Russia Firing Missiles Is Bad. Russia Firing Missiles and Hitting Poland Is Worse.

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When German expatriate rocket scientist Werner von Braun released his autobiography, I Reach For The Stars, comedian Mort Sahl said that the book’s title should have included the phrase “…But Sometimes I Hit London.” (It was such a legendary bit of snark that President Jed quoted in on an episode of The West Wing.)

The threat of an accidental missile strike became more terribly obvious as the atomic age came upon us. The threat was fictionalized in movies like Fail Safe and The Bedford Incident, and it landed in our actual living rooms during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On Tuesday, the question was reopened in a perilous way. From the AP:

It was Russia’s biggest barrage yet, and some of the missiles crossed into Poland, where two people were killed, according to a U.S. official. It marked the first time in the war that Russian weapons have come down on a NATO country[…]Polish media reported that two people died Tuesday afternoon after a projectile struck an area where grain was drying in Przewodów, a Polish village near the border with Ukraine.

Assuming that the anonymous U.S. intelligence official to whom this report is sourced is being genuinely forthcoming, this could be a big step toward the edge of something extremely unfunny. (It is worth noting that a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council told NBC News, "We cannot confirm the reports or any of the details at this time." And the Russian Ministry of Defense called the reports of a missile strike "a deliberate provocation")

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If it was a Russian missile, it’s possible this was accidental, or the consequence of military incompetence—which is not out of the question when it comes to the Russian military. But if the Putin government has decided to treat Poland the way that the Nixon government treated, say, Cambodia, that’s an entirely different kettle of borscht. (That this strike also took out all the electrical power in Moldova is another bit of evidence that suggests this may not have been some missile commander who’d abused his vodka ration at lunch.) As noted above, Poland is a NATO member, which entails certain defense obligations that have never been considered optional.

“We’re working, will restore everything. We will survive everything,” the president vowed. His energy minister said the attack was “the most massive” bombardment of power facilities in the nearly 9-month-old Russian invasion, striking both power generation and transmission systems. The minister, Herman Haluschenko, described the missile strikes as “another attempt at terrorist revenge” after military and diplomatic setbacks for the Kremlin. He accused Russia of “trying to cause maximum damage to our energy system on the eve of winter.”

It is possible, I suppose, that Putin could want a general war in the region, or is making a leverage play aimed at NATO, to force the U.S. and the rest of the alliance into a choice between reneging on their treaty organization or engaging in a general war. But for the moment, if it was a Russian missile, I’m pinning my hopes on the drunk general in the bunker.

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At least when the North Koreans fire missiles into the ocean, they hit the ocean they’re aiming at.

From: Esquire US

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About The Author
Charles P. Pierce
Charles P. Pierce, lead for Esquire Politics US, has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.
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