It is a scary thought that NATO and Russia are so close to a conflagration that could grow into nothing less than a World War. This is not mere fear mongering. It is indeed true that if the Russian invasion of Ukraine were to indeed cross the border into Poland, the NATO agreement would necessitate a response to make sure Russia stays out of Europe.
It is scary to think how many times in the 20th century, a World War was averted. Soon after the end of World War I, General Douglas McArthur argued that America was already at war with China and that it better accept that reality sooner than later if it wanted to minimize casualties. McArthur was a legendary General with tremendous tactical and long-term vision. But his decision to buck the orders of President Truman led to his dismissal. At the time, it was a very controversial move by Truman, but it seems to have been judged by most historians as a proper move.
The same can be said about John F. Kennedy’s measured response to Russia’s placement of missiles in Cuba. Most of the military brass of the USA supported an all out strike on Cuba in order to destroy the threat in a matter of hours. JFK understood that Russia could very well counter with a bombing attack of West Germany, and in a matter of days, World War III would be upon us as events tend to cascade to the more chaotic and not the more orderly.
There is no question that the willingness to bomb and show force are necessary deterrents to aggressors. However, that does not mean that aggression should always be countered with aggression. Had the “mistaken bombing” been quickly countered by a NATO strike of Russia, who knows how it could have snowballed.