The West and Ukraine were unprepared for a Russian invasion. They feign surprise. Yet, they chose to ignore four decades of atrocities committed by Russian troops. This political amnesia is due, in part, to the material benefits enjoyed by Europe; supplies of oil, fertilizer, and capital by oligarchs. Ukraine was set up for suffering. by avoiding Russia’s behavior over decades. It will take years to recover, no matter the outcome.
The West, comprised of the U.S., Europe, and NATO, is evading the truth. Ask yourself why Ukraine was so ill-prepared to handle an invasion by Russia. Why, given Vladimir Putin´s recent history, would anyone be surprised that Ukraine was next on the chopping block? Yet, Western leaders, for example, French President Macron, feigned disbelief that Russia invaded Ukraine even with 190,000 Russian troops amassed on the border. How much denial can one leader muster to ignore reality?
Ukraine was also lapsed in developing internal defenses against Russia. They must have known for several years that it was only a matter of time before invasion would come. Russian troops landed and annexed Crimea, killing 14,000 people in 2014. Why amnesia regarding this relatively recent and geographically close event?
Perhaps paralysis of the West runs deeper than first accounts. Russia, after all, supplied oil to key countries in Europe, controlled over 20 percent of the fertilizer market to grow food globally, driving up prices by 40% over last year, and money from Russian oligarchs was appreciated throughout London.
Perhaps it was the pay-offs shaping U.S. elections under former U.S President Donald Trump and approved by the Republican party. Recall that Trump and his cronies refused money for the defense of Ukraine. Tucker Carlson, a leading spokesperson for Fox News, is a Putin fan and was given special recognition by the Russian government. His Fox News show is approved for viewing in Russia; and Republicans have continued to drag their feet on helping Ukraine, which is making matters worse.
Whatever the reasons, it’s time to wake up to the reality of a sizeable foe, rather than get sidetracked by the likes of Iraq, the Gulf War, and Afghanistan. Strangling Cuba´s economy for the U.S. is a lot easier than taking on Russia.
The spread of nuclear weapons, one could argue, has created a kind of checkmate diplomacy that makes the stakes different today, although nuclear weapons are held by nine countries and have been around for over 60 years. Nuclear blackmail is a new reality that Putin has introduced. A treaty signed by Putin a few years ago states that he needs to only assess that Russia is threatened in order to resort to the use of nuclear weapons. As if he would adhere to a treaty agreement anyway.
If Putin´s threat of using nuclear weapons is the main reason for military inactivity on the ground, then Russia is free to take any country in the region by threatening nuclear war. Once a threat is effective in defining military strategy, it tends to be repeated.
Russia also intends to arm Belarus with nuclear weapons, spreading the potential for destruction. This is only the tip of the nuclear iceberg, as most players who have weapons can threaten to use them to get what they want.
History As Redo, Only Different
Over the years, when lecturing in Japan, I often thanked the Japanese government for attacking Pearl Harbor. Without this attack, I noted, the U.S. would not have entered WWII, allowing Hitler to exterminate all Jews, other minorities, and control Europe. President Roosevelt did not have the votes nor will to launch a war in Europe, and this delay ultimately cost millions of lives and complete destruction of cities.
Russia´s leader, Stalin, according to European archives, was busy killing between 5-6 million Russians directly and approximately 10 million indirectly during and after the war. Russia was a cult-led killing machine. Russian soldiers were motivated to fight hard, in part, because they faced Hitler at their front and Stalin at their back.
The Chinese Cultural Revolution under Mao caused the death of over 30 million people through starvation and war. Anyone who exercised independent thinking was subject to a re-education camp and possible death, much like the reality for twelve million Uyghurs who are Muslims imprisoned in an Autonomous Region in China today.
This hasn´t stopped any American or European company from locating or doing business in China. Twelve million imprisoned people is a small price to pay for the stability of manufacturing cheap goods for the West. The same goes for access to resources.
If all this sounds familiar, it is. What is happening today is a redo of the past with modern variations. The cult of Putin, invading Ukraine, President Biden´s refusal to help Ukraine in real military terms, the complicity of Europe debating energy policy, and oil dependence on Russia. As if European governments, especially Germany, hadn´t noticed Russia´s brutality since 1979 when Russian soldiers killed over one million Afghans, repeated war crimes in Syria or Georgia, or blew up airlines killing civilians. And China´s fake neutrality with a history of defending the Russians is almost laughable in a macabre sort of way.
What is emerging as a relatively new strategy, however, is a collective financial strategy among nations to punish, perhaps bankrupt Russia; the financialization of war through sanctions, money and accounts for weapons provided to Ukraine. Ultimately, this financial strategy will weaken Russia, while Ukraine falls. However, the real costs of destroyed lives, infrastructure, democratically elected government, businesses, and capital infusions by donor countries will remain incalculable.
Bringing Putin to the table after he takes Ukraine, and burns up billions of Western dollars—your money—-is a waste of life, resources, and strategy. One could easily argue that the U.S. will bear most of the economic pain of trying to resurrect Ukraine and compensate for NATO, which has yet to carry its fair share of expenses for defense in the region.
Wasted Money & Intelligence
Why does the U.S. spend approximately $800 billion annually on military personnel, weapons, and related intelligence in order to be helpless in this situation? This amount is well over 10 times the amount spent on military by Russia, and over twice the amount spent by all NATO countries combined. Our military expenditures are so large that they are often difficult to track. Some pundits have even accused the Pentagon of running a shadow government with untraceable funds.
Not only is it difficult to hold the Pentagon and military accountable for these expenditures, but the quality of intelligence and strategy is flawed for all to see. The military, under General Colin Powell, for instance, was certain that weapons of mass destruction were being transported by train in Iraq. They accused the Iraq government of knowingly doing this. Our intelligence agencies in Iraq proved faulty, there were no weapons of mass destruction, yet we declared war and invaded.
In Syria, under dictator Bashar al-Assad, supported by Russia, thousands of people have been killed for over two decades. President Barack Obama, in 2012, warned Bashar not to drop sarin gas on his people, or there would be a price to pay. Bashar did drop gas on his people and President Obama was helpless to do anything about it. Although he likes to take credit for extracting concessions around biological weapons, these weapons were once again supplied by the Russians and used against Syrians in 2017. His efforts were next to useless.
Russia since then, has also helped Syria drop barrel bombs—bombs stuffed with metals and nails on civilian populations including children. Bashar has never been tried or hunted by the U.S. or EU as a war criminal. Russia and China block Security Council resolutions on prosecuting Bashar and Russia for war crimes.
When the conflict in Bosnia occurred, 1992-1995, clear cases of mass rape, saturation bombing of cities, and genocide against Muslims were committed and reported. It took three years and tens of thousands of deaths for the U.S. and European countries to step in, even while the killing took place in the backyard of Europe.
Why should Europe intervene? After all, it wasn´t their conflict and their economies didn´t suffer. The blinders of justice are occurring now in China, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia with mass executions underway, to highlight a few. Yet, no actions or sanctions are afoot. Far from it.
President Biden, mirroring his former boss, has begun to prattle with warnings to Putin about using biological weapons against Ukraine. “You better not,” Mr. Biden warned. Why not one may ask? What is Biden prepared to do? Make Putin look bad on the international stage.
Russia has triggered, however, the need for an entirely new military budget and strategy. As an American taxpayer, with current strategies, I would like a refund on the money wasted on the largest military budget in the history of nations, by leaps and bounds. We are no safer today than if we reduced military spending by two hundred billion dollars annually; or at least create better use of military budgets with more effective strategies. Try joining the 21st century.
What You Can Do
- Write or call your representatives and demand that Mr. Putin be charged with war crimes, and crimes against humanity. You can also reach out directly to the Hague, for example.
- You can call or write your representatives to support a different strategy: urge them to organize 20 nations to help recruit and support mercenaries to enter Ukraine and help fight. There are tens of thousands of service men and women available from former wars. This could be done of their own free will, and not identified with governments.
- Send donations to groups for weapons, food, or general supplies. Every bit helps.
- Write and call the UN and your elected leaders to have Russia disabled from voting on the Security Council. It is an insult to the UN body itself. We cannot accept this travesty.
- Write or call your representatives and/or President Biden to strengthen specialty, high technology weapons to countries in the region that will need military assistance. Drone technology, for example, can be adopted to local conditions, and be extremely effective.
- Support the U.S. and EU in upgrading military defenses to include an Iron Dome approach that is used by Israel to defend itself against rockets that are fired at it. This is only the beginning of nuclear intimidation.