’t driven by any new assessment of the situation in Ukraine/Russia.”

So, we have been near Armageddon for how long? Weeks? Months? Who knows? They won’t tell us.
It’s a far cry from President Kennedy 60 years ago almost to the day. It was the Cuban Missile Crisis. He made things crystal clear.

Back then, like it or not, Nikita Khrushchev knew exactly where America stood. Vladimir Putin has no idea where America stands because he’s heard five different messages this week alone.

That’s fine in domestic politics. But this is nuclear war, this is when it really matters.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

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