The enduring illegal and terroristic invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine by the Russian Federation since 2014 and the People’s Republic of China’s equally illegal and terroristic expansion in Asia and elsewhere have given the lie to most Western intellectuals’ claim that if both would accept even a rudimentary form of capitalism they would also surely become more democratic. In reality, despite the halting westernization attempts undertaken by Gorbachov, Yeltsin as well as Putin and successive Chinese leaders since the death of Mao Zedong, both states are still radically incompatible in their political inculture, mentality, customs and institutions from the West in general and the United States of America in particular. To wit, they also remain separated from the Free World by NATO, the European Union as well as multiple unfriendly alliances in Asia, Africa and South America.
As a result, up to now, both states have taken only a secondary role in world affairs. Hence Presidents Putin’s and Xi’s coordinated call for a new world order, in which presumably their states would play the leading role. Taking advantage of the many institutional weaknesses of the European Union caused by the poorly thought out expansion in the new decade of the twenty first century, the Russian Federation has started to seize territories of the former Soviet Union in the eastern part of the continent. Corresponding to this dangerous situation, the present tyrant in the Kremlin is a born chauvinistic megalomaniac with a mentally sick temperament.
In Asia, President Xi Jinping is infused with dictatorial powers, but at the same time, has been hamstrung by a host of Confucian traditions and rivalizing local cum state interests as well as opinions, which he can only ignore at his peril. In this context, he is bound to take into account the wishes of the party and military bureaucracies, the thoughts of the local potentats as well as the guardians of the spirit of the 1949 coup d’etat. To appease all these divergent interests, he has embarked on an aggressive maritime expansion, including the threat of global invasion to the Republic of China. To show off his tyrannical side, he has been fighting the bureaucracies by ruthlessly clamping down on his country’s lethal corruption. Thus, his reign since 2013 has been characterized by a confusing cavalcade of internal and foreign contradictions. To summarize President Putin’s and President Xi’s political conditions, they are collectively compromised by their powers stained with the blood of the joint tyrannical past, their domestic as well as foreign political and military strategic shenanigans and tactical intrigues. These contradictory attributes – the uncompromising tyrant and the duplicitous coward – have never been separated throughout their bloody reigns.
Meanwhile, in the United States of America, single issue minority movements have been laboring aggressively on enforcement of false realities. Under the banner of “Political Correctness” cum “Multiculturalism”, allegedly fighting against “White Supremacy”, “Exploitative Capitalism” and “Evil Democracy”, they have brought pervasive hatred and senseless violence across the nation. Their idiotic pseudo-intellectual sociopolitical garbage have merely generated untold catastrophes and individual tragedies inside and outside the Union. Moreover, their inability to comprehend realities has been heightened by the failed ideologies of Marx, Stalin as well as Mao. In this manner, they all have divorced themselves from common sense and have become sheep-like slaves of a nonexistent should be future with a victim mentality. The election in 2020 of a president in the advanced stages of hopeless dementia, has only exacerbated their friend versus foe psychopathologies. Finally, the social media’s immoral manipulations of good versus evil phenomena have resulted in a sickening distortion of innocent versus guilt notions, in which these minority movements hunt for everybody who questions the absolute truthfulness of their inferiority complex driven unrealities. Unless it stopped decisively, this extremely dangerous fake herd ideology could destroy Western civilization with its absolute hostility to the core principles of individual liberty and burgeoning prosperity. Coupled with the Democrat Party’s “Open Borders” lawlessness, in which the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants reject assimilation because of their loyalty to their native culture, lack of views on free speech as well as tolerance for other persons’ opinions, they too contribute mightily to the growth of the fallacious myth of victimhood. In this tragic society of misguided illusions, normalcy is thrown out of the window and exiled to the massive garbage heap of the real world. More importantly, since a prohibitively large percentage of those semi-educated people tend to work in the federal cum state bureaucracies, in education and the media, their unmitigated lust for power and money will assure the maintenance of a well-nourished vicious circle of abominable hatred and manipulative lies. Clearly, the world resembles a rudderless ship without a competent captain. Similarly to Plato’s Ship of State metaphor, today’s political leaders across the globe are like the ship-owner who knows nothing about directing a sailboat. Underneath him, his underlings are equally uneducated about the profession of navigation. Yet, they prevent the skilled navigators from taking command of the sailboat. Appallingly, the world’s only superpower has been missing from the global stage since the end of the Reagan presidency. Because of that, the world has become an extremely dangerous theater of political rivalries by incompetent but power hungry so-called politicians. Meanwhile, Russia and China have become the epicenters of complex aggressions where all the elements of state terrorism are present. Europe has become a tangled mess. Asia is gearing up for multiple confrontations among its great powers. The Greater Middle East will remain snarled in tribal, religious and political rivalries. Africa seemingly cannot escape from its indigenous as well as colonial miseries. The states of Central and South America are stock in the twisted threads of their history and the peoples’ desire for a better life. No doubt that the world cries out for leadership. Restoring America’s greatness must be an urgent priority. To accomplish that, the people need to wise up and elect competent leaders who could act decisively to restore sanity to public life throughout the Union and beyond.
Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has proven that Putin seeks to rebuild the former Soviet empire by force and if he must kill tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people to accomplish his goal, he is willing to do it. What is happening in Ukraine is jarring and we should learn the lessons that it is teaching. Putin thought he would cruise to victory in Ukraine in a matter of days. But his efforts bogged down in part because his conventional fighting forces are weaker than most would have predicted, and the Ukrainian people’s willingness to fight for their country was greater than most would have anticipated.
However, once Putin’s military stalled and not so veiled nuclear threats began to leak out of the Kremlin, it allowed the rest of the world the time and opportunity to not only condemn Russia, but to provide much needed aid to the Ukrainian people.
Putin showed us that it is a mistake to assume that because our conventional military forces are the world’s strongest, that we don’t need to worry about nuclear threats. To most Americans the idea of unleashing nuclear weapons seems incomprehensible. But if you are thoroughly evil, and have grandiose ambitions, and your conventional military cannot defeat the west, you only have one card to play — a nuclear one. Russian military doctrine actually states that it can win a nuclear war, so our defenses against nuclear threats must be every bit as robust as our conventional military forces.
Russia doesn’t have as robust of a surface navy as it once had when it was the Soviet Union. But it continues to maintain a highly capable submarine fleetthat is part of Russia’s nuclear threat.
It should not come as a surprise that a nation who has learned it cannot compete militarily on a conventional basis, will rely more heavily on its nuclear capability. It is no coincidence that for the past decade or two, Russia has invested heavily in nuclear assets. They have invested heavily in hypersonic missiles as a delivery mechanism, and have also been busy developing tactical nuclear weapons while we havebeen essentially decommissioning ours. Allowing Russia — with a leader like Putin — to have the upper hand in a nuclear conflict is a catastrophically bad strategy. As we’ve seen in Ukraine, trusting in the goodwill and decency of a man like Putin is complete folly.
We must therefore be prepared to neutralize the Russian nuclear threat. Missile defense is obviously an important component of that. But perhaps an unknown or under-appreciated part of our defensive capability is the P-8 Poseidon. It is the world’s most capable sub-hunting aircraft. It has ultra sensitive radar, special cameras, sonar buoys for finding and tracking submarines, and the capability to destroy threatening submarines.
But that’s not all. The P-8 Poseidon is a highly versatile, multi-mission aircraft. It is an effective reconnaissance plane, and it can engage and destroy surface ships, and do search and rescue missions. In so many different missions, the P-8 is truly state of the art.
The P-8 has been a highly successful program, as a modified and tailored 737, it has been designed and built from the ground up to perform its vital functions. It has been delivered on time, within cost perimeters, and it does everything that it was designed to do while performing above expectations.
But the problem is we don’t have enough of them to counteract the threats we face. And it isn’t just Putin. China has become increasingly belligerent and has been building a navy larger than our own. Their stated goal is to replace the US as the world’s most powerful nation. China’s communist leaders don’t seek stability, they seek domination.
During the height of the Cold War, we had far more sub-hunter aircraft than we do now, yet the risk is much greater today. In 1975, we were not worried about China. Today, we have every reason to be worried about both Russian and China.
A number of our allies also see the P-8 as the future of sub-hunting. But we don’t yet even have a full compliment of the numbers our war fighting experts said we needed several years ago — and that was when we saw Russia as a far less dangerous threat. So the truth is, we need a lot more P-8 Poseidons than we currently have. And we need them yesterday.
There is tremendous urgency to ramp up our ability to neutralize the nuclear threats that Russia and China pose. While the P-8 isn’t the only thing we need, it is a very good place to start. And we have no time to waste. As we have learned, our adversaries are watching and when they determine
d that we are not prepared or strong, they will jump at the opportunity to expand their dominance and control. So let’s hope Congress and the Pentagon are paying attention and send a signal that America will always be ready and capable. And they can do that by making sure we have plenty of P-8 Poseidons to counteract this growing nuclear threat.
The closer attention you pay to Biden, the less he has to say
President Joe Biden is “rattled,” according to NBC News, and “looking to regain voters’ confidence that he can provide the sure-handed leadership he promised during the campaign.”
How? By trying to change the media narrative. On May 30, Biden published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that explained “My Plan for Fighting Inflation.” The next day, Biden wrote a “guest essay” for the New York Times on “What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine.”
Bad poll numbers and a collapsing domestic and international situation have excited the typically drowsy president into action. There’s a problem, though. The closer you read Biden’s op-eds, the less he has to say. This new, annoyed, engaged Biden may be a prolific writer and speaker. But he’s not an incisive one. He won’t admit that there is a connection between his ideology and America’s problems. He can’t decide between giving Ukraine the weapons necessary to defeat Russia or settling for a war of attrition.
Biden’s Journal op-ed is a masterclass in passing the buck. He doesn’t bring up his “plan for fighting inflation” until midway through his thousand-word piece. My inner college professor wanted to send the article back to him with suggestions for revision. Number one: Always move your best material to the top!
The plan itself is gauzy and thin. “The Federal Reserve has a primary responsibility to control inflation.” You wouldn’t know that from listening to Progressives, including some of Biden’s nominees to the Federal Reserve, who argue that the Fed’s interest in price stability distracts it from promoting full employment, green energy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Now Biden wants the Fed to correct not only its mistakes, but his own. Let’s see if his faith in an independent central bank can stand the test of higher interest rates, higher unemployment, and lower incomes.
Parts two and three of Biden’s inflation plan are the remnants of his Build Back Better agenda: some clean energy and housing subsidies here, a few tax hikes there. He mentions his use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gas prices, but not his appeals to Venezuela and OPEC to boost the oil supply. As for the obvious answers to America’s energy problems—a complete reversal of Biden’s hostility to oil and gas exploration and production, huge investments in nuclear power, and emergency efforts to increase refinery capacity—Biden has no words. His devotion to the environmental lobby and to green energy blinds him. If the Progressive Left rejects nuclear power, the “clean energy future” it desires won’t arrive.
This mismatch between ends and means is visible in Biden’s Ukraine policy. The president tells New York Times readers that the United States sends Ukraine weapons “so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.” The desired end state is “a democratic, independent, sovereign, and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.” And Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is in the driver’s seat. “I will not pressure the Ukrainian government—in private or public—to make any territorial concessions.”
All good. Why, then, limit the weapons deliveries to systems with ranges of 40 miles? Why slow-walk and agonize over each tranche of support? Why engage with Russia in farcical and dangerous negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons? Why not take a more active role in peace talks between Ukraine and Russia? The Biden policy is static even as the shape of the war changes in ways that favor the aggressor. The president’s goals are laudable. But his tactics are calibrated for a war that Ukraine is winning.
And Ukraine is not winning. At least not now. The Ukrainians defeated Russia’s attempt at regime change. But they have been less successful in removing Russia from eastern Ukraine and from their port cities in the south and southeast. Absent a change in Biden administration policy—in the ranges of weapons systems America provides Ukraine, in the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to relieve the Russian blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports, or in a major diplomatic effort—the war will turn into a frozen conflict with no clear resolution and with mounting humanitarian costs. How that situation would help anyone, including Biden, is unclear.
Then again, little Biden says or does makes sense from the vantage point of either policy or politics. He’s right to be rattled. He’s also clueless.
When confronted with the murderous policies of the Third Reich on the eastern front in the late summer of 1941, Winston Churchill stated: “We are in the presence of a crime without a name.” Three years later, the Polish-Jewish jurist Raphael Lemkin gave the crime the name of genocide. The powerful implications of that name descend like a dark cloud over the Russian invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine today.
Lemkin had studied law at University of Lviv in the early 1920s (Lviv, today part of western Ukraine, was then called Lwów and was within the borders of Poland). He practiced international law in Warsaw before fleeing to the United States after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. Lemkin coined his famous term in a 1944 Carnegie Endowment publication: “The practices of extermination of nations and ethnic groups as carried out by the invaders [the Nazis] is called by the author ‘genocide,’ a term deriving from the Greek word genos (tribe, race) and the Latin cide (by way of analogy, see homicide, fratricide).” Lemkin knew Ukraine well; he was one of the first to identify the Holodomor (Killer Famine) of 1932–33 that killed some four million Ukrainians as a genocidal attempt on the part of Stalin’s regime to break the back of the Ukrainian nation.
Dedicated to establishing an international law that would proscribe genocide in the international system, Lemkin lobbied at the newly founded United Nations to pass a “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” which it adopted unanimously on December 9, 1948. Here, genocide is identified as a series of acts—killing members of the group is the first mentioned—“committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such.” The emphasis here is firmly on the destruction of a “group, as such” and its ability to continue to function as a group. Among the other acts mentioned in the convention are: “causing bodily harm . . . to members of the group,” “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction,” “imposing measures intended to prevent births,” and “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
Even the quickest review of the events of the past ten weeks in Ukraine makes it evident that the Genocide Convention applies at least in part to the Russian actions in the Kyiv region revealed after the withdrawal of their forces. We still are uncertain of the extent of genocidal acts in the coastal city of Mariupol, but the pounding of the city’s civilian population, the revelation of mass graves, the forced evacuation of tens of thousands of citizens to Russia, the role of “filtration camps” in Rostov-on-Don, and the alleged relocation of Ukrainian children indicate an assault on Ukrainian nationality as such, which would constitute genocide.
Both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and US President Joseph Biden have accused the Russians of committing genocide in Ukraine. It is good they bring this up, if only to put Putin and the Russian elite on alert that they will be held accountable for their crimes. Certainly, the indications of genocide are there, even if the factual materials for a legal case have not yet been collected. One of the problems in coming to an unalloyed conclusion about genocide in Ukraine is that the evidence that has been released to the public is not conclusive and there is much we still do not know about the Russians’ actions and intentions. The war is far from over and the worst may be yet to come. Even at that, as we know from the bloodshed in Bosnia, evidence from mass graves can be turned up long after the actual fighting is over. Even in the case of the Holocaust, fresh evidence continues to be produced that can be used in cases against the few perpetrators still alive.
We know that the US Department of State is accumulating evidence against the Russians, as is the Ukrainian government, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and a host of international NGOs. Most important, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim A. A. Khan, was just in Ukraine, along with other investigators, reviewing and cataloguing the host of crimes committed by the Russians in Bucha, Irpin, and elsewhere. Most of these cases are linked to “war crimes” (willful killing, willful infliction of suffering, taking of hostages, etc.) and “crimes against humanity” (extermination, torture, rape and sexual slavery, enforced disappearance, etc.), both of which are also subject to ICC prosecution. The crime of aggressive war, for which Nazi leaders were tried and hanged at Nuremberg in 1946, also falls within the purview of the ICC. But by statute, the court cannot pursue the particular case of aggressive war—in contrast to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide—against a country (Russia is one, the United States is another) that does not formally recognize the court’s jurisdiction.
There is also the crucial criterion of the perpetrators’ intentions in assessing genocide. Do Putin and his coterie of political and military leaders seek to destroy the Ukrainians as a national group as such? There is considerable evidence in the public domain to support this assertion. Putin’s historical screed of July 2021, “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” and a series of his speeches and off-the-cuff remarks deny the distinctiveness of the Ukrainian nation and its historical legitimacy. For Putin, Zelenskyy and his government represent the interests of neo-Nazis and their American and European supporters. The goal of the Russian campaign in his view is the “denazification” and de-militarization of Ukraine. These statements are mimicked by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; former president and deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev; and other Kremlin leaders who refuse to take Ukrainian national identity seriously. In this view, anyone who asserts Ukrainian identity thus becomes an enemy.
Comments by some pro-Kremlin television commentators and journalists are even more blatantly genocidal. In an April 3, 2022, article released by Novosti, the semiofficial Russian news agency, the journalist Timofei Sergeitsev took a frightening step beyond Putin’s already baleful accusations of Ukrainian Nazism. He suggested that the bulk of the Ukrainian masses were “passive Nazis” and “accomplices of Nazism” and should be subjected to re-education. The Ukrainians’ desire for independence and a European path was nothing more, he states, than pure Nazism, or what he called “Ukronazism.” Margarita Simonyan, who heads up a Kremlin news group, inserted an even more toxic additive to this dangerous rhetoric: “What makes you a Nazi is your bestial nature, your bestial hatred, and your bestial willingness to tear out the eyes of children on the basis of nationality.” It is hard to believe any Kremlin propagandists, given their mendacity, but given the viewpoints of many Russians, the media have succeeded in dehumanizing and diminishing the Ukrainians as a people, one of the signposts of genocide.
The extent to which the rhetoric has been translated into actions has become terrifyingly apparent. Simonyan’s diatribe about Ukrainians’ readiness “to tear out the eyes of children” was reflected in the signature, “for the children,” that was painted on the missile that the Russians lobbed into the train station at Kramatorsk, killing, among others, at least five children. One of the constant themes of Russian propaganda in the breakaway Donbass region since 2014 is that Ukrainians are killing and maiming children, even committing genocide.
Russian soldiers stop Ukrainian civilians at road blockades and guard posts to search for “Nazis,” looking for nationalist tattoos on the men, in which case they are dragged off to be interrogated, tortured, and worse. All it takes is for someone to be identified as having fought in a nationalist formation or even simply to be a good, patriotic Ukrainian for the Russians to wreak vengeance. The torture, executions, mass burials, indications of abuse, beatings, and rape—the senseless shelling of civilians in their homes and on the roads—leads one to believe that many Russian soldiers have absorbed the “Ukrainians are Nazis” line that they have been fed by their government and officers. Even if they do not, they have no choice but to remain silent. Some desert or surrender readily, just as hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens have left their homeland for abroad, searching for respite from the Kremlin’s lying and oppression. But most stay at their posts and fight.
The war in Ukraine grinds on; genocide hangs in the air. Evidence is being collected by the day. Some Ukrainian jurists recommend that a trial of the perpetrators be arranged in Kharkiv, which was the site in December 1943 of the first trial of Nazi perpetrators for their crimes against civilians in World War II. Putting Putin and his coterie on trial for genocide would not be easy and it will not happen soon. It took years after the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims for former Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević to be brought to trial for genocide (Milošević died before a verdict could be rendered). The remaining Khmer Rouge leaders were brought to trial by the Cambodian tribunal only in 1997, almost two decades after they were responsible for killing more than a fifth of their population.
Like the war itself, the trials of its perpetrators will demand great patience and fortitude—above all, from the Ukrainians themselves.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reenergized the Trans-Atlantic alliance in a manner unthinkable just two years ago. President Donald Trump entered office in 2017 with a deeply skeptical view of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the role of the United States as the world’s policeman and guarantor of European and Pacific security. He deliberately kept vague his administration’s commitment to uphold Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which commits member states to treat an attack on any one of them as an attack on all of them and to take appropriate action “to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”
President Joe Biden entered office last year intent on reestablishing the credibility of the Trans-Atlantic alliance and reaffirming the U.S. commitment to NATO. Two weeks after taking the oath of office, Biden stated unequivocally that “America is back…we will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s. American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy.” At the 31st summit of NATO leaders in June 2021, Biden reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to NATO, while alliance leaders highlighted the challenges posed by a strengthening China and resurging Russia.
Perhaps because they did not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin would go so far as to roll the iron dice and invade Ukraine, alliance leaders did not issue a declaratory statement, or create a “red line,” on what would happen if he actually did so. When as many as 200,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s borders and then invaded, Biden sent thousands of additional U.S. troops to Eastern Europe but explicitly stated that they would not enter Ukrainian territory to assist in the defense of that country. Biden, along with other NATO leaders, fashioned a set of responses to Russian aggression to include a commitment to “defend every inch of NATO territory,” severe economic sanctions (albeit not against Russian export to Europe of badly needed oil and gas), arming Ukraine with defensive weapons such as Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, diplomatically isolating Russia, and going after the assets of Russian oligarchs who benefitted from Putin’s rule. The response by Western leaders has been united and forceful, which undoubtedly surprised Putin, who viewed the West as weak and divided. Instead of making Russia great again, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine made NATO essential again.
The modern idea of a united alliance of great powers intent on deterring conflict is a century old, an outgrowth of the catastrophic Great War that nearly destroyed Europe’s faith in Western civilization. In the aftermath of that titanic struggle, the Big Four at the Paris Peace Conference in Versailles—French Premier Georges Clemenceau, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson—agreed to create a League of Nations, an international body that would adjudicate and resolve international disputes, thus preventing a repeat of the seemingly accidental plunge into world war in 1914 and the resulting slaughter of a generation of youth in the trenches. The United States, however, never joined the League, with the U.S. Senate’s refusal to ratify the Treaty of Versailles resulting in the retreat of the United States into isolation in the Western Hemisphere, seemingly protected by two great oceans.
The League of Nations, nevertheless, appeared to hold promise. The Locarno Pact of 1925, which resolved Germany’s western borders, led to the inclusion of Germany into the League the following year with a permanent seat on the League Council. Nevertheless, the era of mutual security in Europe was short-lived. Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 led to the subversion of the Versailles Treaty, which became a dead letter upon the reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936 by German forces. In Asia, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in 1933 after a League commission found Japanese forces had illegally occupied Manchuria. An Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 led the League to invoke economic sanctions, but France and Great Britain rescinded their support early the next year and allowed Italy to annex its illegally confiscated African possession. The U.S. Congress, meanwhile, enacted three Neutrality Acts designed to prevent the United States from slipping into war as many believed it had done without much thought in 1917. Lacking widespread support for the hard decisions required to ensure collective security and without the support of the United States, the League withered and died with the onset of World War II.
The victory of the Grand Alliance in that second and even more cataclysmic worldwide conflict led to another and more successful attempt at establishing collective security. The United Nations charter was signed in San Francisco on June 25, 1945, with the United States, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and China holding permanent seats on the Security Council. The onset of the Cold War and the defeat of Nationalist forces in China, however, made consensus in that body difficult, with the lone exception of the Korean War, when a Soviet boycott of the United Nations in protest against Nationalist China maintaining its seat in the body enabled the United States to sponsor a resolution condemning the North Korean attack on South Korea and authorizing the use of force to repel the invading army. UN forces remain on guard along the 38th Parallel to this day.
Given the inability of the United Nations to maintain collective security, the United States and its European and North American allies established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949 to provide for collective defense, to prevent the reemergence of militaristic governments in Western Europe, and to stimulate political integration of member states. Bilateral U.S. defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, and Australia likewise provided a degree of collective security in the Pacific. These defense pacts prevented the outbreak of global hostilities and provided security for the global commons, leading to a new era of globalization and massive economic growth.
NATO is arguably the most successful alliance in history. For forty years it deterred a Soviet attack on Western Europe and provided a defense umbrella under which Europe grew both peaceful and prosperous. Germany was allowed to rearm under NATO auspices, and by the 1980s NATO possessed significant conventional capabilities to accompany its nuclear deterrent forces. It more than achieved its purpose, according to Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, NATO’s first Secretary General, to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, however, led some to question the necessity for or viability of the alliance. The breakup of Yugoslavia and the descent of Bosnia and Herzegovina into civil war eventually led to a NATO-sponsored intervention that halted the fighting and stabilized the Balkans. NATO’s purpose, it turned out, was what it had always been—to keep the European continent stable and at peace. After terrorists launched attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Article 5 of the Washington Treaty was invoked for the first time ever, and NATO aircraft patrolled the skies over U.S. cities for a short time.
For more ambitious American and European policy makers, NATO was seen not as a relic of the Cold War past, but as an avenue to the future. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO sought a new purpose in expanding the zone of democracy in Europe. Several rounds of enlargement expanded NATO relentlessly to the east, until it ran into the Russian border. Although Russian leaders were powerless to stop the advance, they were as it turns out less than enthralled by the prospect of having the world’s most powerful military alliance on their doorstep.
In 2005 Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in a speech to the Duma that “the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.” Putin’s desire to make Russia great again by rebuilding its military capabilities, linking the former Soviet Socialist Republics with Moscow, and dominating what Russian leaders refer to as the “near abroad” was clear enough. Putin directed invasions of Chechnya in 1999 and Georgia in 2008, ordered the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and created puppet governments in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine after sparking a Ukrainian civil war in 2014. The purpose of the latter actions was to create “frozen conflicts” that would prevent NATO from admitting Georgia or Ukraine, as the alliance has never before embraced new members that had outstanding border disputes.
As the world discovered just a few weeks ago, these measures were insufficient to assuage Putin’s ambitions. He desired not just a neutered Ukraine, but a subservient one. Putin never reconciled himself to the ousting in 2014 of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Moscow government in a struggle over whether Ukraine would join the European Union, headquartered in Brussels, or the Eurasian Economic Union, headquartered in Moscow. Ukrainians overwhelmingly wanted to look west for their future and took to the streets in massive numbers to make their point. To Putin, the Maidan Revolution was a western-inspired coup that severed Ukraine from its rightful place as the largest entity in Russia’s orbit.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has smacked Western leaders over the head with a two by four of reality. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced an increase in defense spending in his country to more than 2 percent of GDP, a figure that would put Germany ahead of Russia in military spending and which shows how deeply unsettling the Ukraine War has been to one of the most pacifist nations in Europe. President Biden has also earmarked increased funding for the U.S. armed forces, requesting $813B for national defense in FY 2023, with additional increases in the out years. Other NATO countries are likely to follow suit and strengthen their militaries.
Of course, the world has seen this emphasis on defense and deterrence come and go before. After World War II the United States demobilized, only to reverse course and maintain sustained high levels of defense spending from the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 to the Gulf War of 1991. The peace dividend of the 1990s ended in 2001 with the crash of airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Europe’s peace dividend lasted longer, but with Russian tanks rolling onto the Ukrainian steppes, the Continent is rearming. The West is united in opposing Russian aggression and is willing to back up that position with substantial resources and diplomatic clout. This posture has its limits, mainly in Asia, where China is taking a muscular stance towards Taiwan and its neighbors in the South China Sea but maintains significant economic leverage over its trading partners to temper their responses. European nations have also yet to wean themselves off of Russian oil and gas, which places limits on their ability to deter Putin’s adventurism.
Unless the West can come together economically in a manner that complements their military prowess, the current state of unity might be fleeting. At stake is the future of globalization, the prospect of collective deterrence of state-sponsored aggression, and the fate of the world’s democracies. Western policy makers must act decisively to ensure the Free World remains strong and united, even as the iron dice roll across the Eurasian heartland.
The annals of human history are filled with innumerable acts of barbarism and tyranny committed by ruthless warmongers, religious fanatics and their ethnically hate-filled genocidal followers. After the countless battery of heinous crimes committed by Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union and Japan’s Imperial Military before and during World War II, it was rightly expected that the light of humanism finally would emerge triumphant over the dark forces of Fascism, National Socialism, military Imperialism and the Soviet Union’s depraved utopian Communism. However, while Germany, Italy, Japan and their former allies completely renounced Imperialism, Fascism as well as National Socialism, Russia’s leaders have never abandoned their tyrannical and revanchist domestic as well as foreign policies to restore the putative “greatness” of the thoroughly discredited Soviet Union with its colonial empire. To wit, by the leaders of the newly minted Russian Federation, the terms Fascism, Nazism and Imperialism have been misused to emphasize their irreconcilable enmity and their fallacious use of the most strategic engagement in their quest for the restoration of the status quo ante – their uncompromising confrontation with the United States of America as well as the rest of the world.
Accordingly, from his original installation by former President Yeltsin as the new tyrant of the Russian Federation at the end of 1999, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has labored to recreate the Soviet Union under the old Tsarist ideology of Official Nationality. Composed of Pan Slavism, known also as transcendent Christian Orthodoxy; Autocracy, meaning the so-called governing elite’s tyrannical supremacy; and Nationality, depicted as the racial superiority of the Russian narodnost cum nation. Moreover, in his capacities as President and Prime Minister, Putin has been on a mission to reassure the Russian people that the Soviet Union’s disintegration was due to the hostile machinations of foreign powers, not to the internal and international weaknesses of the pseudo Communist empire. The empire was only gone temporarily, he concluded. The emergence of the Russian Federation, like the mythological Phoenix rising from the eternal fire, constitutes a victory, not a defeat, he stated. Finally, the resurrection of historical Russia is the clearest proof that the sufferings of the Russian nation will be reversed by him. Be patient and courageous, he intoned, and I will conquer Russia’s enemies and the world.
Concurrently, a succession of American presidents have labored under the assumption that the leaders of the Russian Federation desire to politically democratize and economically modernize their realm. The common characteristic of their views of Russia has been the utter lack of knowledge and understanding of Russian history, Russian culture and the mentality of the Russian people. Hence, President Clinton’s “peace dividend,” President George W. Bush’s “I looked the man in the eye” amateurish fallacy, President Obama’s vainglorious belief in his imaginary brain powers, President Trump’s faith in his “art of the deal” ability, and President Biden’s non-existent experience as well as almost zero knowledge of European and world history, have only contributed to the enhanced geostrategic confusion of the post-Soviet era.
As historians and politicians incessantly remind us, the histories of individual countries, regions and continents are interconnected. In general, they also note that the more things change the more they remain the same. Lastly, they bemoan the fact that the ever changing politics of the day usually negatively affect the appreciation of history. Yet, interconnection does not mean uniformity, advancement does not always signal progress, and politically tainted interpretation and reinterpretation of the past as well as the present do not necessarily result in positive transformation of nations and societies. Objectively, the histories of different countries that are interconnected have shown, more often than not, distinctly disparate interpretations of real as well as invented traditions, leaving their histories with substantive triviality which prevents these societies and nations from proceeding toward establishing complete democracies.
Russia’s war on Ukraine is an unrelievedly grim tale of both countries’ historical inability to overcome the past collapses of their antediluvian orders. The resulting political, intellectual, cultural and moral madness always led to extraordinary convolutions. Specifically, behind the demolition artist Putin there lurks the primitive, misinformed, exploited and wretched masses of the Russian people. Conversely, behind the increasingly heroic persona of Zelenskyy stands the combined force of the heterogeneous Ukrainian nation that in its overwhelming majority desires to move west from its traditional eastern roots.
Contrary to the superficial and thus erroneous impression of most politicians and media analysts, Putin has been a living enigma without a rational reason. Obsessed by his Russian inferiority complex and fear of Western intellectual and cultural superiority, Putin was awestruck by the alacrity of German reunification. These feelings of citizen Putin were compounded by the chaotic and violent events of the first decade of the newly minted Russian Federation under President Yeltsin. Thus, when appointed Prime Minister on August 9, 1999, his first act of revenge was his brutal military operation against the independence movement of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria against the Russian Federation. For Putin, the two-year war in Chechnya, dubbed the Second Chechen War, was also a crusade to prove that in Putin’s Russian Federation the right of self-determination of peoples and nations will not be tolerated. More importantly, he showed that the strongest nation in the region has no legal or moral responsibilities to respect international and domestic laws which it signed, such as the Peace Treaty of 1997 after the First Chechen War between 1994-1996. The 1999 war on Chechnya demonstrated that the mightier nation can murder indiscriminately, steal, rape and lie at will. The result was deep hatred toward Putin and everything Russian by those whom the former should have respected and treated as equal. Even more egregiously, Putin’s war against the Chechens was an unambiguous declaration that he does not recognize self-discipline as a guiding principle of any political order, be it domestic or international. By doing so, Putin made it crystal clear that as president he will be driven by ruthless and indiscriminate violence as well as horrible inhumanity. More than two decades later, in February 2022, he proved that his infinite barbarism knows no bounds, and that his lack of self-control could become suicidal.
His illegal war on Ukraine is only the first salvo in his relentless and uncompromising quest to establish a new world order. According to numerous statements by President Putin and his Foreign Minister Lavrov, Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has been designed to put an end to the US-dominated international regime: “Our special military operation is meant to put an end to the unabashed expansion [of NATO] and the unabashed drive towards full domination by the US and its Western subjects on the world stage,” did the latter intone on Rossiya 24 news channel. Moreover: “This domination is built on gross violations of international law and under some rules, which they are now hyping so much and which they make up on a case-by-case basis.” Finally, he blasted the European Union’s foreign policy commissioner Josep Borrell thus: “When a diplomatic chief …says a certain conflict can only be resolved through military action…Well, it must be something personal. He either misspoke or spoke without thinking, making statements that nobody asked him to make. But it’s an outrageous remark.” In closing, he assured his interviewer that Russia wants a negotiated peace with Ukraine.
What hypocrisy? What outrage? What lies? Starting with the Kremlin’s declared objectives when the illegal invasion begun to “DeNazify” and to “teach Kyiv’s drug edicts” to implement the Minsk agreements signed in 2014 and 2015 respectively, and concluding with the demand that Kyiv recognize the illegal annexation of the Crimea as well as the fraudulent independence of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Luhansk, the Kremlin has incessantly upped the ante against Ukraine. Most recently, President Putin has demanded that Kyiv officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO and the European Union.
Clearly, President Putin’s goals are unattainable by peaceful means. His stated intention to reestablish the Soviet Union and beyond means wars that will rapidly multiply without ends in sight. Moreover, these wars will become so lengthy, so bloody and so costly, that they will surely destroy Russia and at least the neighboring countries. Finally, the attacks on the well established principles of international law, humanitarianism and reason, will elevate brute force and unlimited violence to the supreme principle of international relations. What President Putin really demands is the complete barbarization of the world through ubiquitous militarization. This demand, however, demonstrates that he lacks even a modicum of educated intellect to comprehend the realities of world politics. Most importantly, he is absolutely oblivious to the fact that wars for the sake of mindless destruction and which never end will lose their political efficacy. The world cannot allow itself to be led by a barbarian with sub-intelligence to total annihilation. Shockingly, the Biden administration has chosen from the beginning of the war Obama’s “leading from behind” approach. Personally, President Biden is mentally unfit to lead anything. He is a failed president who belongs to a mental institution rather than in the White House. In the presidency, his shuffling connotes stagnation and even walking backwards. In politics, this kind of glaring weakness exposes a politician to assault. Ignoring President Putin’s grand design will result in worldwide catastrophe. Unless Congress realizes that the world is at a crossroads and forces him to change course, the world will perish. The United States of America cannot be wrong a second time. For these reasons, if the United States of America will not lead the world and do not unite against President Putin’s barbarism, the Ukrainian genocide will become the beginning of the end for human civilization on this earth.
As the world watches in horror as Vladimir Putin’s Russia bombs civilian sites like maternity hospitals in Ukraine in an unprovoked attack of raw conquest, sanctions have been imposed on a number of Russian banks, individuals and businesses.
Many are increasingly talking about and espousing buying American; however, that conversation actually started long before now.
When China began to leverage its manufacturing base during the pandemic to disadvantage nations that questioned its role in developing and hiding information about the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that becoming dependent on an adversarial nation for basic needs is not a good strategy.
Having run off most of our medical manufacturing facilities from Puerto Rico turned out to be not only harmful to Puerto Ricans employed in those facilities, but it turned out to be bad for Americans everywhere.
The U.S. needed China, so it could sell us medicines and supplies that we no longer could make. This gave China power and leverage over us. Control they were and arequite happy to possess and use.
The conflict in Ukraine illustrates another important point.
Sending money to a vicious and ruthless dictator gives him the resources to employ unthinkable atrocities — like bombing women and children in a maternity hospital — and attempts to force free nations to accept a foreign dictator as their ruler.
Challenging times often give us a chance to develop and display character.
It’s often hardest to do the right thing when it carries a heavy cost.
That’s what makes a recent move by Boeing so interesting.
The company announced it has suspended buying titanium from Russia, one of the world’s largest suppliers of the commodity. There are currently no sanctions imposed on Russian titanium so Boeing is drawing a line in the sand and making a strong statement about where it stands.
Naturally, the move has not gone over well with Russia.
Titanium is an important metal in the aerospace industry because of its strength and lightweight characteristics. It’s as strong and hard as steel, but weighs about half as much.
Titanium has the added benefit of being highly resistant to corrosion.
If you want to build world-class jumbo jets, you must have titanium to do so.
Boeing decided that it would move forward without Russian titanium because putting money in Putin’s pocket would only help his efforts to destroy Ukraine, topple its democratically elected government, and oppress about 40 million Ukrainians.
In contrast to Boeing’s strong stance, Airbus has announced that it will continue to buy titanium from Russia. That says a lot about Airbus — and none of it’s good.
There is an appreciable history of questionable business practices at Airbus, prompting investigations in the United Kingdom, where the allegation is the breach of the Bribery Act of 2010.
Airbus has agreed to pay billions in fines because it settled accusations of bribery, regarding the purported obtainment of lucrative contracts in foreign countries. French and U.S. authorities have also found indications of alleged bribery involving Airbus and their agents in Russia and China.
The bottom line is Americans should think twice before doing business with Airbus, especially our government and military leaders.
Why should we trust the business with national security contracts?
Some argue we should trust Airbus, but that seems as naive as making yourself dependent upon China for critically important medicines in a pandemic.
America ought not be beholden to anyone for the things that it needs the most.
As Russia is a potential nuclear threat, it’s pretty clear that missile defense technology is a critical need and must be 100% American. And as fears loom about war and the long-term intentions of China and Russia, all of our national security technology must also be 100% American.
To make ourselves dependent on others — particularly those with a checkered past —makes zero sense.
If we send our national security capabilities and jobs overseas, we’ll assuredly regret it.
The history of present-day Russia has been untypically idiosyncratic both in its schizophrenic mentality as well as in its discombobulated irrationality. Starting with the Varangian rule of Prince Oleg of Novgorod in 882, continuing with the Mongol invasion in 1237-1240, and culminating in the establishment of the Tsardom of Russia in 1547, the synthesis of Slavic-Byzantine-Mongolian heritage has given birth to the first pseudo Russian civilization, in which stark disagreements about what constitutes such a culture have never been solved with unambiguous clarity. In its civilizational cum cultural misery, Russia has remained completely isolated from Europe and Asia for two centuries. More importantly, from a political perspective, the Russian monarchy was evil from its inception. In this manner, national or individual liberties were never contemplated, let alone implemented, throughout Russia’s bloody history.
Then, around the late 17th century, the fourteenth child of Tsar Alexis, called Pyotr Alekseyevich, emerged first in 1682 as a co-ruler and in 1696 as the sole Sovereign of all Russia. Until his death in 1725, this monarch, known in the West as Peter the Great or Emperor Peter I, attempted by ruthless despotism to “Westernize” his realm. He built a military fashioned after the Western Empires, partially broke the monopoly of the Russian Orthodox Church over public education, and reorganized the administration. Latent and open opposition to his Western reforms resulted in an interregnum that lasted until 1762, when the second of his surviving daughters Catherine I was crowned.
From there on, Tsarist Russia was even more badly ruled. A succession of male and female despots were more preoccupied with navigating the cruel labyrinths of factional wars than dealing with Russia’s chronic domestic backwardness and international isolation. Even the long reign of Catherine II did not result in lasting reforms for the better. While having built cordial relationships with many of the great minds of her era and amassed tremendous powers, she was bound by emotional attractions, interests, and opinions, which she had to observe. Following the French Revolution, she turned against everything she helped to create. When she died in 1796, her mentally challenged son Paul mounted the throne. In March 1801, he was duly assassinated by the nobility led by the Count of Bennigsen.
His son Alexander was the product of a mentaly ill father and the grandson of a nymphomaniac. Accordingly, throughout his reign, he exhibited all the signs of mental impediments. His contradictory foreign policies throughout the Napoleonic wars earned him the contempt of Europe. At home, he oscillated between two extremes: despotism and liberalism. At the end, he became the proverbial bull in the China shop at the Vienna Congress as well as in Russia. His death on December 1, 1825, triggered the Decembrist Revolution against his successor, Nicholas I. Antagonist of both the throne as well as his brother’s flirtation with Western ideas, Nicholas I became a dreaded despot and the sworn enemy of free thought and reforms both at home and abroad. His successors were as incompetent and occasionally mentally deranged as most of the Tsars after Peter the Great.
Repeatedly humiliated by crashing military defeats in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the dead Russian soldiers killed the living political elite. The misnamed Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was nothing but a desperate attempt to save Imperial Russia from itself. Led by an exiled anti-Tsarist demagogue Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, aka Lenin, who took full advantage of the disintegration of the monarchy during World War I, Russia was violently transformed into a terrorist state. Having wrapped himself and his movement into the ideological cloth of fuzzy Marxism, he laid the foundation with his hypocritical rhetoric to the future destruction of the Soviet Union through self-interested preaching of fallacious idealistic theories. Moreover, by mixing his views on class hatred with racism-stinged Pan Slavism, he established the future Soviet Union as a militaristic nation predisposed to unbending hostility, which stood in a state of perpetual war with the rest of the world. In the same vein, he instituted a degree of domestic terrorism that was unparalelled even under the despotism of Tsarist Russia. Finally, by promising a “new world order,” his thesis of “total war” destroyed humanistic values across the Red Army occupied lands, instead of bringing about the promised perfect world. Russia’s pseudo civilization was never about humanity. Essentially, international politics was divided between the Soviet Union cum Russia, and with few exceptions, the rest of the world.
No wonder that this bastard political fraud, which was further debased by the boundless terror of Stalinism, deflated any optimism regarding the future betterment of Soviet Communism cum Socialism. In 1991, the much glorified Soviet experiment ended in a catastrophic defeat and enormous global disarray following more than seven decades of obdurate refusal by the Kremlin to face reality. After a decade of chaotic interregnum, in April 2000, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin became the head of state with virtually unlimited powers. The legislature was made the obedient instrument of the President. So was the judiciary. The declared objective of the President to turn Russia internationally into a positive player in Europe and beyond and to build a democratic society at home, came to a crushing end first in Georgia in 2008 and then, in quick succession in Ukraine in 2014 and in 2022. The coming military defeat in Ukraine presages the future collapse of the Russian Federation too that points to a much deeper malaise, namely, the repeated failures to address the centuries-old conflict between Westernization and Pan Slavism in earnest. Putin’s restoration of Russia’s Asiatic despotism will remain, as in the past, incongruent with his efforts to unite Pan Slavism and Western values into a coherent set of political, economic, cultural and moral systems. Today, history again repeats itself. Freedom and Despotism, Individualism and Globalism are in a worldwide struggle for supremacy. To wit, in the middle of these proverbial red lines is the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
To state the truth as plainly as possible, President Putin is a mediocre product of this totalitarian and inhuman pseudo civilization cum culture. As by his countless predecessors, the question of right versus wrong has never entered his mind or his conscience. His miraculous epiphany from a cold blooded officer of the KGB stationed in the occupied eastern part of Germany to a deeply religious adherent of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose teachings represent a corrupted form of Christianity, attests to a morally and intellectually irredeemably corrupt character. Coupled with the corrupt, decadent and backward culture of the Russian Federation, he will never understand what democracy, individual freedom, opposition to despotism, and domestic as well as international principles of justice are all about. Moreover, having been led by the spirit of despotism throughout his professional career, he has never comprehended the distinction between elective leadership and coercive submission of his constituents. Finally, he has always been oblivious to the needs of the average Russian, because he has never respected the basic rules of justice and the most elementar values of human life.
While Russia’s history is replete with weak despots who appeared powerful on the surface, they all considered themselves to be the “Peter the Great” of a crooked course that attempted to combine reform and order. With the illegal invasion of Ukraine, President Putin has added to this fallacious domestic agenda the dictum of rebuilding Russia’s glory on the most extremely racist Pan Slavik tradition. In this sense, he has stated repeatedly that his Russia will be for or against the rest of the world according to his personal judgments and desires. His self-serving interpretation of history, in which his belief in a unifying policy of all Slavik people and beyond, supporting the creation of a Pan Slavik Empire out of a pot-pouri of “artificial” states such as Ukraine, has been bound to result in a catastrophically antagonistic foreign policy. This quest for the forced union of all Slavik nations as well as peoples has been designed from the beginning to destroy the existing international order that had triumphed over his predecessor Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin.
Thus, when NATO, the European Union and President Zelenskiyy rejected his ultimatums, President Putin began to execute the illegal invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine. On February 24, 2022, his military marched into Ukraine. After initial military successes and amid chaotic fighting, the Russian military advances have stalled. The reasons are many but one argument stands out. In President Putin’s sickly mind the fundamental concepts of his despotic regime at home closely correlate with his basic ideas of Russia’s current foreign policy. Thus, President Putin has a choice to make – either he repudiates Russia’s historical despotism at home with his ridiculous ambition for the violent unification of all Slavs, which includes usurpation of the political processes abroad and all of his outlandish territorial aggrandizements, or he will bring about his demise and the total destruction of the Russian Federation. In other words, unless his barbaric shenanigans of political folly at home and abroad end, he will surely fail in all of his objectives. History will remember him as a loser of epic proportions. For all of these reasons, enduring peace in Europe and beyond is impossible unless President Putin and his inner circle in the Kremlin does comprehend that employing exclusively military force to advance Russia’s political objectives is transitory, while the destructive nature of race-based Pan Slavism will live on indefinitely. For NATO, the European Union and the rest of the freedom loving states the strategy must be obvious. President Putin’s narrow-minded and racist empirical political folly must be decisively rejected. In order to stop once and for all the Russian military menace to the world, the rest of the world must be united, determined and free of biased visions. Such a steady resolve will guard the decision makers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean from being duped by President Putin’s lies and evil rhetoric or, in the alternative, becoming the victims of unexpected circumstances. Finally, this united front cannot be allowed to be choked by squabbles and internal contradictions. The status quo ante in Eastern Europe must be restored in its fullest. Nothing less would assure the lasting peace and stability of the world.
Even before the absolutely illegal and sickeningly barbaric invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China as well as his predecessors have done their utmost to crank up their country’s excessively ambitious territorial demands vis-a-vis their neighbors. Accordingly, waving the red flag of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” President Xi has indulged himself in gross historical falsifications and the threat of nuclear armageddon, if his vision of China’s civilizational superiority and great power status are not accepted unconditionally by the rest of the world. This outlandish behavior, combined with President Putin’s increasingly insane demeanor, requires an uncompromising and firm resolve of the world community.
Most importantly, the world in general and the United States of America as well as its allies in particular must internalize the lessons from not preempting President Putin’ war on Ukraine. Mindlessly rushing to Moscow and trying to dissuade him from taking a violent course of action without a clear strategy of absolute deterrence, including the credible threat of indirect military intervention on behalf of Ukraine by NATO, was doomed to abysmal failure from the beginning. Courting President Putin only gave the appearance both domestically as well as internationally that he is on the right side of history, namely, that his fallacious grievances and blatant lies about the internal conditions in Ukraine are well justified. Moreover, begging him to change his mind and to be rational only projected the West’s predicted Marxian softness and decadence vis-a-vis the overwhelmingly mighty Russian Despot. In reality, however, Putin’s despotism is a weak political construct. In its core, it is woefully incompetent and irredimably corrupt. Regrettably, the same mistakes are being committed in the West’s dealings with President Xi’s politically equally incompetent and economically precariously corrupt People’s Republic of China.
As Russia’s illegitimate war against Ukraine has stalled and President Putin’s badly trained military is reduced to barbaric terrorism against civilians, President Xi’s excessively praised military is also weaker by degrees from its official presentations by the self-serving narratives of the Chinese Communist Party bureaucrats. An effective military cannot be created, let alone maintained, unless its fundamental principles are rooted in the political, economic and moral stability of the government. Since the People’s Republic of China’s political system has been based on the despotic reign of a succession of ruthless manipulators, oppression has always been an instrument of power that has been unleashed uncontrollably rather than moderated by reason. In this context, President Xi, like Mao Zedong, abhors proven political and cultural principles of the pre-Communist era and has only used them for the sake of deception. Accordingly, neither of them has been a realist – they both have been illusionary visionaries. For men like these, nothing is more annoying than realists who try, albeit mostly unsuccessfully, to curb them.
The results have been political leaders who are no longer pragmatists, namely, politically sane individuals. In this manner, their underlings are nothing but useful idiots who have been tasked with fortifying the unrealistic illusionary visions of their Leader de jour. Thus, the Chinese military mess has always been closely related to the regime’s manifold problems. While Mao’s ragged “people’s army” has destroyed the existing as well as the old regimes and superimposed on their ruins the “Dictatorship of the Peasants and Workers,” it was incapable of establishing a stable and peaceful administration to replace them. The product of all these vague aspirations and unrealistic visions is the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Because of its badly defined functions within the Chinese version of Asiatic despotism, the People’s Liberation Army has been more a tool of domestic power struggle and oppression than a military designed to carry out offensive objectives. When it did in 1969 in the Sino-Soviet border war, against Vietnam in 1979 in response to Vietnam’s military actions against the rule of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge, and the ongoing China-India border hostilities in Pangong Lake, in Ladakh as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region between 2020-2022, the Chinese military has done rather poorly. Its ranks filled with the male products of Mao’s “one child policy,” those pampered boys’ mental strength and physical endurance could not match the discipline of their enemies.
The common denominator in Presidents Putin’s and Xi’s policies is the desire to destroy the present order of the world in the belief that their successive creation would be better and more equitable. Yet, by now it is abundantly clear that Russia has remained as backward as it has been for centuries and China’s economy has been in steady decline since 2013, when President Xi first ascended to the pinnacle of political and military power. The case in point is Mr. Liu Ho’s recent desperate plea to foreign investors to stay with their Chinese investments, because there is nothing wrong with the Chinese economy. Mr. Liu, who is the most influential economic advisor to President Xi, has promised major government actions to stimulate the economy to perform better. However, a large dose of skepticism is in order. The structural miseries of the Chinese command economy could only be solved by opening up the political system and by allowing both domestic and foreign businesses to operate under legally transparent conditions – without political pressures and the systematic as well as institutionalized Chinese corruption. Russia’s war on Ukraine has not been born out of the belligerence of NATO or the “Fascist” and “Genocidal” nature of President Zelenskyy’s administration. It has been born – like all the previous wars of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union – of the political, economic, financial, cultural and moral disorder which this troubled country has been subjected to from its very inception in the middle of the 16th century. The Chinese state in its present reincarnation is not different from President Putin’s self-engineered internal chaos and coming international catastrophe. The fate of Hong Kong, the future of Taiwan, the completely illegal expansion of China in the South China Sea and beyond and the ubiquitous corruption accompanying China’s expansion across the globe, should be sufficient reasons to establish an uncompromising strategy against its wholesale attempts at global destruction. If the anti-Russian and anti-Chinese coalitions remain strong, the world will be saved again from the monsters of evil despotisms.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech to Congress last week may not have been the Churchillian moment people had hoped for, but it got the job done. He asked for what his country needed, plainly, simply, and without folding into a grand discourse on the responsibilities of the world’s democracies to keep it safe from fascism as the late, great British leader might have.
Zelenskyy’s remarks showed him to be a most practical man, leading a country under siege. He should get all he asked for, all of it and more. He won’t, because the Biden administration fails to accept that his fight is our fight, whether we like it or not.
Some in Congress insist on shying away from that reality as well, going so far as to shamefully vote against suspending normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus as one more punishment for the aggressive war of national interest being waged against Ukraine.
Zelenskyy can see what far too many policymakers and influencers in the United States cannot. As he explained to Congress, the Russian attack on Ukraine “is a brutal offensive against our values, basic human values. It threw tanks and planes against our freedom, against our right to live freely in our own country, choosing our own future against our desire for happiness, against our national dreams, just like the same dreams you have, you Americans, just like anyone else in the United States.”
America has been called to the fight and must answer in the affirmative. Thus far, the Biden administration has been leading from the back, reluctant to place the United States in the center of the global stage where it belongs. To Zelenskyy’s requests, it responded with a firm, unforgivable “no.”
The sanctions were slow in coming and have not, contrary to what White House spokesman Jen Psaki’s boast crushed the Russian economy. The military aid most needed is blocked, by design and by bureaucratic inertia. Most importantly, because the national security establishment is more worried about what might come next if Putin were ousted, his country still has avenues available to trade with the rest of the world.
It doesn’t have to be that way. It wasn’t all that long ago when Democrats like Biden led a global effort to isolate a sovereign state over a domestic matter the rest of the civilized world considered an offense against God and man. How does the invasion of Ukraine not call for a boycott of Russia and its Balearian ally led by the United States any less vigorous than what America and the other freedom-loving peoples of the world did to bring the Republic of South Africa’s apartheid government to its knees? The time to wreck the Russian economy, to give an incentive for the Russian people to throw off their masters in pursuit of a genuine democratic system is at hand.
George Washington wisely warned against any involvement in messy foreign entanglements when America was a new nation needing time to find its feet. Wise advice at the time, it became increasingly dangerous as the nation grew in economic might and military power until isolationism proved very, very costly to overcome.
From Teddy Roosevelt to today, the United States has strutted boldly across the world stage, stealing the scene from every pretender to global leadership from the Kaiser to Stalin to Saddam Hussein.
We have expended American lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to defend the right of people to live free. This time that is not being asked of us. Zelenskyy and his people have shown they can and will fight. Some even say they are winning. Fear of what Putin might do if he’s backed into a corner cannot be allowed to be the determinant of U.S. policy. Fight now or fight later. That’s the choice.
We found that out in 1917. And in 1941.
And in 1950. And at other times when the fascists on the left and right threatened freedom. Today is not much different except Zelenskyy is asking only for the tools needed, as Churchill famously said so many years ago “So we may finish the job.”
It’s up to America to make sure he gets them.
As it is on the brink of retaking power in Congress, the conservative coalition needs to start asking tough questions about what it stands for and how it operates. It also needs to consider the easy ones, like what is and what is not acceptable and in which direction it wants to train its fire.
The introspection is necessary because of people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who represents Georgia’s 14th Congressional District and is so undisciplined in the political sense that when she launches barbs at progressives, she inevitably hits a few nominal ideological allies standing in between where she is on the fringe and where they the liberals are.
Ronald Reagan used to say something about a person who was with him 80 percent of the time not being his 20 percent enemy. It was a wise description, not just of political reality but of the way successful conservative politicians operate. Unlike the Democrats, who are a collection of interest groups that support one another in their efforts to divide the pie, the Gipper led a Republican Party that understood the need to assemble enough votes to win. That meant, as it often did in those days, the GOP needed to court members of the other party as they strolled down the pathway to victory.
In the decades since, the parties like the electorate have grown more polarized. This may be an argument for a strong backbone, but it isn’t an excuse for a big mouth. Greene, who can’t seem to say good morning without causing controversy, seems to believe this is a good way to advance conservative views. Believe me, it’s not.
It’s not just that she goes out of her way to be provocative. That’s sometimes necessary, as Newt Gingrich showed while waking the GOP House Conference up from a 40-year sleep. But provocation without purpose is unhelpful, especially for the other Republicans who are often called upon to respond to what she’s said or done.
The latest outrage was her vote Thursday when she – as one of only seven other members of the House did – voted against suspending normal U.S. trade relations with Russia and Belarus following their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. To her, it seems, America has more important issues to deal with – as she said later in a video posted online:
“If we truly care about suffering and death on our television screens, we cannot fund more of it by sending money and weaponry to Ukraine to fight a war they cannot possibly win,” she said. “The only effect, more arms and more money from America will be to prolong the war and magnify human suffering.”
She may think what she wants, but they conflict with the facts. The brave freedom fighters in Ukraine are holding on better than anyone expected. The Russian Army is performing like something sent by the Tsar rather than as a military force composed of super machines and supermen the world feared during the Soviet era. If she cannot see that Ukraine’s fight is America’s fight, at least so far as when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Congress the invasion was “a brutal offensive against our values” and “against our right to live freely in our own country… just like the same dreams you have, you Americans, just like anyone else in the United States,” then she has missed the whole point about what it means to stand for freedom and self-government.
There have been other incidents as well, too many in fact to contain them all in a single column that is still of readable length. The Democrats were wrong when they voted to strip her of her committee assignments over things she said before being elected to Congress, but that doesn’t make her a hero. Instead, it gave her more time to make mischief, leading her to become a congressional carbuncle, better known for the irritation she has caused than for anything she might have accomplished. Rather than being the brave and often lonely warrior standing for values like freedom against the machinations of the “deep state” she likes to portray herself as being, she has become an embarrassment as well as an impediment to the conservative cause.
There is a profound difference, as former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) explains in his newly released memoir “Leader,” between being a person of stature and a person of status. Greene no doubt thinks she is the former when she is most obviously the latter. She has what a journalist friend of mine likes to describe as being an adult form of ADD: she can’t stand it when people don’t pay attention to her.
If she’s serious about extending liberty and protecting freedom, she needs to start being serious about the business of legislating, of offering concrete ideas in the form of legislation that will reduce the burden and reach of the federal government, enhance personal freedom, make the nation stronger and allow us as a nation to proceed forward into the 21st century with our national head held high. If all she wants is attention, she should resign from Congress to start a podcast, get in the radio business or persuade someone to back her in launching a television show. That way, she’ll get the kind of influence she wants – and has – while someone who is interested in doing the job a Member of Congress is supposed to, can have her seat.
Having watched Democrat politicians aspiring to project the appearance of FDR-like progressive reformists into their domestic and foreign policies, a discerning person must necessarily hark back to the well known Bible story about the first couple’s removal from the heavenly paradise. Overwhelmed by the supposed cruelty of their Creator and feeling miserably alone, the Tempter Serpent promised them another way of creating their earthly paradise. Seemingly robbed of any other rational alternative, the mythical Adam and Eve followed the false deity. Tragically for their descendents, this earthly paradise still has not been found. What human history has produced thus far have been a series of undivine and tragic comedies, which have unfailingly ended up in the bottomless black holes of the reincarnated past.
While Presidents Putin and Xi have been busy undermining the domestic stability and international standing of the United States of America, America’s present duo of executive leaders, President Biden as well as Vice President Harris, have been laboring under establishing the perfectly equitable society at home and abroad, in which the pseudo-spiritual triumvirate of racial division, economic decline and energy dependence are the rule and not the exception. In this manner, they and their undemocratic party have presented the American people and the rest of the world with a closed political regime, in which the counterfactual idea of pacifistic-multicultural brotherhood of mankind does not correspond to the domestic and international realities.
Now, the “War in Ukraine” somehow has been linked by President Biden’s idiotic State of the Union Speech with his ruinous Build Back Better domestic political agenda. Rephrasing his essentially failed Marxist program to an equally fallaciously sounding Build a Better America, he blamed his predecessor for all the ills of America. Specifically, he has also blamed former President Trump for the Russian invasion and stated that the United States of America will not undertake any game-changer action to counter the illegal territorial grab by President Putin.
To add insult to injury, he assured the Iranian people that his sympathies lie with them and counterintuitively, he told the Ukranians that as far as he is concerned they do not deserve the same brotherly love as the Iranians do. Never mind that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a terrorist state that has threatened the peace and stability of the greater Middle East since 1979, President Biden agreed to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, to withdraw sanctions on Iranian terror masters as well as missile and WMD proliferators and ignore most of the nuclear safeguards. Moreover, when the deal is signed, and without congressional oversight, the Islamic Republic of Iran will automatically receive $90 billion in sanctions relief. Finally, Iran will receive at least $50-55 billion annually in the coming years from oil and gas sales because of the end of sanctions of its energy sector. In addition to enabling the Mullahcracy to build and acquire new and more sophisticated weapons, Tehran will be in the position to expand geostrategically with the help of Russia and China, threatening America’s allies, such as Israel, the GCC countries and beyond.
The upcoming deal will also entitle Russia and China to label Israel and its allies in the UN as aggressors, if they decide to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear bombs. More importantly, the American delegation in Vienna lacks any coherent strategy. Led by Robert Malley, who is well known for his extremist pro-Iran views, has also surrendered the conduct of negotiations between the White House and Tehran to the Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov by appointing him a “mediator” between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As far as President Biden’s pseudo-foreign policy is concerned, it is an insolvable contradiction between being restricted by the requirements of individual freedom and national liberty on the one hand, and the Marxist destruction of the natural relationships of societies, states as well as alliances under the banner of absolute equality and multiculturalism that, in turn, fatally atomizes the world at large, on the other. Instead of American exceptionalism, President Biden has adopted the Marxist cum Bolshevik idea of international relations, in which the contradictory compromise between state centralism and the romantic but unworkable Slavic notion of the primitive Mir communities coalesce. The right to national sovereignty and free agency in international relations have been replaced by the naked despotism of the rulers’ de jour. Russia’s war on Ukraine and President Putin’s uncompromising inhumanity are the newest examples of President Biden’s anti-factual and antisocial psychopathology.
His responses to Russia’s wholesale invasion of Ukraine have also mirrored his demented mind’s sick ideas that do not correspond to the realities of the raging war. While President Putin has initially played the enlightened and Westernized Russian leader, domestically he has instituted cruel repression. When he gave his now infamous speech at the Munich Security Conference on February 10, 2007, President Putin stated: “NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernization of the Alliance itself, or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust.” Then came an ominous warning: “No one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them,” meaning the United States of America and its allies. Finally, he intoned thus: “I consider the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world…. Russia is a country with a history that spans more than a thousand years and has practically always used the privilege to carry out an independent foreign policy.”
For all practical purposes, President Putin’s speech was a declaration of war mainly on the United States of America. The response of the Obama Administration, in which President Biden was the Vice President, was “reset,” represented by the language handicapped Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose qualifications for the job did not go beyond having been married to a former president. Naturally, the “reset’ was the product of totally incompetent minds. President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton did not grasp that for President Putin the end of the cold war that was preceded by the collapse of the Soviet Union was an unacceptable occurrence, and a monster that must be defeated at any cost.
Driven by hatred and fear of the monster, he has begun a ferocious persecution of all former Soviet republics. Up until the invasion of Ukraine, President Putin’s entire foreign policy seemed to be a perpetual preparation for the decisive military confrontation with the West. On March 16, 2022, addressing his cabinet, President Putin compared the West to Nazi Germany, declaring that they have been banding together against Russia the same way Nazi Germany did in the 1930s. In the same vein he has said that Russians must “protect themselves from the Western fifth column.”
To wit, neither President Obama nor President Biden has understood that President Putin does not aspire to becoming a democratic leader. The republican form of government with its democratic structures and individual liberty are completely foreign to his whole upbringing, professional background and limited intellect. All these were committed to the sphere of influence of the devilish West.
Thus, instead of responding in kind and defining his own red line, President Biden has never understood the significance of the internal psychology of the fall of the Soviet Union within Russia. In spite of the superficial mimicking of certain Western phenomena, Russia has remained despotic and backward, and thus differing radically in her political culture and institutions from the West, and has been separated from Europe by Ukraine. Corresponding to this untenable situation, is the condition of the Russian economy and its finances. Instead of a lengthy analysis, suffice it to say that Russia’s GDP in 2020 fell from $1,687.45 billion to $1,483.50 billion – a drop of 12.09%. Inflation, unemployment and national debt have risen correspondingly. 2021 and 2022 have been even more disastrous.
With the wholesale invasion of Ukraine, Russia will be bankrupt very soon. Thus, sanctions are the correct measures. However, more needs to be done. President Putin must be presented with an ultimatum – withdraw immediately or face the full might of NATO. President Putin must understand that might does not make right under international law. Moreover, no peace without a complete withdrawal from all the territories seized by Russia since 1992 from Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, including Crimea. Finally, complete reparations must be paid by Russia for all the war damages that it caused to those states. To acknowledge these demands is the precondition for Russia’s readmission to the community of nations. Otherwise, the two principles of sovereignty and self-determination would be sacrificed on the altar of Russia’s military despotism.
The same fallacious notion of “equity” is the driving force behind President Biden’s China policy. In his demented mind, the international dominance of the United States of America must be brought down and ultimately depressed for the sake of not frightening the People’s Republic of China, which might render the latter more aggressive. It must be so because historically America has claimed to be exceptional and, therefore, has behaved arrogantly toward the rest of the world. Only through the cooperation of America and China could the world tame anarchy and chaos and permanently avoid a nuclear catastrophe. According to him, passivity and pacifism are the only solutions for America to survive. In reality, however, his impotent foreign policy would result in the total collapse of Western civilization. Weakness would invite aggression and unopposed aggression would lead to regression as well as global decomposition of the smaller states. The end result of such a “progression” would be the end of mankind as the world has known it.
It will take years for the consequences of 24 February to play out, but there is still much the west can do to help Ukrainians
By The Guardian•
Why do we always make the same mistake? Oh, that’s only trouble in the Balkans, we say – and then an assassination in Sarajevo sparks the first world war. Oh, Adolf Hitler’s threat to Czechoslovakia is “a quarrel in a faraway country, between people of whom we know nothing” – and then we find ourselves in the second world war. Oh, Joseph Stalin’s takeover of distant Poland after 1945 is none of our business – and soon enough we have the cold war. Now we have done it again, not waking up until it is too late to the full implications of Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea in 2014. And so, on Thursday 24 February 2022, we stand here again, clothed in nothing but the shreds of our lost illusions.
At such moments we need courage and resolution but also wisdom. That includes care in our use of words. This is not the third world war. It is, however, already something much more serious than the Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. The five wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s were terrible, but the larger international dangers that flowed from them were not on this scale. There were brave resistance fighters in Budapest in 1956, but in Ukraine today we have an entire independent, sovereign state with a large army and a people who declare themselves determined to resist. If they don’t resist, at scale, this will be an occupation. If they do, this could be the largest war in Europe since 1945.
Against them is arrayed the overwhelming force of one of the strongest military powers in the world, with well-trained and equipped conventional forces and some 6,000 nuclear weapons. Russia is now the world’s largest rogue state. It is commanded by a president who, to judge from his hysterical rants this week, has departed the realm of rational calculation – as isolated dictators tend to do, sooner or later. To be clear: when, in his declaration of war on Thursday morning, he threatened anyone “who tries to stand in our way” with “consequences you have never encountered in your history”, he was threatening us with nuclear war.
There will be a time to reflect on all our past mistakes. If, starting in 2014, we had got serious about helping to build up Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself, reduced European energy dependence on Russia, purged the sewage lakes of Russian dirty money swilling around London and imposed more sanctions on the Putin regime, we might be in a better place. But we have to start from where we are.
In the early fog of a war that is just beginning, I see four things Europe and the rest of the west need to do. First, we need to secure the defence of every inch of Nato territory, especially at its eastern frontiers with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, against all possible forms of attack, including cyber and hybrid ones. For 70 years, the security of west European countries including Britain has ultimately depended on the credibility of the “one for all and all for one” promise of article 5 of the Nato treaty. Like it or not, the longtime security of London is now inextricably intertwined with that of the Estonian city of Narva; that of Berlin with Białystok in Poland; that of Rome with that of Cluj-Napoca in Romania.
Second, we have to offer all the support that we can to the Ukrainians, short of breaching the threshold that would bring the west into a direct war with Russia. Those Ukrainians who choose to stay and to resist will be fighting by military and civilian means to defend the freedom of their country, as they have every possible right in law and conscience to do, and as we would do for our own countries. Inevitably, the limited scope of our response will lead to bitter disappointment among them. Emails from Ukrainian friends speak, for example, of the west imposing a no-fly zone, denying Ukrainian airspace to Russian planes. Nato is not going to do that. Like the Czechs in 1938, like the Poles in 1945, like Hungarians in 1956, Ukrainians will say: “You, our fellow Europeans, have abandoned us.”
But there are still things we can do. We can continue to supply weapons, communications and other equipment to those who are entirely legitimately resisting armed force with armed force. As important in the medium term, we can help those who will be using the well-tried techniques of civil resistance against a Russian occupation and any attempt to impose a puppet government. We must also stand ready to assist the many Ukrainians who will flee westward.
Third, the sanctions we impose on Russia should go beyond what has already been prepared. Beside comprehensive economic measures, there should be expulsions of Russians in any way connected with the Putin regime. Putin, with his war chest of more than $600bn, and his hand on the gas tap to Europe, has prepared for this, so sanctions will take time to have their full effect.
In the end, it will have to be the Russians themselves who turn round and say: “Enough. Not in our name.” Many of them, including the Nobel prizewinner Dmitry Muratov, already express their horror at this war. Likewise, the Ukrainian journalist Nataliya Gumanyuk has written movingly of a Russian journalist crying on the telephone with her as the Russian tanks moved in. That horror will only increase when the corpses of young Russian men return in body bags – and as the full economic and reputational impact becomes apparent at home in Russia. Russians will be the first and last victims of Vladimir Putin.
That brings me to a final, vital point: we must be prepared for a long struggle. It will take years, probably decades, for all the consequences of 24 February to be played out. In the short term, the prospects for Ukraine are desperately bleak. But I think at this moment of the wonderful title of a book about the Hungarian revolution of 1956: Victory of a Defeat. Almost everyone in the west has now woken up to the fact that Ukraine is a European country being attacked and dismembered by a dictator. Kyiv today is a city full of journalists from all over the world. This experience will shape their views of Ukraine for ever. We had forgotten, in the years of our post-cold war illusions, that this is how nations write themselves on to the mental map of Europe: in blood, sweat and tears.
The confusion over providing fighter jets to Ukraine underscores a dangerous reality: NATO has no end-game and no off-ramps for this war.
A remarkable exchange took place earlier this week between the United States and Poland, which shares a long border with Ukraine and likely would be first to get hit by Russian forces if the war expands beyond Ukrainian territory. The exchange was not only embarrassing, highlighting the U.S. State Department’s incompetence, but it underscores what can only be described as a complete absence of strategy among the NATO allies, which appear to have no end-game and no off-ramps in mind for Ukraine and Russia.
Here’s what happened. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Sunday that Poland has a “green light” to provide fighter jets to the Ukrainian air force, adding that the U.S. was working with Poland to find a way to replace MiG-29 jets (which Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly and fight) that might be sent to Ukraine with American F-16s.https://d26db64193801a286bbefe4cc520e1de.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
News quickly spread on Monday that the U.S. and Poland had reached such a deal, and that dozens of Polish MiG-29s were in fact going to supplement Ukraine’s war effort. If true, that would have been a shocking escalation on the part of NATO. It’s easy to see how Russia could then claim that Poland, by putting its own warplanes in the fight, was now a belligerent in the conflict, and then justify expanding the war into Eastern Europe.
But it wasn’t true — not quite. Poland, acutely aware of what Moscow’s likely response would be if dozens of Polish warplanes flown by Ukrainian pilots crossed from Poland into Ukraine and started hitting Russian targets, issued a curious statement on Tuesday. The Polish Foreign Ministry said it was ready to deploy, free of charge, all their MiG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, “and place them at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America.”
The statement went on to request that the U.S. “provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes. The Polish Government also requests other NATO Allies — owners of MIG-29 jets — to act in the same vein.”
This move by Poland apparently caught the U.S. State Department completely off-guard. Later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby responded to the Polish proposal, which he said, “shows just some of the complexities this issue presents.”
The prospect of fighter jets “at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America” departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance. It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it. We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one.
What can we conclude from this bizarre back-and-forth? First, that Blinken’s “green light” comment Sunday was made without consulting Poland or our other NATO allies. Second, that Poland’s statement Tuesday was a not-too-subtle attempt to shift the responsibility for the entire scheme to the United States. Essentially, Poland was saying that if the U.S. government wants to aide Ukraine by giving it warplanes, Poland would not be the one to transfer or even facilitate the transfer of those aircraft onto the battlefield. They would have to come from a U.S. air base, not Poland.
Lastly, the U.S. response reveals that despite Blinken’s reckless comment, the U.S. has not thought seriously about how any of this would work, and what might or might not give Moscow a casus belli to attack Polish or NATO targets in Eastern Europe.
In other words, there is no NATO strategy, either to assist Ukraine in a way that would turn the tide of the war or to imagine an end-game that’s something less than a total Russian defeat. Last week, Blinken articulated what can best be described as a maximalist policy for the war: “We have to sustain this until it stops, until the war is over, Russian forces leave, the Ukrainian people regain their independence, their sovereignty, their territorial integrity. We’re committed to doing that.”
So the apparent position of the U.S. government is that it must help Ukraine to bring about a complete humiliating Russian withdrawal, something like the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 — or the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, for that matter. If the NATO allies are worried that Russia will widen the war over a couple dozen Polish MiG-29s, what do they think the Kremlin will do to avoid the kind of defeat that Blinken has laid out? Have they thought about the possibility that Russia would use tactical nuclear weapons to avoid that kind of defeat? It sure doesn’t seem like it.
Setting all that aside, though, the U.S. and our NATO allies have just demonstrated to Russia and the entire world that we have no plan to provide Ukraine with warplanes, let alone tanks or troops or other advanced weapon systems. The NATO allies obviously don’t even agree on how that might be done in theory, and they apparently are not talking to one another about it behind closed doors but issuing embarrassing and contradictory statements in public.
As my colleague Eddie Scarry notes, all of this blows up the polite fiction that President Joe Biden is providing strong NATO leadership, and that the alliance is solid and united in confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It also blows up the notion, increasingly popular among neocons in the corporate press and in Washington, that NATO is able to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine and can be pressured into doing so. If the Poles won’t even allow its MiG-29s to be transferred to Ukraine via Polish airspace, why would they agree to send sorties out from Poland to engage and shoot down Russian warplanes? Why would smaller NATO allies in the Baltics?
They won’t — and they shouldn’t, because doing so would be an act of war that would pull the entire NATO alliance into an armed conflict with Russia. Likewise, funneling warplanes and other heavy weapons into Ukraine will bring NATO right up to and arguably well past the line of belligerence. To paraphrase the Pentagon, the proposal is not a tenable one.
Half measures won't save Ukraine or restore American deterrence
The strongest part of President Biden’s State of the Union address was the section on the war in Ukraine. Biden condemned the Russian invasion. He welcomed the Ukrainian ambassador. He led Congress in a statement of solidarity with the Ukrainian people in their fight against the Russian aggressor. He announced that the United States was closing its airspace to Russian planes, cutting off Russia from the international financial system, penalizing the Russian central bank, sanctioning the Russian government and its leadership, and targeting Russian oligarchs. He made it clear whose side the United States is on. “Together with our allies,” Biden said, “we are providing support to the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom. Military assistance. Economic assistance. Humanitarian assistance.”
All good. All sensible. And not nearly enough. Defeating Russia in Ukraine and restoring American deterrence will require much more than Biden has announced so far. The State of the Union was a chance for Biden to explain the nature of the threat, the stakes for America, his plan for rolling back Putin’s offensive, his strategy for American revival, and the potential costs to American citizens. He ducked the hard questions. He relied on bromides. He left the impression that the road ahead will be relatively painless, and that victory is assured. It isn’t.
“Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Iranian people,” Biden said. He meant to say the “Ukrainian people.” A laudable sentiment. And a misleading one. What does it matter to Putin if he gains the “hearts and souls” of Ukrainians? He doesn’t want their love. He desires their territory. And he won’t just encircle Kyiv with tanks. He will level it. Biden could have warned America and the world about the sorts of horrible images already being broadcast from Ukraine. He could have explained why the misery will grow worse long before it subsides. He could have steeled the nation’s spine for the uncertain years ahead. He chose not to.
“Freedom will always triumph over tyranny,” Biden said. Another lovely idea that crumbles under scrutiny. Ask the North Koreans or the Cubans or the Venezuelans or the Iranians or the Chinese or, for that matter, the Russians if freedom always triumphs over tyranny. The tragic fact of the matter is that freedom is rare. Authoritarians are resilient. Biden left out the element essential to freedom’s victory. Freedom requires more than will. It requires force. And in today’s world of proliferating dangers, the only nation with the power to shield freedom from its enemies is the United States.
I’m not talking about the power of our example. I mean the military and strategic assets at our disposal. These elements of national power are the foundation for a world of democracies. But they have atrophied. America’s armed forces labor under budget constraints. America’s nuclear deterrent requires modernization. America’s research and development has withered, and American energy has been constricted. America’s alliances are force multipliers that Biden has leveraged well against Russia. They can only get us so far, however. In the end, it will be American will and American might that guarantee international security in Europe, East Asia, and the Greater Middle East. Every minute spent evading this reality is wasted.
Which is why Biden’s easy confidence in the eventual victory of freedom over oppression troubles me. Take the defense budget. Biden mentioned the Department of Defense a single time—in reference to his plan to “end cancer as we know it.” He spent an hour calling on Congress to pass legislation that has failed already. Not once did he ask Congress to pass the defense appropriations bill. Nor did he ask for more to be spent on defense in this global emergency. America spent an average of 7 percent of gross domestic product on our military during the first Cold War. Now we spend about 3 percent. To win a Second Cold War against an expansionist Russia and a belligerent China, we must spend more. Failure to do so isn’t just unserious. It’s reckless.
Biden’s energy plan was similarly troubling. He announced the release of strategic petroleum reserves to tamp down the rising cost of oil and gasoline. The problem with reserves, though, is that they eventually run out. How will we replenish them? Biden left no clue. He wants to provide “investments and tax credits to weatherize your homes and businesses to be energy efficient.” He wants to “double America’s clean energy production in solar, wind, and so much more.” He wants electric vehicles to be cheaper. He’s deluding himself. The words “drill,” “natural gas,” and “nuclear” never passed his lips. He won’t ban Russian oil imports—meaning that we continue to fund the butchers of Ukraine. The American energy sector is the key to national independence, freedom of action on the world stage, and long-term weaning of Europe from dependence on Russian energy. You wouldn’t know that from listening to Biden.
But you would get the impression that the president is averse to conflict. “Let me be clear,” he said, “our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.” The reinforcements he’s deployed to Europe are there to defend NATO if Putin turns against the Baltic States, Poland, or Romania. America will send weapons to Ukraine, but otherwise the Ukrainians are on their own. This message doesn’t inspire confidence. It gives Putin a green light to conduct the war on his terms. The best way to prevent the expansion of the war is to make Putin second-guess his actions. How? Not by continually reminding him of what you won’t do. You deter Putin by forcing him to consider what you might do.
The State of the Union contained nothing that might stop Putin from continuing his assault. Biden’s silence about the American withdrawal from Afghanistan was telling. He said the word “Afghanistan” just twice, in a section devoted to spending more resources on American veterans. I’m all for spending money to help the troops—active duty as well as reserve and retired. But the 13 servicemen killed as America retreated from a land that we protected for two decades deserved better. The Afghans themselves deserved a mention, as well, especially the ones we have welcomed to America. Their absence was odd.
The whole speech was odd. It lacked the seriousness required during a national trial. Its logic was nonsensical: Biden argued with a straight face, for instance, that protectionism somehow will reduce inflation. His policy proposals either had nothing to do with, or will actively undermine, national priorities such as reducing inflation, securing the southern border, and reestablishing a peaceful world through military strength. “We are stronger today than we were a year ago,” Biden concluded. It’s pleasant to think so. But that doesn’t mean it’s true.