NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

What's happening in Ukraine, whatever its scale, and it's not totally clear right now, but whatever it is, it's a tragedy because war always is a tragedy and the closer you get to it, the more horrifying it seems. It's the ugliest thing that men do. Ever.  

Vladimir Putin started this war so whatever the context of the decision that he made, he did it. He fired the first shots. He is to blame for what we're seeing tonight in Ukraine. The question is, once we've established that and it's obvious, how should the United States respond to what he has done?  

So, within minutes of the outbreak of the war last night, the usual liars on television began leveraging this tragedy for partisan political gain. If you ever watch the aftermath of the school shooting, you're familiar with how they behave. It's contemptible, but we're going to ignore it tonight because there is too much else going on that actually matters and the main thing that matters in any crisis is deciding what's most important, creating a hierarchy of concern.  


Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to the media during a joint news conference with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban following their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022.  (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)

So, until last night, the main purpose of our foreign policy was to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine. Obviously, that failed. At some point, we should figure out why. But what's our top goal now? Well, there are several of them. Here are the first three:  

First and most obviously: avoid a full-scale war with a nuclear-armed adversary and to be fair, very few people in Washington want anything like that. War with Russia is so obviously a bad idea. But that doesn't mean we won't have one. Wars often break out accidentally or more often incrementally. Things escalate and the next thing you know, you've got Verdun with many thousands dead. Now that shooting has started in Ukraine, it is entirely possible, no matter what they assure you, that Americans could wind up getting hurt in eastern Europe.  

We should prevent that, but preventing it will require wisdom and farsightedness and emotional control—all of which are never in abundant supply in Washington—and especially now that everyone is justifiably upset. Again, what Russia has done is awful, but we can still make it worse. Mark Warner, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, just announced that Russia could be potentially close to triggering what's known as Article Five of the NATO Alliance. That's a collective defense principle. So if Russia were to launch a cyberattack on Ukraine, Warner explained, an attack that affects nearby NATO members like Poland or Lithuania, then possibly every NATO country, including ours, the United States, would be obligated to declare war on Russia. Here he is explaining:  

SEN. MARK WARNER: One of the things that I'm gravely concerned about is if Russia unleashes its full cyber power against Ukraine. Once you put malware into the wild, in a sense, it knows no geographic boundaries. So, if the Russians decide they're going to try to turn off the power, turn off all the electricity all across Ukraine, very likely that may turn off the power in eastern Poland and eastern Romania. That could affect our troops if suddenly hospitals are shut down. If those NATO troops, American troops, somehow have a car accident because the stoplights don't work, we are suddenly in an area of hypothetically an Article Five where one NATO country is attacked, we all have to come to each other's aid. 

So Warner's certainly right. That hypothetical that he outlined could happen in the cyberattack on Ukraine could well affect the infrastructure of the eastern European countries. That would be bad. It would be a crime. The civilized world would deplore it. But Article Five is not a mechanical mechanism. Human beings have to decide to invoke it and the question is: Is what the senator just described something that is worth risking a nuclear conflict over? And that is something we should pause very deeply to think about in the most sober possible way, and we hope that our leaders are. 

But not all of them seem sober right now.  Some of them seem reckless and, as usual, ignorant. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, for example, spends a lot of time on cable television talking about world affairs. He seems like an expert. And yet, by temperament, he's certainly the last person you want anywhere near a nuclear button. Today, Kinzinger informed us that Russia's seizure of the defunct Chernobyl plant might "trigger Article Five." OK, it could be interpreted that way, and then what happens? Clearly, Adam Kinzinger hasn't thought about that. Not for a moment. 


So, you see the problem here. The question is not: Who's at fault? We can say that Vladimir Putin is at fault. But then what? And that's the larger problem. Once conflict starts, especially when that conflict is televised, it's really hard to know what happens next. So, anyone who thinks the invasion of Ukraine couldn't become a world war either lacks imagination or is lying to you. It certainly could become a world war. 

So that's the first goal: not making a terrible thing much, much worse. 

Here's the second goal: keep the energy flowing. Cheap energy, we take it for granted, but it is the basis of all we have. No energy, no civilization. Unfortunately, a huge percentage of Europe's energy now comes from Russia and Ukraine. The European Union relies on Russia for roughly 40% of its natural gas. In Germany, which is one of the biggest economies in the world, that percentage is over half. Most of its energy, in the form of natural gas comes from Russia and Ukraine.  

You don't hear that very often on television. This debate is framed exclusively in moral terms, and those are important. We shouldn't ignore them, but they're not the only terms we should consider. The fact is that Vladimir Putin has the power to send Europe and, for that matter, potentially the United States, into an economic depression. Putin has the power to turn off the lights.  

So where did Vladimir Putin get this power? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but a big reason is the climate people gave him this power. Thanks to pressure from zealots like John Kerry, Europe has been shutting down nuclear power plants for years and that's a very confusing strategy. If you're worried about climate, nuclear energy is not the problem. Nuclear energy is the solution. It's reliable. It's domestically produced. It emits no carbon. So, if you were genuinely worried about temperature rises, global warming, you would embrace nuclear energy. But our leaders, and not just ours, globally across the West, have done the opposite. Why? Maybe their donors and families are invested in so-called renewable technologies? Who knows! Whatever the reason, because of a series of very specific decisions made over time, the West is now dangerously dependent on Vladimir Putin for energy.  

Now, our leaders may act like this is not a big deal. It is definitely a big deal and we ought to make decisions based on that fact. 

And finally, a topic no one ever brings up. We must protect the U.S. dollar. America's power derives from its wealth. Rich countries get to do what they want. Poor countries must obey their masters, or they get invaded. We just saw that happen. That is the unchanging rule.  

In this country, control of the U.S. dollar is the key to our wealth. Our entire financialized debt-based economy rests on the unique privilege of issuing the world's reserve currency. If the U.S. dollar is ever replaced, we are in legitimate trouble. Our debt will come due. Our government will go bankrupt and millions of Americans will become poor immediately. So, this is the main thing we ought to be worried about, and it is a greater risk now than ever before.  

Sanctions are an emotionally satisfying way to punish someone like Vladimir Putin, who clearly does deserve to be punished. No one's really against sanctions, but the question is: Do they work? Clearly, multiple sanctions did not prevent the invasion of Ukraine. Let's start there. At the same time, sanctions give Russia and many other countries across the world a strong incentive to dump the U.S. dollar, which is the means by which we enforce sanctions.  

So last summer, for example, in a story that most people didn't pay enough attention to, Russia, in response to sanctions, completely removed the U.S. dollar, its assets from its sovereign wealth fund, its national wealth fund. The Chinese noticed. They understand exactly how this works and in their effort to displace the United States, they are strongly in favor of it. China is trying to become the first major country in the world to central bank-issued sovereign digital currency.  


Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin, in Moscow on February 14, 2022.  (Photo by ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

If that works, and many efforts like it, it would be a huge loss for the United States, an irreplaceable loss that would change this country forever, much more than an invasion of Ukraine. So, we should be watching attacks on the primacy of the U.S dollar globally every bit as intently as we watched the coverage currently on television of the hot war. 

If at the end of this conflict, whenever that is, countries around the world have come to see the Chinese Yuan as a stronger, more stable currency than the U.S. dollar, then this country will have lost more than we understand. Somebody needs to be paying attention to this. Let's fervently hope that somebody is.  

This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson's opening commentary on the February 24, 2022 edition of "Tucker Carlson Tonight."