A widely offered explanation for the Russian invasion of Ukraine is that Russia—which at this time essentially means President Vladimir Putin—fears the expansion of NATO to its borders, especially Ukraine. The argument is often presented as an analogy: How would the United States react if Mexico had a mutual defense pact with Russia and received weapons from Russia?
A second explanation is that Russia is “paranoid” as a result of its having been devastated by the invasions of Napoleon’s France in the 19th century and Hitler’s Germany in the 20th century. This was the excuse that many professional excuse makers made for the Soviet Union’s shooting down—without any warning—Korean Air Lines flight 007 in 1983, killing all 269 passengers and crew.
“The Russians are paranoid” became a widespread explanation. Seymour Hersh, the best-known New York Times investigative reporter for decades, wrote a book on the shooting down of KAL 007. As described in a 1986 New York Times book review, “On the Soviet side, writes Mr. Hersh, there was paranoia.”
When I was a graduate student at Columbia University’s Russian Institute, I regularly encountered the “paranoid” explanation for Soviet/Russian policies. It struck me then, and even more so now, as pathologic or false, or both. Russia is by far the largest country on Earth, spanning approximately one-ninth of all the world’s land surface. When that fact is combined with Russia’s vast nuclear weaponry, the “paranoia” explanation for Russian aggression is rendered absurd.
It is even more absurd when one considers the countries Russia allegedly fears will invade them. Which one of their Western-border countries—Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine—is likely to invade Russia? Wasn’t every one of them invaded by Russia? Shouldn’t every one of them be paranoid?
We’ll end the “paranoid” discussion with this rule of history: Generally speaking, wars are either between two police states or between a police state and a free state. And the latter are nearly always initiated or provoked by the police state. Russia has nothing to fear from its neighbors. Its neighbors have plenty to fear from Russia.
America Is Watching, Not Intervening
I know of no American, on the Right or the Left, who has called for sending the U.S. military into Ukraine. But every American should feel awful—morally and as an American—about America sitting by and watching the first major invasion of a peaceful country since Hitler and Stalin. One reason is that since World War II, the weaker nations of the world have all held onto the hope that should they be attacked by a stronger nation, Americans would come to their aid.
America is aiding Ukraine with arms and economic sanctions, but as I watch peaceful Ukraine devoured by aggressive Russia, I can’t help but think that it appears that evil will triumph—and lead to more evil on Earth. I have never agreed with the throwaway line, “America is not the world’s policeman.” Does the world not need a policeman? And if not America, who? China? Russia? The U.N.?
If the strongest boy in high school, one whom the weakest boys and girls looked to for protection, decided one day to watch rather than to protect them as they were beaten by the school bully, even if there was good reason for the lack of intervention, wouldn’t that be a very sad day? And wouldn’t it affect the way the protector saw himself?
Most Americans see themselves as protectors of the weak against bully nations. This is the first time in our lifetime that America has abandoned that role.
The World’s Most Courageous Political Leader?
By general consensus among the world’s media and world’s nations, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the most courageous leader in the world today.
For many people, this is particularly remarkable since Zelenskyy’s professional background is that of a comedian. It strikes most people as amazing that a comedian turns out to be the world’s most inspiring leader.
That, of course, was the reason so many dismissed Donald Trump when he ran for president: “He has no political experience, he’s just a wealthy real estate developer.” However, that real estate developer also turned out to be the most courageous leader in the world. Honest haters of Trump must at least acknowledge his courage—just as supporters must acknowledge his lack of a filter between his brain and his mouth.
It was Trump who had the courage to demand that our NATO allies live up to their obligations with regard to military spending. Ironically, thanks to Putin, the NATO countries are finally doing so. It was Trump who uncovered a deep state of corruption in nearly every major American governmental institution. It was Trump who took on the mainstream media, regarded by half of America as little better than Pravda, the Soviet newspaper. It was Trump who had the courage to do what president after president and Congress after Congress called for but never acted on: moving the American embassy in Israel to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. He did this despite the opposition of almost every world leader and his own State Department. If that’s not courage, what is?
And it remains a fact that Putin did not invade Ukraine while Trump was president. Putin feared Trump. Neither Putin nor anyone else fears Joe Biden.
It is therefore not at all surprising that a comedian is the world’s most courageous leader. It is surprising that people still think a lifelong political career produces leaders. Biden is a lifelong politician and, as his behavior during COVID-19 showed, may well be the least courageous president in American history.
Environmentalists Made the Invasion Possible
It is overwhelmingly likely that American and European environmentalists made the Russian invasion of Ukraine possible. Under Trump, America became energy independent and was even able to supply Europe with energy. But the environmental movement, which dominates the Democratic Party and nearly every western European country, has made Russia the major supplier of natural gas to Europe, and especially to the most important country on the European continent, Germany.
The environmentalist movement uses climate change to achieve its primary objectives: undoing the West’s economic foundations, reshaping the Western way of life, dismantling capitalism, and transferring wealth to the Third World. They will pursue these aims at any cost—whether crippling inflation, energy blackouts, even the strengthening of Russia and China.
If you really believe climate change poses an “existential threat” to human life, there is no price too high to pay in order to eliminate fossil fuel-based energy. That includes empowering and enriching evil men.
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