May 7, 2022

The United States has committed numerous Acts of War against Russia this year.  This is not a value judgment.  I make no claim here about whether the United States has acted wisely, or has acted with justification.  I simply note it.  And the world may now be tumbling into an interlocking cycle of escalation beyond control and foreseeable consequences, just as it did in 1914.

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That the United States has committed Acts of War in no way justifies Russia’s actions; neither is it to say therefore that World War III and nuclear war have become inevitable, though Russian state media are openly speculating about the real risk of these.  Countries often commit Acts of War against other countries, and no war breaks out when the offended party chooses for whatever reason not to respond.  But they can respond, and that is the point here.

Iran committed an Act of War when it seized the 52 embassy hostages during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.  This was an especially grievous and barbaric Act of War, because embassy officials are supposed to be sacrosanct.  Even Nazi Germany and the USSR understood and respected that in 1941 when Germany attacked the USSR; despite the attack and the state of war, both sides dutifully and peacefully exchanged their respective embassy staffs.  In this sense, Iran was even more barbaric than those two, and the United States would have been within its rights to seek a Declaration of War, though chose not to.

The United States committed an Act of War against Mexico with Operation Fast & Furious.  The United States sent weapons to drug cartels who have established quasi-independent narco sub-states inside Mexico, in rebellion against the central government in Mexico City.  Mexico would have been within its rights to declare war on the United States for this breach of its sovereignty, though it chose not to.

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The American Acts of War against Russia come in two flavors: 1) economic sanctions, and 2) transfer of weapons and intelligence to a belligerent with whom Russia is at war.

The history of the lead-up to World War II shows both of these at work.

Economic Acts of War

 Japan attacked the United States in 1941 despite the fact that America had never fired a shot at Japan, had never invaded any Japanese-held territory, and had never armed anybody Japan was fighting.

Japan attacked the United States purely for economic reasons.  It attacked in response to American economic sanctions against Japan, which in turn were in response to Japan’s ongoing war in China.  America had embargoed exports of oil, steel, and rubber to Japan, all vital war materials.  To assure its continued access to these things, Japan felt it was forced to attack Southeast Asia and various islands in the Indo-Pacific Oceans.  Knowing that this would draw the United States into war, Japan decided on pre-emptive attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippine Islands, and so began America’s participation in World War II.

Japan regard economic sanctions as Acts of War, and acted accordingly.