We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis. We are trying to figure out: What is Putin's off-ramp? Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself where he does not only lose face but significant power?
On Friday evening's Real Time, Bill Maher asked his panel of Chris Christie and journalists Chris Wallace and Katty Kay to respond to a question from an audience member about Biden's invocation of "Armageddon." Although a supporter of the President's Afghanistan policy, Kay wisely stated (as can be seen beginning at 6:45 of the video below)
I'm not sure the use of the word "Armageddon" is very helpful. I mean, Putin wants us to be afraid and you can- I mean, half of Europe is up in arms about him saying "Armageddon" because actually all that does is play in to Putin's desire to make us afraid. You can say there's a serious threat and there is a serious threat....
Historian Timothy Snyder, who believes Russian forces probably will eventually pull out of Ukraine, notes "Right now, though, we have a certain difficulty seeing how Ukraine gets to victory, even as the Ukrainians advance. This is because many of our imaginations are trapped by a single and rather unlikely variant of how the war ends: with a nuclear detonation."
Perhaps stuck in the 1960s-1970s, Biden painted a more worrisome scenario, seemingly unaware that even if Putin were to launch a nuclear weapon, the consequences would be less severe than they would have been during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1962, it was widely assumed that escalation would result in an exchange of strategic, rather than tactical, nuclear weapons, possibly resulting in the end of civilization. Moreover, the extent of development of tactical nuclear weapons by both the USA and the USSR was largely unknown during the period in which Joe Biden was emerging as a prominent public official, which probably informs his understanding of nuclear firepower.
By contrast, Katty Kay would maintain "Bill Burns, the director of the CIA who thank goodness used to be the ambassador to Moscow has made it very clear to the Russians that were they to launch any kind of tactical or small nuclear weapon...."
Also making sense (and it's hard to type those words) was Christie, the former terrible governor of New Jersey, failed presidential candidate, and (usually) Trump supporter. He remarks (beginning at 7:54)
when he says nuclear Armageddon, it's clear to me doesn't understand it because he's causing alarm in a way that is not productive- like, you know, what if you really think that, then go and try to fix it but don't give us some pronouncements, scare the crap out of everybody.
Following a comment by Maher and one (dead on) from Wallace, Christie continued
To me, the problem with him saying this stuff is your job is not to be a weatherman when you're President. "Oh, let me show you what the map looks like." It's to go and come with a solution. And to say "oh, yeah, we're close to nuclear Armageddon we've been since 1962." Now, genius, what are you going to do about it?
The former disastrous governor is still what he always has been- charismatic, gruff-talking, opportunistic, egotistical, and up Donald Trump's rear end, albeit not as far as Ted Cruz and some others.
Nonetheless, the former dreadful governor, though far too smart a retail politician to put it this way, recognizes the disconnect between Biden's rhetoric and his actions. If the President truly believes that the world may be on its way to obliteration, he needs to be doing far more than he is. His actions don't meet the moment- if the situation is as dire as he describes it.
Fortunately, as Snyder and almost everyone else believe, it's very unlikely that strategic nuclear weapons will start flying. That's very good. Having to defend Chris Christie, the hideous former governor of New Jersey, is not.