A remarkable failure of meaningful reporting about the massive military buildup in and around Ukraine in recent weeks results in most Americans having no idea how close we have been brought to armed conflict with the Russian Federation.
Even those Americans who have sought out news about Ukraine can do little more than watch from the sidelines as those currently leading our nation inch us toward a potential catastrophe.
Although going to war is the most consequential decision that a nation can make, the people are rarely consulted by the elites, who are largely immunized from the consequences of their actions. If the people were actually consulted, wars would be rare events indeed.
The rhetoric about the Ukraine conflict is out of control. President Joe Biden threatens that Russia would “pay a heavy price” for any incursion into Ukraine. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warns of “massive consequences” for Russia. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, “We don’t rule out first-use nuclear action.” First-use nuclear action rhetoric is not only extremely dangerous, but these types of nonsensical remarks also threaten the stability of the entire world.
Policy wonks throw around the phrase “failure of imagination” when it comes to intelligence community failures. The entire Biden administration, along with the neocon defense and foreign policy thinks tanks in Washington, are failing to imagine the consequences of the dangers lurking in Eastern Europe currently.
War is not fair and is not meant to be. In fact, harking back to the failures in Afghanistan, during a recent State Department call, the following was stated: “Given that the President has said military action by Russia could come at any time. The US Government will not be in a position to evacuate US Citizens. So US citizens, currently present in Ukraine should plan accordingly.” A stunning statement of failure!
We are again living out the maxim that “truth is the first casualty of war.” If the people are to have a chance to stop a conflagration, the first step is to resist the propaganda barrage from the establishment media and learn the truth. Only then we can demand our government stop beating the drums of war.
The Biden administration wants us to believe that Russia is seeking to regain its former greatness by overthrowing the government of Volodymyr Zelensky and replacing it with a puppet government that it would control. The neocon-dominated establishment in both of our political parties wants us to believe that the Soviet Union still exists and is inherently expansionary.
Just as the nation was sold a hoax about Russia having elected President Donald Trump in 2016, another illusion now is being sold. Do not believe a word of it!
Russia has explained repeatedly it has one core concern — Ukraine being admitted into the NATO military alliance.
Responding to the buildup, a Russian official explained in a Tass article: “We are alarmed by reports some member-countries of NATO have stepped up the deployment of lethal weapons and military personnel to Ukraine.”
And if Ukraine were admitted into NATO, with its strategic location, Russian knows that NATO and the U.S. could place missiles literally on its border, creating an existential threat to Russia.
While Russia’s concern is obvious, the Biden administration has never even tried to explain the existence of any vital national interest of the United States in Ukraine that could justify hostilities. For his part, Blinken has asserted the principle that Ukraine must have the right to join NATO and claimed that principle could never be compromised. The Russians understand that would likely result in nuclear weapons being placed at its doorstep — closer to Russia than Cuba is to the United States.
It should be obvious that there is no equivalency of interest here. None. NATO was established to preserve the peace, and it would be a tragedy of immense proportions if its threatened Eastern expansion would become the principal cause of a devastating war.
Let’s put the current conflict into a historical context. If President John Kennedy was justified in risking war to prevent nuclear missiles from being installed in Cuba in 1961, then why exactly is Russian President Vladimir Putin being reckless in risking war to prevent NATO weapons from being installed in Ukraine in 2022? Would any great nation allow the development of such a threat on its border?
The world could have been thrown into war in October 1962 if Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had not been willing to take into consideration the non-negotiable position that Kennedy was taking. Kennedy promised not to invade Cuba, and he later reciprocated Khruschev’s action by removing U.S. Jupiter missiles from Turkey. Both great nations acted responsibly, and the Cuban Missile Crisis ended peacefully.
The events of October 1962 remind us that there are great principles that govern how great nations must treat each other to preserve the peace.
Part of my training as an Army officer was to study The Law of Nations by Emer de Vattel. This historic work was instrumental in guiding the Founders of our nation as it declared independence from England and charted our own course in the world. It takes principles of natural law and applies those principles to nations. It is a remarkable book.
Two of the principles set out in that book are of critical importance right now, and our foreign policy masters need reminding from time to time of these principles.
First, “Every nation … has … a right to prevent other nations from obstructing her preservation … that is, to preserve herself from all injuries … called the right to security … It is safest to prevent the evil, when it can be prevented.” This principle is the basis for the Monroe Doctrine and was exactly Kennedy’s response to the threat of Russian missiles in Cuba.
Second, “Every nation is obliged to cultivate the friendship of other nations, and carefully to avoid whatever might kindle their enmity against her.” De Vattel then added: “Wise and prudent nations often pursue this line of conduct from views of direct and present interest; a more noble, more general, and less direct interest, is too rarely the motive of politicians.”
All parties involved must seek to re-identify and apply those natural law principles to the current crisis before the world slips off into the abyss. While politicians generally double down on overblown rhetoric, there is still hope statesmen will arise, act responsibly and preserve the peace.
The United States and the Russian Federation are great nations. However, these great nations each have thousands of nuclear weapons that could kill hundreds of millions.
With those as the stakes, it would be wise for Biden and Blinken to listen to what Putin is saying and consider why Russia believes its vital national interests are at risk. If the United States has no comparable national interest to that of Russia, that should be the basis for de-escalation.
My strongest recommendation for consideration by those deciding the potential fate of humanity is to listen again to something George Washington, our first president, said about politics and war: “[B]e honest and just ourselves and to exact it from others, meddling as little as possible in their affairs where our own are not involved. If this maxim was generally adopted, wars would cease …”
I am not pollyannish that war will forever cease; I am by nature a warrior. I do believe, however, from time to time, to be a nation at peace, we must return to our faith and our forefathers to remind ourselves what the real consequences of wars cause.
War is not fair — it is not meant to be — and a looming war with Russia would be anything but fair. Take that to the bank, if you can find one after a nuclear exchange.
The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.