Whether or not it actually happened, the story of Babe Ruth’s famous “called shot” in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series has become one of the great legends of baseball’s Golden Age.

The Chicago Cubs fans in Wrigley Field had been relentlessly hectoring the renowned Yankee slugger and the cat-calls and insults intensified as he came to bat in the fifth inning with the score tied 4-4, especially after he took a first strike. At that point, the Bambino raised his hand, pointed to the bleachers, then hit the next pitch as a towering home run to deep center field, the same spot he had just indicated. Or at least so goes the legend. Details aside, that homer helped the Yankees win the game, eventually leading to their 4-0 sweep of the entire series, and Ruth later included the tale as a centerpiece of his 1948 autobiography.

Calling your shot before you take it seems a very effective means of intimidating your opponents by demonstrating your effortless superiority. So perhaps Russian President Vladimir Putin should consider doing something similar in his current confrontation with NATO over the Ukraine war.

As everyone knows, the Western mainstream media has spent more than two years demonizing Russia and its president following the February 2022 outbreak of the Ukraine war, with Putin having become the most reviled world leader since Adolf Hitler more than three generations ago.

And although Russia’s military attack only came after many years of the most extreme military and political provocations by America and its NATO allies, our astonishingly dishonest media outlets have uniformly plastered the word “unprovoked” on all their accounts of the conflict.

Prof. John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago ranks as one of our most distinguished political scientists and his 2016 lecture on those Western provocations and the major risks of a future war has now been viewed some 29 million times on YouTube, quite possibly more than any other academic lecture in the history of the Internet.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University spent decades as an important economic advisor to Russia, Ukraine, and other countries in the region, making him a direct eyewitness to many of the important developments responsible for the conflict. He recently provided his first-hand account in a two-and-a-half hour interview with Tucker Carlson.

The Tweet containing that interview has already been viewed more than 6 million times and I would highly recommend watching the entire segment, either on that platform or on YouTube:

Despite their enormous scholarly credentials and their deep knowledge of the issues, both these leading academics have been almost completely banned from our rabidly anti-Russian mainstream media outlets. In past generations they would have quickly disappeared from the public discussion, preventing any concerned citizens here or elsewhere from getting both sides of the story.

But fortunately, the growth of the Internet and its video platforms have now begun to partially level the skewed playing field, reducing the power of the media gatekeepers to prevent the dissemination of important information.

As an example, over the last year or two both these individuals have become regular weekly interview guests on the popular podcast channel of Judge Andrew Napolitano, reaching an audience easily comparable to that of various cable news shows on network television.

They have been joined by numerous other experts and analysts, equally blacklisted by mainstream outlets. These latter individuals include Ray McGovern, who spent 27 years as a leading CIA analyst, rising to become head of the Soviet policy group and serving as the morning intelligence briefer for a half-dozen American presidents. Col. Douglas Macgregor has been an influential military analyst and an advisor to our Secretary of Defense, while Col. Larry Wilkinson was the long-time chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Dr. Philip Giraldi, Larry Johnson, and Scott Ritter are experienced former CIA officers and military experts, Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat and senior MI6 officer, while Max Blumenthal and Aaron Maté are young Jewish progressives who have published award-winning journalism on the Middle East conflict. Despite having such a wide variety of different backgrounds and ideological orientations, all these individuals generally find themselves in strong agreement on the extremely dangerous nature of the current NATO confrontation with Russia over Ukraine.

During the last week or two, their concerns reached new heights as Ukrainian drones attacked and damaged several of Russia’s early warning radar installations intended to detect incoming nuclear missiles. These attacks may have seriously degraded Moscow’s ability to spot an American first-strike, possibly lowering that country’s own threshold for triggering a nuclear response, an exceptionally dangerous and destabilizing situation. A recent Mike Whitney column discussed these important developments:

Prof. Sachs is an extremely level-headed academic, who has spent his long career working closely with top political figures in America and across the rest of the world. But in his Thursday interview, he sounded the alarm, declaring the unprecedented danger from this attempt to blind Russia to a potential nuclear first strike.

He felt these were acts of madness by Western governments that had raised the threat of nuclear war to the highest level since the end of World War II, but our ignorant and oblivious leaders seemed entirely unaware of the perilous nature of this situation.

Then late last week, Politico reported that President Joseph Biden had secretly agreed to allow the missiles we were providing Ukraine to be used in deep strikes against Russian territory, multiplying these dangers.

It also appears likely that any actual Ukrainian involvement in use of these advanced missile systems is relatively minimal, with their control and targeting remaining in the hands of American or other NATO personnel. Another Mike Whitney column a couple of days ago usefully summarized these crucial facts:

  • The long-range precision weapons (missiles) are provided by NATO countries
  • The long-range precision weapons are manned by experts or contractors from the country of origin
  • The long-range precision weapons must be linked to space reconnaissance data provide by the US or NATO
  • The targets in Russia are also provided by space reconnaissance data provide by the US or NATO

Thus, NATO is on the verge of firing a barrage of advanced missiles deep into Russian territory, an obvious act of war against a country possessing an arsenal of some six thousand strategic nuclear warheads, a decision of extraordinary recklessness. The leaders of some NATO members have even explicitly declared that they believe that Russia must be destroyed, exceptionally provocative public statements.

Unlike his Western counterparts, President Putin certainly recognizes the extreme gravity of this situation and Whitney quoted the threatening remarks he made at a press conference in Tashkent:

So, these officials from NATO countries, especially the ones based in Europe, particularly in small European countries, should be fully aware of what is at stake. They should keep in mind that theirs are small and densely populated countries, which is a factor to reckon with before they start talking about striking deep into the Russian territory. It is a serious matter and, without a doubt, we are watching this very carefully.

The Russians have also expressed considerable alarm that Ukrainian forces may soon be bolstered by the addition of Western F-16s. Those aircraft are nuclear-weapons capable, and the Russians have indicated that they may be forced to assume that they are so armed.

Thus, both America and its NATO vassals seem to be sleepwalking into a potential Third World War fought with strategic nuclear weapons. This recalls the extreme hubris of their European political predecessors more than a century ago who led their continent into the First World War.

The main focus of Whitney’s most recent column was to argue that President Putin needed to take some sufficiently strong public steps to awaken the Western leaders from their slumber and force them to recognize the terrible dangers that they and the rest of the world faced, perhaps causing them to abandon their extremely dangerous and reckless behavior.

Put in baseball terms, he believed that Russia needed to throw the sort of “brushback pitch” intended to intimidate a batter.

This suggestion seems a very reasonable one. So the issue now becomes what sort of Russian action would be most advisable.

NATO troops may soon be firing NATO missiles guided by NATO reconnaissance data against military targets deep within Russia so there remains only the thinnest of Ukrainian fig-leafs to camouflage what is actually taking place. Hence the Russians should take forceful steps to convince NATO that such actions are totally unacceptable and must be stopped.

However, any such Russian military response should be carefully calibrated to thread the needle, neither being so mild that it fails to bring American and NATO leaders to their senses nor so severe that it risks triggering a direct, full-scale war with NATO, with such a war probably being the intended goal of those provocations.

If such deep strikes into Russia take place, the Russians could target the firing locations in Ukraine with retaliatory missile attacks, perhaps killing some of the NATO servicemen responsible, professionals who had been “sheep dipped” and deployed there under the guise of being independent contractors or trainers.

However, Russia has already done this in the past, and there are credible claims that substantial numbers of such NATO personnel have already died in Ukraine with no evidence that such losses had deterred escalating NATO provocations.

The same problem applies if Russia merely intensified its bombardment of Ukrainian command and control facilities or critical infrastructure. Both America and NATO political leaders seem to have ignored such Russian responses in the past and would probably continue to do so.

Recognizing this problem, the Russians have begun raising the temperature. A couple of weeks ago, Russia publicized an important training drill for their potential use of tactical nuclear weapons and this produced a great deal of coverage in the global media.

But it seemed to have had little impact upon Western leaders, who are probably very skeptical that the Russians would actually break the seven-decade-long nuclear taboo by resorting to first use of such destructive weapons. So any Russian use seems unlikely and if it did occur, there might be a serious risk of nuclear escalation. Therefore, I think that any Russian threats or actual use of battlefield nuclear weapons would be very ill-advised.

But I think that an even stronger reason for the Russians to avoid focusing on their nuclear arsenal is that their superiority is actually considerably greater on the conventional level. Over the last few years, the Russians have deployed a full suite of powerful hypersonic missiles, an important weapons system that the Americans have so far been unable to match.

From everything I’ve read, these hypersonic delivery systems are almost unstoppable by any existing American or NATO defenses, which currently gives the Russians escalation-dominance on the conventional level. So the question is how the Russians can best exploit this existing advantage and force NATO to back down without risking a wider war.

During the last two years, anti-shipping missiles fired from Ukraine but presumably supplied and guided by NATO forces have inflicted very serious losses upon Russia’s Black Sea fleet, sinking or severely damaging a number of its major vessels. But turnabout is fair play and America’s geopolitical and military power is far more heavily dependent upon its own naval forces.

Most analysts believe that our carrier fleet would be sitting ducks for Russian missiles, especially hypersonic ones. The loss of one or more of our carriers would have devastating impact upon American military credibility, and if taken seriously, Russian threats along such lines might force American leaders to change their Ukraine policy.

But the arrogant Americans may stubbornly believe that their anti-missile defenses are capable of handling such a threat, while any successful attack against an American carrier battle-group might easily kill many thousands of Americans, leading to all-out war. So this should remain a last option.

The Russians have given strong hints that if their own bases deep inside Russia are attacked by NATO missiles, they might very well retaliate against NATO military installations in countries such as Poland. But any such attacks, especially if they involved heavy casualties, might once again trigger a full-scale NATO war with Russia under Article Five of the NATO Charter.

Indeed, this is probably the exact goal of many Ukrainian and NATO leaders who have realized that the current war is lost but believe they can still achieve success by broadening it into a much wider conflict. So by taking such action, Russia might be falling into a NATO trap.

Since most of these other options seem so unsatisfactory, I think the best solution to this dilemma is for the Russians to take a page from the playbook of their Iranian allies.

A few weeks ago, the Israelis violated international law by launching an unprecedented bombing attack against an Iranian embassy building in Damascus, killing several top Iranian generals. This was merely the latest in a long series of such Israeli assassinations obviously intended to provoke the sort of heavy Iranian military response that could be used to draw in America, leading to a wider regional war and perhaps resulting in Iran’s destruction.

However, the Iranians shrewdly refused to take the bait and instead retaliated by bombarding very heavily-defended Israeli military bases with a huge salvo of some 300 drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles, but first providing several days of advance warning. Although the resulting full mobilization of American, British, and Israeli air defenses destroyed the overwhelming majority of the attacking units, quite a number still got through and inflicted serious damage on the installations, but without killing a single Israeli serviceman.

This Iranian attack had been skewed towards their older systems and only represented one or two percent of the country’s enormous arsenal. Therefore, it proved that even under the best of circumstances, Israel was entirely vulnerable to Iranian military retaliation.

This demonstrated that Iran had achieved conventional escalation-dominance and military superiority over Israel, so the latter responded with only the most feeble and face-saving pinprick retaliation. Alastair Crooke described the enormous impact these developments had upon the Middle East strategic landscape:

Now suppose that NATO missiles based in Ukraine struck deep within Russia against important military targets, perhaps inflicting considerable casualties or loss of important equipment. The Russian government could publicly declare that since those missiles had been supplied, aimed, and controlled by NATO personnel, NATO had obviously become a co-belligerent and they would directly retaliate against that organization.

They could then announce that such retaliation would take the form of a hypersonic missile strike destroying the NATO headquarters building in Brussels, Belgium, with the attack scheduled for 12 Noon in two days’ time. That sort of advance warning would attract enormous international media coverage while allowing NATO plenty of time to fully evacuate that building and those nearby and also deploy a large number of its best anti-missile systems to defend the facility.

Therefore, assuming that the multi-missile strike still succeeded in totally leveling the NATO HQ, the result would be few if any human casualties and a simultaneous demonstration that Russian hypersonics were unstoppable by any NATO defenses.

NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium


The Russians could then announce that their next retaliatory strikes would sink several of our aircraft carriers, a warning that American military leaders would now be forced to take very seriously.

Under such circumstances, both the political leaders and electorates of the West might draw some important conclusions from that very high-profile military demonstration. If despite such considerable advance warning, NATO still proved completely unable to defend its own headquarters from total destruction in a Russian attack, the perceived value of that military alliance would crumble, perhaps causing it to dissolve, as should have happened after the end of the Cold War more than thirty years ago.

It would also be difficult for Western media outlets to continue demonizing a Russian government that had gone to such great lengths to minimize any human casualties, while the extreme effectiveness of Russian hypersonics would have been proven by the wreckage and craters suddenly appearing in the heart of Brussels. Taken together, this would constitute a velvet glove on an iron fist.

Many Americans might ask themselves why they were annually spending a trillion dollars on their military if our defense contractors were unable to produce hypersonic weapons or to successfully defend against those produced by the Russians.

And American political and military leaders would probably recognize that if despite such advance warning they were unable to defend their own NATO headquarters from destruction, our aircraft carriers would have little hope of surviving a Russian attack.

Our country’s global power-projection relies very heavily upon these carriers, whose military credibility supports our inflated US dollar. If several of those carriers were easily sunk, that credibility would be lost, probably causing a collapse in the dollar. Our ruling political regime might collapse along with it, much like the Japanese victory in 1905 had triggered a revolution in Czarist Russia.

More than three decades ago, the mighty Soviet Union crumbled and dissolved with almost no bloodshed. Under the right circumstances, I think that the Russian destruction of the NATO headquarters building might lead to an equally bloodless and long overdue dissolution of that military alliance.

Finally, on a somewhat different matter, tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, in which hundreds or even thousands of peaceful pro-democracy student protests were supposedly slaughtered by Chinese troops, a watershed event in China’s relations with the West. Last month I published an article pointing that the alleged massacre had almost certainly never happened and was merely a hoax long maintained by the Western media:

Given our sharp current conflict with China, it will be interesting to see how the media covers that story. Several days ago, the Wall Street Journal already began running articles in commemoration, with their content and tone indicated by this lead sentence in one of them:

On its 35th anniversary, the 1989 massacre of unarmed protestors in Tiananmen Square remains such a source of embarrassment to the Chinese government that public acknowledgement of the event still faces automatic censorship.

I wonder how long our media will continue to maintain this historical fraud.



By Ron Unz

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Republished by The 21st Century

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of



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