Learning from History: has the US failed again?

The World is witnessing a three-fold tragedy.  First, as we now appear to be just coming out of the Omicron variant, we are witnessing a terrible, inhumane, aggression against a sovereign nation by a Russian Thug.  Second,  rather than properly responding to the American security guarantees  given to an independent Ukraine by the Obama Administration in 2014 in exchange for giving up their nuclear weapons, the USA has basically said the Russian aggression is “0ff-Limits” to active American military forces.  Notwithstanding some help with armaments delivered now and over the course of 2021 and before and limited supplies of defensive weaponry since the Russian attack, the people of an independent and democratic state are being violently slaughtered and forced to run for their lives from Russian aggression.   Third, the Biden Administration, having botched the departure from Afghanistan, is sufficiently frightened of Putin’s threats that it has basically forgotten our history with the Russians.  Time to Remember Mr. President!

Relevant History

The history of dealing with aggression in Europe begins in the 19th century with the German attack on France, and  continues in 1914.  But, what is truly relevant is the September, 1938, Chamberlain concession to the Hitler regime. A misguided British Prime Minister allowed the Nazi’s to take over the Sudetenland, a largely German-speaking segment of the post WWI Czechoslovakian Republic.  Ironically, Chamberlain actually frustrated Hitler because, as we now know, Hitler actually wanted to march the Wehrmacht into Czechoslovakia thinking the British were too supine to resist.  Hitler was correct in his assessment of Chamberlain!   Chamberlain, of course, claimed he was preventing a war.  He did not succeed.  Rather,  he whetted tHitler’s appetite by allowing the take-over. (See Golo Mann’s brilliant history, “Germany since 1789.”

Britain and France might have been far better off to face the Nazi’s in 1938 rather than waiting until the tragedy of 1940 that gave the Nazi’s even more time to prepare their onslaught of Belgium and France accompanied by the Allies difficulty in sending supplies to Poland, next on the aggressor’s list of conquest.  In the meantime, Hitler got a respite from Communist Russia with the Hitler-Stalin pact and was able to carve up Poland (along with the Russians from the East, with the terrible consequences for the murder of so many people.  We need to remind ourselves what can happen when you stimulate the appetite of an aggressor!

Our relevant history, however,  is October, 1962, long before President Biden became a significant politician.  He was less than 20 years old when the Kennedy Administration had to face down the Russian Navy steaming toward Cuba with nuclear tipped missiles.   There was the risk of nuclear war then too, but the Kennedy ExCom Group stood its ground and the Russian military revolted against Khrushchev.  After the confrontation, we learned that the Russian military leaders were not willing to see whatever progress the Soviet Union had made since its second Revolution and its immense victory over Nazi Germany go up in a Nuclear Holocaust.  They essentially backed Khrushchev down and the Russian Navy turned back with its vicious cargo.  Of course, no one then (or now) can be sure what the Russians will do if confronted today, but certainly we have some intelligence to guide this Administration?  There is a precedent here, however much we have violated our Red Line in the Sand since 2014!

We may be witnessing the real decline of American power and prestige in our forlorn resistance to Vladimir Putin.  We are not willing to provide a No Fly Zone because combat between American-piloted aircraft against Russian invaders to Ukraine could be a pretext for Putin to ignite a Nuclear War.  One can’t blame this Administration for being cautious, but post-Afghanistan, we look weak, disordered and unwilling to exert the power that we have.   Will it whet the Aggressor’s appetite?  History speaks on this issue, in a very troubling manner.

Democratic countries worry about the next election, but our forbears,  just four years out of war with their former Ruler,  highlighted the two major tasks of our Republic in 1787.   Those two primary tasks were internal peace and quiet and external security.   We are now failing at both, lost in the Woke aspirations of saving Humanity from a climate future that is more scientific conjecture than reliable and tested climate theory. (Try running the climate models backward and see if you can predict current results!)

It is also true that there is considerable cant coming from Congressional electees who wish to suspend the sales of Russian crude oil around the world, to penalize Putin for his catastrophic adventure.   Based on the news clips, there is apparent misunderstanding, (perhaps deliberately?) over Congressional views on the nature of the global oil market.   Taking Russian’s approximately 10 mmbbls/day off the market would definitely tighten the current world supply of crude oil.  The mere threat has escalated crude oil to $130 bbl, and collapsed the Equity Market.  Such a policy will definitely impact inflation here and abroad, lowering real incomes.  But that vulnerability is also part of the Wokism that inhabits this Administration.

The U.S. has a lot of not yet developed crude oil supplies that will only begin gradually to come into the market if crude oil trades above $100/bbl as it now does.  It will take time to address the current price path of finished petroleum products.  Sadly,voters in many Blue States have elected politicians who parade Climate Worries and ignore national security.  In addition, countries like Germany, which discarded most of their nuclear generating capacity have made themselves unambiguous hostages to Russian oil and gas. Their financing and  build-out of NordStream 2 to make themselves integrated with a threatening supplier was the triumph of politicians wishing election and a denial of history.  Maybe the delay in certification of NordStream 2 will be longer than next year…but one never knows.  German politicians are also addicted to re-election and they have long believed that investment in Russia and exports to Russia were vital to their prosperity.  They are vigorous advocates of an Iranian deal, despite considerable evidence that this will not stop a nuclearization of Iran nor Iranian attempts to implement their own geopolitical aims in the Mid-East.

Maybe the Germans will learn what they once knew prior to 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down and the former Communist East Germany was successfully integrated into the West.  Thoughtful Geopoliticians in the US and Germany might understand, but German politicians ignore history as well to our collective discomfort.

So, Folks, as the President likes to say, there we are.  Stuck in a huge dilemma: whether to come to the aid of a vital, democratic country, resisting Thugs from the East who threaten the rest of us with a Nuclear War, or draw a line that we mean to enforce?

The Chinese “alliance,” with Russia is an additional geopolitical dilemma, worse so,  because so many American firms having been profitably “selling the rope by which we will hang them” (to use Lenin’s more than appropriate quip) dealing with China, despite their own inhumane behavior.  Are we tempting them to finally follow Putin’s path and invade Taiwan?   Rome burned while Nero fiddled, but the clock is running fast now for the U.S. and its democratic allies are fiddling while the Ukraine is burning.

The bottom line of many analysts is that our immense discontinuity in Presidential elections, our withdrawal from Afghanistan and our indecisiveness over what measures we will utilize to help the Ukrainians maintain their freedom is being seen by our Thuggish opponents as weakness.  They seem to think  we will not resist which makes their threats so real!  Its time to make the Thugs do a re-think on their own.

No one wants to see our young men and women perish again in a “foreign” war…but is it really a “foreign war, or is it a precursor to our own external security worsening even more?