Reflections on the Ukrainian Crisis
I’ve been trying to bottle up my opinions on the Ukraine Invasion, as social media turns into a toxic cesspool of Rah Trump, Let’s go Brandon, or If you don’t love Joe Biden, you are a part of Agent Orange’s Red Neck Fan Club.
The problem is Biden’s and indeed the West’s response to the crisis is woefully inadequate.
Biden, Johnson, the EU and NATO are responding with economic sanctions, which would have been fine as a deterrent two weeks ago. The problem is Ukraine is in serious trouble. Military bases are falling, cities are being bombed. Women and children are fleeing into Hungary, Moldova, and Poland, while any boy or man capable of holding a gun is being pressed into service. Citizens in Kyiv are preparing for a valiant but ultimately futile Last Stand to defend their sovereignty and homeland. Facebook and Instagram are flooded with blue and yellow support banners, and messages such as I stand with Ukraine or Prayers for Ukraine. Ukraine doesn’t need people trolling for likes on Facebook, and unless your prayers come with a squadron of F-18 Hornets or a missile defense system, they aren’t going to do shit. Ukraine needs military aid and serious action not Thoughts and Prayers.
The other thing that gets my blood boiling is the Trump Supporters saying If Trump was still president, Putin wouldn’t have the balls to try this. All I have to say to that is: Were you paying attention at all during his presidency? Trump had a hard-on for Putin. Putin was the strongman Trump wishes he was. Trump was a guy that didn’t want military intervention period and spent his presidency mocking our allies and looking to defund NATO. He praised the breakup of the EU. He spent his presidency trying to pull the US out of world affairs leaving France and Germany to step up. To say Putin wouldn’t try this shit under The Donald is fanboy Bullshit. Putin would have not only marched into Ukraine but Trump would be praising him on Twitter. I can already see the tweet:
Congratulations to @VladimirPutin. He showed true leadership dealing with an unfriendly neighbor. Maybe @JustinTrudeau should take notice." #makeukrainerussiaagain #makerussiagreatagain #winning
The problem is Putin has called the West’s bluff. He did it with Obama with the Crimea Crisis in 2014, and managed to get away with a tongue lashing but no real damage. Essentially Obama pulled a Neville Chamberlain, You have seized part of a sovereign nation. We don’t like that and we really won’t do anything about it but let me be clear, if you try this kind of thing again there will be consequences, more stern words, and finger wagging, and may be just maybe I might freeze some assets.
Putin is able to act with the knowledge that the West does not desire a Hot War with Russia. Since 1948 when the Soviet Union showed it had the bomb, the West engaged in a policy of deterrence. Stockpiling nuclear arsenals, ramping up troop numbers and military spending, constantly drilling for the day the Soviets might push us into a third world war but hoping it would never come to that.
In 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, and Russia took on a somewhat democratic government there was hope. In those Yeltsin years, there was hope that the Russia may become a Western Style Republic, that there would be a thaw in East-West Relations. But those hopes quickly faded. With Putin’s rise to power and dictatorship, The Russian Federation is a case of Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Putin, a patriotic Russian, seeks the territorial borders of the Soviet Union and former Russian Empire. He seeks to control Eastern Europe like a Tsar of old. Unlike the last Premiers of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin, and Tsar Nicholas, he is smart and calculating. He knows that the West is more afraid of his nuclear arsenal and him than he is of them. Where the West may talk the talk of being tough, they are hesitant to walk the walk.
The United States has elected weak or incompetent leadership over the past thirty years. In Putin’s 22 years of power he has had to deal with George W. Bush (Who was more focused on the Middle East than anything else), Barrack Obama (Who was elected as an anti-war president), Donald Trump (Who did more to undermine NATO and the EU in his four years in power than Putin could have ever dreamed of), and Joe Biden (Who has very little stomach for armed conflict). Unlike Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev who had to deal with fairly competent Cold War Presidents with teeth, such as Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Reagan, Putin has had very light resistance from the US.
The West has spent the past fifty years working on business and trade deals. We have spent so much time and energy in the search for more money, new markets, and cheaper labor, that we have turned a blind eye to human rights, quality of life, and quality of government. We claim to hold the ideas of democracy, freedom, high standards of living, and human decency as our core values. But if we look at our actions, we will gladly buy gas from a dictator, we will buy oil from a militant theocracy that tortures its political opposition, we will open factories in countries that will make labor activists disappear if they protest brutal conditions and their slave labor pay, we will welcome billionaire oligarchs to our shores with open arms as they build mansions and throw their money around for entertainment but we will close the borders to people fleeing the brutality of the governments they support or the toxic conditions they created.
The Ukrainian conflict is much deeper than a sovereign nation fighting for its life, it is an indictment on the Western Soul. We talk about economic sanctions. We treat money as if it is the be all end all. Putin doesn’t give a shit about money. He wants power, he wants territory, he wants to be remembered as Vladimir the Great, Restorer of the Empire. He wants to be the strong man of old and prove that the might of one man is the right. He is willing to sacrifice for this ideal. But we in the West, are we willing to put our money, toil, sweat, tears, and blood where our mouths are? Are we willing to stand for our ideals? Are we willing to stand for our allies? Or have we become the nations of shopkeepers and stockbrokers with no stomach for sacrifice? Have we become the lions without teeth? Have we become the pushovers, that men like Vladimir Putin are counting on? The people who offer, what Shakespeare called, The tale of an idiot. Lots of sound and fury signifying nothing.
God Help Ukraine.
Because it is clear no one else will.