What is Really Happening in Ukraine?

There are so many differing views on Ukraine: what it means, what we should do or not do about it, what will happen next? The one-channel media, has its slanted take, of course. They were very excited to hear President Biden talk of deposing Vladimir Putin: “This man cannot remain in power”, the president implored us all last weekend. Finally, the media had found something to cheer him for; they told us: here is an American leader who traveled to Europe and made a historic foreign policy speech, similar to John F. Kennedy in 1961 who said during the Berlin Airlift: “I am a Berliner” and Ronald Reagan who in 1987, also in Berlin, demanded that “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!”. Just as his party most needed him, Biden had found his moment, the moment to shift focus from his disastrous policies, and once again unite the country behind him as he brings freedom back to Ukraine and solves one of our biggest foreign policy problems. Or maybe not?

Biden-This-man-cannot-remain-in-power

Unfortunately, the president complicated a diplomatic end to this war. It is true that Putin has justified his actions in Ukraine by talking of NATO imperialism, NATO’s desire to remove him from power, and its threatening of Russia’s national interests, all false claims. Since its establishment after World War II, NATO has, in fact, been a defensive organization which kept the peace in Europe for almost eighty years (with very few exceptions). Without NATO, Europe would likely have seen more wars of this type sooner. President Biden himself made these very points earlier during his trip. The president correctly stated that Putin is lying about NATO and its intentions. Putin’s actual goal is territorial ambition, pure and simple. NATO’s courting of Ukraine was intended to be a response to the very real threat from Russia. Unfortunately, after making these true remarks, President Biden told the world that Putin needs to be deposed. The two statements are incongruent. Which is our policy, sir? Depose Putin or stay out of Russian internal politics? Do you realize how quickly Vladimir Putin uses your remark to further justify his actions in Ukraine and how much more support it buys him back home? The president made Putin’s claims seem justified. It’s not smart politics.

The White House quickly walked back the president’s statement, making the ridiculous explanation that what the president really meant was that “we should remove Putin from power in Ukraine, not in Russia”. Does anyone believe that cobbled together explanation?

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-28/biden-says-putin-remark-reflected-his-outrage-not-policy-change

Here is what I know: we have a dementia patient running the country and every once in a while he believes he is really the one in control, so he diverges from the script his handlers have directed him to follow. His first year in power was a total disaster and now we have the largest war in Europe since the end of WWII. The president is dangerously incompetent, literally lost-in-space, and could blunder us into a more serious conflict. The one-channel media which was all flutter about his statesmanship before his comments were walked back, doesn’t know how to respond next. You mean he is not a statesman after all?

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-28/biden-says-putin-remark-reflected-his-outrage-not-policy-change

“We shouldn’t escalate, with words or actions,” French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been a conduit to Putin, said on French television. U.K. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, the cabinet member appearing on this week’s British morning shows, said Putin’s future should be “up to the Russian people.” 

This demonstrates our media is as much of the source of our problems as anyone else. Our politicians are supposed to be held accountable by a free press, but a significant portion of the media, the one-channel media, roots too much for one side. They make any excuse for their favorites and so their favorites believe they have impunity, limiting the much needed checks on their actions. I am incredulous that 40% of the American public still has a favorable opinion of the job Biden is doing. If we had an honest press, that number would be cut in half.

We have grown accustomed to politicians slanting events in a light favorable to themselves, but national security is something else. I want to trust our president when he addresses national security, whether he be the one I voted for or not. I don’t want to wonder if he is telling us the truth about this war or if he even has any idea what the truth is.

I had a friend who said our biggest problem was President Trump and all his lies. Some zealous media outlet had documented more than 20,000 Trump lies, my friend told me (which means he lied to us on average 14 times a day during his four years in office. Really?). I am keeping track of this new president’s lies along with gaffes and missteps: the election, January 6, COVID, Afghanistan, inflation (it was supposed to be temporary), voting laws, etc. Actually, it is hard to tell which are lies and which are ones he truly believes in his reduced mental state. The president’s lack of mental clarity is becoming ever more consequential and dangerous. We need someone competent, whether a Republican or a Democrat, someone with energy and clearness of mind, to guide us through tricky waters. Despite Nancy Pelosi’s ringing endorsement (he is the right man at just the right time), Biden just isn’t up to the job. His VP is less popular than him and his party doesn’t want him to step down just before the mid-terms, but for the sake of the country, a change is needed now.

How Did We Get Here?

My father served as a battalion commander during the Vietnam War (1966-67) and he returned again to Saigon at the end of the war. He insisted we could have won that war; he blamed political leadership and their silly policies implemented from on high, such as our rules of engagement which prevented our troops from even adequately defending themselves. He told his “kids” if something unknown moved at night, it was probably a bad guy, so take him out. “I told them,” he said, “if there were any questions afterward I would take the blame. I told them told to do it, so it was my responsibility.” It raised morale 100%, he told me.

But there weren’t enough like my father to cut through the nonsense. We lost that war and the U.S. military was in terrible shape in the mid 1970’s. The draft army was not well supported at home. Many of the soldiers didn’t want to do what they were told. They didn’t care. My dad spent his last few years helping to rebuild that fallen army. He and his colleagues were successful. Roughly fifteen years later, an all-volunteer American military destroyed Sadaam Hussein’s army and conquered the entire country of Iraq in four days. The humiliating defeat in Vietnam was completely wiped away. During the leadup to that war, our media told us about Iraq’s vaunted military, the fourth-largest in the world at that time. They fell like test dummies. The American military had become an unparalleled military force that no other country in the world could reckon with.

The Iraq victory in 1991 was one of the most remarkable events of my lifetime. My dad said we lost more troops during a training exercise of that size than we lost in the entire war. The U.S. became the world’s policeman because everyone recognized our capabilities, but that role also came with many benefits as most everyone in the world aligned with us, sought our protection, sought to trade with us, and invested in our country when times were difficult around the world. Our relatively few enemies also feared and respected us. A dozen years later, the U.S. overthrew the Taliban and then defeated the Iraqis again. The world was a safer and more peaceful place because of the power we demonstrated and the respect we gained from our enemies.

Similar scenarios have played out throughout our history. After World War I, we demobilized too quickly and we were unprepared for the next war twenty years later. Yet, we rebuilt the military, the entire country sacrificed in absolutely remarkable ways (it was truly the greatest generation), leading the way for America to became the world’s dominant military and economic power, unlike any in history.

What has happened to the military since we showed the world our incredible military might? Are there more parallels in the last twenty years? Is history repeating and rhyming again? You could say we were bogged down in Afghanistan and needed to get out, but we managed to keep the peace for the last several years. With a mere 2,500 troops in that country (and no loss of life for the last 18 months of the war) we kept the Taliban at bay and provided a level of security to millions of Afghans. The Russians lost more troops in two weeks in Ukraine than the U.S. lost in twenty years in Afghanistan. We may have been stuck in Afghanistan, but we were not unsuccessful. Millions of Afghans recognized and appreciated what the U.S. had provided the country in the prior twenty years. Read the “The Kite Runner” by a native Afghani if you want to know how much the Taliban is hated in Afghanistan itself.

But then last year we gave Afghanistan away–and for nothing. We abandoned our ally and destroyed our reputation. We left behind hundreds of Americans, along with our friends in the country; millions of Afghan women and children are now suffering horribly under the rule of the evil Taliban regime. Freedom was lost–and for what gain? We left behind billions in military equipment, an intelligence treasure trove for our enemies. We abandoned a military airfield with great strategic value–and simply gave it to our enemies. We could have at least stayed in Bagram as we have done for sixty years in Gitmo. Why did we do all this? Why did Biden think this withdrawal was in his political interest? This disastrous event was the fulcrum on which the Biden administration’s policy began to unravel.

Our military, which has become increasingly political and increasingly “woke” was still feared and respected by the Taliban in 2021. Once again, our military didn’t lose the Afghan war, just as they didn’t lose the Vietnam war. Our political leaders gave away our immense advantage; they simply lacked the will to act. The Russians, the Chinese, and our other enemies took note last year. There is a definite connection between our Afghanistan withdrawal and the war in Ukraine which followed it closely. When our enemies see weakness, they attack. They don’t want to be our friends and don’t want to be more like us so they can provide “stuff” to their people; they don’t buy votes the way our political leaders do. The world is not as safe of a place today as it has been the last thirty years, and that’s because we have given to our enemies what they could not have possibly achieved themselves.

What is Our National Interest?

The real question that so many are asking now is: what we should do in Ukraine and why? First, we should stay out of a direct confrontation with the Russians unless compelled to do so. There is no need to risk escalating this war–especially since Russia is still a nuclear power and Ukraine is still very far away from home. However, we should not remain isolationist; we should support the Ukrainians, degrade the Russian military, gain intelligence about Russian weapons, re-exert our world influence, and most importantly assist and defend a people that were unjustly attacked and have suffered horribly. We can do that all of that effectively without sending our military into a direct confrontation with Russia. Putin fully realizes an attack on the U.S. or our NATO allies would be exceptionally rash at this point, and we need to once again make clear our willingness to meet that threat. Putin and his cronies need to be deterred from any further escalation.

It is also in our national interest to work for a negotiated settlement in Ukraine. The longer the war goes on, the more the horrible cost on the people of Ukraine, the more the negative impacts on the world economy, including potential world-wide food shortages (Ukraine supplies a quarter of the world’s wheat), the more loss of American credibility (through our inability to affect change), and the more risk of an escalation into a larger and more consequential war (one which could possibly include others like China, North Korea, or Iran who will align with the Russians). We can’t stand aside as the consequences of this continued war are substantial.

What Are the Problems?

The Biden administration, Europe, and NATO have taken many positive steps to support Ukraine and bring pressure to bear on Russia. However, this war should also shock us back into more oil production to eliminate our (and more importantly, our allies) dependency on oil from Russia (along with Iran, Venezuela, and other un-friendlies). Instead, many in our government appear to be beholden to Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who long ago exhausted her fifteen minutes of fame. This self-flagellation greatly limits our leverage over our enemies. Simply announcing a change in energy policy, relaxing restrictions on new energy production and restarting the Keystone pipeline would have a major downward impact on the price of oil today, even before one additional barrel of oil is provided. Releasing millions of barrels from the strategic reserve (as the Biden administration continues to do) will have a temporary positive impact on gas prices at home, but is not a long-term solution. We need to learn from our mistakes at some point.

Furthermore, President Biden is a loose cannon who still needs to be tamped down, or better yet, removed from office due to his reduced mental capacity. Too often, he says the quiet part out loud. I understand the sentiment of deposing Putin. Putin gets all the blame for starting the war, and the U.S. can work behind the scenes to remove him, but the diplomatic strategy is not to say such things out loud. The best way to end this war is with a negotiated settlement, and if one of the negotiating points is to remove Putin, we are unlikely to obtain any settlement. Putin needs something from a settlement; we need to offer him a fig leaf, at least.

In addition, Biden made another unwise statement while in Europe last week saying that he would respond to Russia’s use of chemical weapons “in kind”. Would the U.S. really respond “in kind” for any instance of chemical warfare? President Obama drew a red line over this also, but did nothing when chemical weapons were used in Syria a few years ago. What if we don’t respond “in kind”? It will be another empty promise which further damages our credibility. The words should have been more carefully chosen. After all, the Russians have bombed the living hell out of the country for more than a month now, but if they use chemical weapons it all changes? We need to be a bit more consistent than this.

The president also spoke with American troops about what they would see in Ukraine, but the U.S. has not announced we are sending troops to Ukraine. Did he know where he was or what he was saying?

When back at home, the president was asked about these three questionable actions during his European trip, he said it all never happened. What are our enemies to make of this erratic behavior? What are we to think about it ourselves?

These comments were, in fact, walked back by folks in his own administration, so how can Biden get away with insisting that none of these well-reported events actually occurred? Can we afford to have this man stay at the helm? I fear for our nation with him holding such power.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/biden-asked-about-walk-backed-comments/vi-AAVAwBS?msclkid=9d9ae0edb13911ecb5aa06190153c8f9

Elmo, what does this word “gaslight” mean? Why do we have to take this nonsense from a man who during a press conference can’t follow the simple script handed to him by his handlers in the White House?

More Problems

Without a negotiated settlement, it appears the Russia/Ukraine war could drag on, more devastation for Ukraine and the world. China is the one country that benefits from all this. They have not-so-tacitly supported Russia throughout, yet they are happy having their rivals Russia and the U.S. tied up during this conflict. They are happy to buy up Russian oil and food products on the cheap. They are also taking notes on how to achieve their own imperialistic goals. They will likely be more effective against Taiwan than Russia has been in Ukraine. This war needs to end as soon as possible.

India has negotiated a deal for Russian oil and agreed not to trade in U.S. dollars. For years, oil has been traded around the world in dollars, petro-dollars. China has been trying for years to break our stranglehold on the oil market, and now India is playing realpolitik and bringing it to reality. India is a natural partner for the U.S. and should be making deals for U.S. oil, not Russia’s, yet they are pushed into a trade alliance with Russia due to our ill thought strategy. They doubt the sincerity of U.S. promised security and are worrying about U.S. oil production being limited by the new U.S. administration. These events will have a negative impact on the strength of the U.S. dollar– and all because folks in our government want to cater to the climate change model which most of them don’t believe in themselves (look up how many U.S. Senators voted for the Green New Deal when it came to a vote in 2019).

We also have U.S. corporations making foreign policy and taking actions which lead to less confidence in the U.S. dollar. We need the U.S. currency to be the safe haven around the world; that has helped sustain our economy despite our burgeoning national debt. The U.S. military power is derived from its economic power and without the U.S. playing its traditional leading role in the world, the role of the world’s policeman if you will, it will lead to more regional conflicts around the entire world and a further proliferation of nuclear weapons as more countries rely less on the U.S. and more on themselves.

All these fault lines are highlighted as a result of this war and the lack of U.S. action to deter it or to negotiate an end to it. We need to turn this back around. We need to reassert our influence and regain the leverage we have lost.

Putin obviously miscalculated what he could accomplish in Ukraine. He is in a corner at the moment. What will his next move be? He will not relent to domestic or world opinion; he doesn’t care unless these threaten his power. Either he will lash out even harder in Ukraine, up the ante, or the West will drag him to the negotiation table, offer him some face saving exit, and behind the scenes warn him to never do it again–or else. The choice is as much ours as it is his. When we show weakness and unwillingness to act, we cede the choice to him. But the fact is, we can still move forward with NATO expansion because Putin has no leverage over us in that regard. Putin is seventy years old and nearing the end of his regime; he will leave the world scene in a few years no doubt. Give him his fig leaf for now, but don’t play into his hands by giving him too much credit for leading a failed, corrupt country with a shambles of an economy.

Who Says Otherwise?

I have had several critics with regard to views on Ukraine; it appears from all sides of the aisle and many diverse points of view.

Many think seem to think we should have nothing to do with Ukraine. However, I say, if we don’t exert our influence and power, we will lose that power and the world will become a more scary place. Our enemies are watching carefully and determining if we have become weak and lack resolve. We showed weakness in Afghanistan and we did not do near enough to deter Putin from attacking Ukraine. The world knew for months Putin’s attack was coming. Putin bided his time and judged our response before acting himself; we sent mixed signals and prevaricated. In other words, we showed weakness, and that was the real problem. Our enemies know what we are capable of, but they doubt we still have the will to use that power (unfortunately, our allies wonder as well if we will keep our commitments given recent events).

Other critics have focused on the problems with Ukraine itself. Ukraine definitely has its problems. It has a history of anti-Semitism; it has even been reported the army has an actual neo-Nazi battalion, the Azov battalion (I assume this to be true). The country has had a history of corruption in its short time since gaining independence (including deals to buy off President Biden’s son). We can stipulate to Ukraine’s many imperfections, but, at the same time, also decry the Russians actions in destroying Ukraine’s infrastructure and uprooting millions of innocent people (nearly one-fourth of the entire country’s population has been displaced). An invasion is not the appropriate response. War is never the appropriate response. Putin has no justification for his actions. The millions of people of Ukraine do not deserve this fate.

Still others say the U.S. has its own problems, that our interference around the world has ended in disaster. History does show the U.S. has intervened and sometimes created more problems than it has solved. Still, I think folks are just not seeing the serious consequences of this war.  They are engaging in “what about-ism”: the U.S. made mistakes as well so who are we to attack Putin on his policies?  There should be no moral equivalency, however.

I know this for certain: we are taking the moral position in opposing Putin’s advances in Ukraine. I compare this view to condemnation of all Christians and the Church in general because of the actions of some within that community.  The Church is holy, but the members of the Church are clearly not; their sins corrupt their own souls and often the souls of others around them, but they do not corrupt the holiness of the Church itself or its message to all of humanity.  God, the Church, and the Word remain the same while the corrupt individuals are here for only a while. The Church survives all of this chaos and continues to save souls. So, if the U.S. poorly implements foreign policy (or domestic policy as well) it does not mean that America stands on equal moral footing with evil dictators like Putin.  Our message and our championing of freedom make us great still, despite the not so direct path we follow.

Some even want to blame the U.S. for provoking this war. Here is one comment I received:

We promised Russia that NATO would never go further east than Germany.  The US has proven we are just as bad as the hated colony makers back in the day.  The US is untrustworthy and is responsible for more unjust illegal deaths of innocent citizens in other countries than Russia.  Americans need to be very cautious of their own leaders in believing anything about Russia.

Biden knew it well when he was not senile per his own admission:

Like President Obama’s own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said, Biden has been wrong about every major foreign policy since he has been in office (at least a hundred years or more by now). He is stumbling and bumbling his way through this policy as well. America has survived many bad leaders; we can survive through the current lean years if the country realizes our true problems.

Ukraine clearly has issues as a fledgling democracy.  I don’t defend any of its corruption.  I know the U.S. has its own problems as well.  I write about our problems quite often; they are bad, but they are fixable within our system of government. Still, there is no justification to devastate the lives of millions in Ukraine and to bring on food shortages around the world (again, 25% of the world’s wheat is grown in Ukraine). We are also emboldening our enemies to take similar actions when we do not act boldly during such crises.

Putin has wrought mass destruction and will not stop unless forced to. You can refuse to believe such claims as CNN does, but I am pretty certain they are true. This is the Russian method of operation for every war they have conducted for the last few hundred years.

Some of the most horrific events include the actions of Putin’s forces in the March 16 bombing of Mariupol’s Drama Theater — a shelter for civilians — killing about 300 people, according to Ukrainian officials.

And as The New York Times documented last week, Russian forces have bombed at least 23 hospitals and other health care infrastructure, 330 schools and 27 cultural buildings as well 900 houses and apartment buildings. The paper also detailed Russian forces have used cluster munitions, which are imprecise and amount to indiscriminate bombings of civilians.

The U.S. may have chosen the wrong side in many foreign excursions or our good intentions may gone awry at times, but in this particular instance, we are no doubt on the right side of history. In fact, the U.S. has been on the right side in many instances, more than any other country. We were right to liberate Kuwait from Sadaam Hussein. We saved the world from Nazism, and then we rebuilt the destroyed countries we conquered. We defeated the evil empire of the Soviet Union. We have often been in the wrong, but we have also done so much good as well. There is no moral equivalency between what we have done throughout our history and what we stand for and what Putin has done the last twenty years. What good has Putin brought the rest of the world? Please name one positive thing he has accomplished. Our implementation is not always the best, but the U.S. has also led the way for relative peace in the world the last eighty years and our economic system has lifted billions around the world out of poverty during that same time. Make American Great Again. Keep America Great. Save America. They are not just slogans; the world depends on us remaining strong and remaining good.

From the Irish pop-star Bono a few years ago:

Anyway, it’s not a right/left issue. It’s a right/wrong issue, and America has constantly been on the side of what’s right. Because when it comes down to it, this is about keeping faith with the idea of America. Because America’s an idea, isn’t it? I mean, Ireland’s a great country, but it’s not an idea. Great Britain’s a great country, it’s not an idea. That’s how we see you around the world, as one of the greatest ideas in human history, right up there with the Renaissance, right up there with crop rotations and the Beatles’ White album. The idea, the American idea—it’s an idea—the idea is that you and me are created equal, and will ensure that an economic recession need not become an equality recession. The idea that life is not meant to be endured but enjoyed. The idea that if we have dignity, if we have justice then leave it to us, and we’ll do the rest. This country was the first to claw its way out of darkness and put that on paper. And God love you for it, because these aren’t just American ideas anymore. There’s no copyright on them. You brought them into the world. It’s a wide world now. I know Americans say they have a bit of the world in them, and you do, the family tree has lots of branches. But the thing is, the world has a bit of America in it, too. These truths, your truths, they’re self-evident in us.”

As I mentioned earlier, the U.S. conquered Germany and Japan and rebuilt those countries into thriving democracies. The Marshall plan was the most benevolent act of any conquering nation in all of history. We did not pillage the world after our ascendancy in WWII and we did not attempt to justify evil as Putin is doing now. Maybe the Russians have some issues with Ukraine, and maybe Ukraine is not a paragon of democracy, but leveling a country is not way to deal with those kinds of problems.  Whatever Ukraine did wrong, it is not worth displacing 10 million people and destroying an entire country for years to come.  Putin barely masks his true intentions when he says otherwise. This war just makes things far worse for the entire world, and we are right to oppose it and right to use our power to bring about a just end. We did not provoke this war.

Strategy

China has a long-term strategy for its ascendancy. Too often, the U.S. has short-term strategies ahead of the next election. The U.S. needs to examine the potential consequences from this war. Is this the start of some larger sinister plan? Who knew when Hitler peacefully annexed the Sudetenland that so much more would come next? Who knew when Neville Chamberlain declared “peace in our time” that we were actually on the verge of the most awful war in human history? Our enemies recognize our gullibility and they use it to their advantage. They are gaging our reaction every day now and will respond harshly to weak and conciliatory actions like Chamberlain’s or Biden’s, or instead they will hesitate in the face of strong and resolute leaders like Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul II.

Can the U.S. handle a multi-front war in Ukraine, Taiwan, and the Middle East?   We do not want to find out and we want to head them off at the pass before it comes to that. The interests of our enemies have been restrained by U.S. power, but signals of weakness from us embolden them to take those risky gambits. Hitler and Tojo were successful until the U.S. sleeping giant finally woke up. Nevertheless, the consequences of appeasement in the 1930s were immense. Let’s not make the same mistakes today. Again, it is in our national interest for this war to end and for it to end soon.   Pray for an end to it. Pray for a strong and resolute response from America. Pray for a revival for our nation. Pray for the people of Ukraine as well. Let us do all we can to help them retain their freedom and to diminish the power of evil dictators like Putin and his allies. Praise to Jesus, now and forever.

For more on my dad’s war stories, a retrospective on World War II, the Viet Nam War, and other historical events, please refer to this link: https://seek-the-truth.com/category/war-stories/

For more on the topic of Ukraine/Russia, please refer to my prior post on this topic: Who to Fear: Greta or Vlad?

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