Engel noted Monday that a massive Russian convoy was in a position to be destroyed by the U.S. or NATO and said that direct involvement against Russia would risk “everything,” meaning a nuclear war.
However, in the next sentence, he said, “Does the West watch in silence as it rolls?”
Perhaps the biggest risk-calculation/moral dilemma of the war so far. A massive Russian convoy is abt 30 miles from Kyiv. The US/NATO could likely destroy it. But that would be direct involvement against Russia and risk, everything. Does the West watch in silence as it rolls?
— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) February 28, 2022
But as Reason.com noted, “the U.S. cannot attack Russia because Congress has yet to declare war on the country. And make no mistake, a direct attack on Russian forces by either the U.S. or NATO would be an act of war” and dramatically increase the risk of nuclear warfare.
Many Twitter users were shocked that Engel seemed almost eager to get his war on and also tried to remind him: Be careful what you wish for.
This is an NBC News US senior correspondent near-demanding that nuclear powers enter a hot war. It is always incredible to witness how so many American reporters become champions for US militarism, without a shred of concern for the human life they purport to care about. https://t.co/VBqHtOY5Sd
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) February 28, 2022
This is NBC's chief foreign policy correspondent, advocating for, uh, nuclear war. How is this journalism? This is utter madness. https://t.co/RE7Mra11m1
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) February 28, 2022
A major network's chief corresp is asking this
Since USSR got nukes in 1950s, US policy under *every* prez has been not to fight USSR/RUS directly *except* (a) w/in NATO or (b) Western hemis—Cuban Missile Crisis
“Watch in silence” = Hungary 1956, Czech 1968, Berlin many times https://t.co/6fUocApeTq
— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) February 28, 2022
The way you tweet about whether the US and NATO should engage in a full-on war against a nuclear-armed super power is shockingly glib. It's not as simple as "watch in silence as it rolls" or not. The stakes are risking nuclear annihilation.
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 28, 2022
1) No one is watching in silence, the West has done almost everything Ukraine has asked of it, and 2) you're asking for world war and nuclear standoff. Hopefully no one at US/NATO is taking that even remotely seriously. https://t.co/H652HRZ8KE
— Markos Moulitsas (@markos) February 28, 2022
Richard Engel: So is Biden gonna start WW3 or what here?
Nice framing. False binary. Putin couldn't script it better. Very dramatic. https://t.co/S3J5X82Hkn
— Grant Stern is boosted! (@grantstern) February 28, 2022
A long time ago I wrote something arguing that the Kantian idea of "fiat justicia, ruat caelum" wasn't entirely coherent when it comes to literally world-ending choices because the moral project of improving the world requires that there be a world left to improve https://t.co/c9erRywXtg
— Quinta Jurecic (@qjurecic) February 28, 2022
Remember that in Richard Engel's book "War Journal" he said that before the invasion of Iraq he knew it "was a land where careers were going to be made" and that being there for war was his "big break" https://t.co/ik5UA8sBvB
— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) February 28, 2022
should nato blow up a bunch of russian military personnel? i am very smart. https://t.co/WAvlM5ThGa
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) February 28, 2022
Some people offered advice to Engel in hopes he’d rethink the point he was making in his tweet.
i dunno if i was a chief foreign correspondent i would not glibly wonder why one nuclear power isn't carpet bombing another nuclear power's forces https://t.co/O1dkxPUfDw
— Edward Ongweso Jr (@bigblackjacobin) February 28, 2022
if you want a war so badly, go enlist https://t.co/1Q6uJ3GSHV
— Sarah Jones (@onesarahjones) February 28, 2022
Pro tip: do not tweet questions like this until you've given at least, oh, I don't know, a whole thirty seconds of thought to steps two, three, and four of your decision tree. https://t.co/HLnfV7p2wd
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) February 28, 2022
HuffPost reached out to Engel for comment on the reaction to his tweet, but no one immediately responded.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.