Rudy Barnes, Jr., October 8, 2022
Until recently American support for Ukraine against Putin’s unprovoked aggression and war crimes appeared seamless. With the annexation of parts of Ukraine, Putin’s playbook now looks more like that of Hitler; but some members of Congress are wavering on continued support for Ukraine. Voters need to hold Congress accountable to support Ukraine in the November elections.
Many Americans admired Hitler and opposed going to war against Germany before 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941, the U.S. declared war against Japan, followed by Germany and the other Axis nations declaring war on the United States; then on December 11, 1941, Congress declared a state of war with Germany.
The threat of war should be an issue in the November elections. If defending democracy is a vital component of U.S. foreign policy, America must make it clear to Putin in the midterm elections that Russia must withdraw from Ukraine. Political ambiguity in responding to Russian annexation and further acts of aggression will only lead the world closer to war.
If Trump had not radicalized the Republican Party, it would be conservative rather than radical right. Since most Democrats are liberal and opposed to any prospect of war, there may be too few traditional Republican conservatives and too many Democratic liberals to support Ukraine in an existential war with Russia. Republicans and Democrats should count their votes.
A partisan debate on Ukraine might have a silver lining. It could erode America’s polarized partisan politics by muddling its traditional conservative-liberal split. President Biden is a Democrat who supports aid for Ukraine, while the Republican Political Action Committee (CPAC) includes many opponents of aid to Ukraine, and even some supporters of Putin.
Putin’s nuclear threat is to use tactical nuclear weapons or sabotage a nuclear power plant in Ukraine if any nation seeks to liberate annexed portions of Ukraine. That further complicates speculation on who will support or oppose military aid to Ukraine. Even so, America and NATO should never succumb to the threat of nuclear blackmail by Russia.
Events leading up to World War II should make Americans mindful of the risks of current events in Ukraine to world war. Like Hitler, Putin is a dangerous demagogue seeking to expand his power. America must avoid political miscalculations like those of Neville Chamberlain that failed to stem Hitler’s aggression in 1940. Appeasing demagogues like Putin never works.
Putin intends to restore the ancient Russian Empire of Peter the Great, beginning with the annexation of Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church has sanctified Putin’s aggression and annexation of Ukraine, making it a cultural priority of both politics and Russian Christian nationalism. America and NATO must prevent such an abomination from ever happening.
On CPAC backpedaling on a pro-Russia tweet as some U.S. conservatives back Putin, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/01/cpac-ukraine-russia-tweet/?utm.
On annexations that show the depth of Putin’s imperial delusion, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/10/05/putin-colonial-imperial-delusion/?utm.
On Russia conceding big losses in south as pro-Putin voices paint a grim picture of setbacks, see https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/05/europe/ukraine-conflict-russia-losses-intl/index.html.
Ex-CIA chief says Putin is ‘out of moves’ as Ukraine takes back dozens of ‘annexed’ towns. See https://www.cnbc.com/2022/10/05/ukraine-hails-good-news-from-the-front-lines-with-major-gains-in-counteroffensives-.html.
On Ukraine hammering Russian forces into retreat on east and south fronts, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/10/04/russia-retreat-kherson-lyman-ukraine/?utm.
On Zelensky hailing advances as open recriminations intensify in Russian media, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/10/02/ukraine-russia-lyman-donbas/?utm.
On Russia’s annexation puts the world “two or three” steps away from nuclear war, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/10/01/europe-putin-nuclear-threats/.
On Biden’s instincts to avoid war being sound--even if Putin goes nuclear, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/10/06/putin-nuclear-biden-avoid-war/?utm.
On Biden warning of a nuclear “Armageddon” similar to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/10/07/russia-ukraine-war-latest-updates/?utm.
On How Ukraine’s advances are cornering Putin, making the war more dangerous, see https://thehill.com/policy/international/3676711-how-ukraines-advances-are-cornering-putin-making-the-war-more-dangerous/?
On the countries holding the world’s nuclear arsenal, see https://www.statista.com/chart/8301/the-countries-holding-the-worlds-nuclear-arsenal/.
On where U.S. nuclear bombs are stored in Europe, see https://www.statista.com/chart/18711/bases-for-us-b61-nuclear-gravity-bombs-in-europe/.
The Washington Post Editorial Board has opined that “Putin’s language is escalating precisely because his strategic position is deteriorating. Russia does not even control all of the territory it supposedly annexed and, in fact, Ukrainian forces have recently retaken Russian-held areas.” See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/30/putin-ukraine-war-escalation-response/?utm.
Neville Chamberlain served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. He is best known for his foreign policy of appeasement, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement on 30 September 1938, ceding the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler. Following the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, Chamberlain announced the declaration of war on Germany two days later and led the United Kingdom through the first eight months of the war until his resignation as prime minister on 10 May 1940, when he was succeeded as prime minister by his colleague Winston Churchill. Chamberlain's reputation remains controversial among historians. See Wikipedia, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neville_Chamberlain.
Previous commentary on Putin’s aggression in Ukraine:
(2/26/22): Musings on Russia, the Ukraine and Nuclear War: Never?
(3/5/22): Musings on a New World Order Based on Reconciliation, not Conflict
(3/12/22): Musings on Defending Democracy from the Tyranny of a Nuclear Autocracy
(3/19/22): Musings on Military Legitimacy in a Post-American Era
(4/30/22): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Obsolescence of Christianity in Politics
(5/28/22): Musings on How Two GOP Primaries Could Reshape American Politics
(6/18/22): Musings on Shifting Strategies Against Russian Aggression in Ukraine
(9/24/22): Musings on the Means and Motivation to Counter Russian Escalation in Ukraine