Open Letter Against Reckless Nuclear Escalation and Use

There’s been ample interest in the probability that the Ukraine conflict escalates into a nuclear way, ranging from predictions on Metaculus, Manifold and Polymarket to estimates by David Orr, myself and others. Aside from estimating this probability, what can we do to reduce it?

Current discourse is often framed as if there were only two options:

  1. Be forceful

  2. Deescalate by appeasement, effectively capitulating to nuclear blackmail

This is misleading, because there’s more than one way to stand strong (including going on the offense militarily): (a) pursuing or (b) eschewing escalation that has negligible military value. Suppose a bully punches you. If you choose to stand strong, I’d encourage you not to combine it with spitting in his face, poking fun of his appearance and goading him to pull out that gun you see he has holstered. Unfortunately, the Ukraine conflict has seen many instances of analogous escalation without significant military benefit, and arguably not only from one side. Stigmatizing such reckless behavior can in my opinion reduce the risk of nuclear war without any appeasement or concessions. I’m therefore inviting you to join me and many others as a signatory on an open letter that aims both to de-normalize nuclear threats and to re-mainstream non-appeasing de-escalation strategies that reduce the risk of nuclear war without giving into blackmail.

Would you like to join as a signatory? This would be wonderful, because it would help reduce the probability of the greatest catastrophe in human history. To read and potentially sign the open letter, please click here.