HILL: Peace through strength ― or prayer

** FILE ** In this June 12, 1987 file photo U.S. President Reagan acknowledges the crowd after his speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, where he said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!'. On Tuesday June 12, 2007, It will be the 20th anniversary of the moment seen by many to be the start of a new age for politics. Applauding Reagan are West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, and West German Parliament President Philipp Jenninger, left. (AP PHOTO/Ira Schwartz)

American foreign policy since George Washington has been to avoid any “entangling alliances” overseas. Everyone in the West is understandably nervous about doing anything regarding Ukraine that will provoke a nuclear World War III, which would end civilization as we know it.  

Our leaders keep saying “this is a Ukraine/Russia problem; let them solve it.” 

The problem with such myopic thinking is that foreign wars eventually come to U.S. shores.  9/11 was a direct attack on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. World Wars I and II disrupted trade and supply chains on top of being humanitarian disasters that begged for benevolent American intervention. 

The question has always been whether we should have done more sooner to stop madmen over there before they affect us over here. 

World leaders since antiquity can be divided between megalomaniacal power-mad emperors, kings and dictators and rational leaders who work for peace and stability. Dan Carlin points out in his book “The End is Always Near” that every Assyrian king from 2000 BC to 600 BC ― especially Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C) ― were genocidal madmen who made Adolf Hitler look like a choir boy. 

Ashurnasirpal II; Genghis Khan; Alexander the Great; Roman Caesars; Hitler; Stalin; Mao ― 100% of the hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of their victims wish from beyond the grave that someone somewhere in the civilized world had taken action to end the lives of these mass murderers before they ended theirs. 

Vladimir Putin has joined their infernal fraternity. He has taken his rightful place beside Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Putin deserves to be treated as a terrorist, not as a fellow “world leader” worthy of any respect or deference. 

John McCain described Russia in 2014 as a “gas station masquerading as a country.” Russia has about the same GDP as the State of Texas. Russia is expected to decline from 144 million in population today to less than 100 million by 2060 due to very low birth rates, a 30% decline. The only reason why Russia is taken seriously on the world stage at all is because in the aftermath of the Cold War and Soviet breakup starting in 1989, Putin now controls 6,255 nuclear warheads.   

The US possesses 5,500. Think of Putin in Russia as if a maniacal Governor of Texas has control of the world’s largest arsenal of deadly nuclear weapons. 

What would have stopped any homicidal madman such as Putin in the past? Economic sanctions? Stern lectures from a foreign leader thousands of miles away? Demands that they obey the Geneva Conventions or the United Nations on which they hold veto power? 

The only thing murderous killers on the world stage understand and respect is overwhelming military force in opposition. President Ronald Reagan’s “Peace Through Strength” military buildup in the 1980’s, which included his Strategic Defense Initiative, was mockingly derided as “Star Wars” by his detractors. However, it so destabilized the thinking of Soviet leaders and drained their financial resources to the point that when Reagan called for Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!” in his June 12, 1987, Brandenburg Gate speech, two years later, the Berlin Wall fell like the walls of Jericho with not a single bullet being fired. 

Much has been made about not wanting to provoke Putin into nuclear war. Putin doesn’t fear provoking the West into nuclear war. He knows he could invade Georgia, Crimea and now Ukraine with impunity and without fear of provoking the West to retaliate in any meaningful military way.   

Reagan supplied the Afghan freedom-fighters with enough Stinger missiles and military equipment they needed to flat-out defeat the Soviet Union on the battlefield in 1986.  The Soviets had thousands of nuclear weapons at their disposal at that time as well but didn’t use them.  President Reagan would have approved the deal to send US F-16 fighter jets to Poland so Poland could send their MiGs to the Ukrainian air force to fight the Russians.  

President Biden, who appears to be holding his head in his hands while wringing them at the same time, shamefully declined to complete the transfer of jets to Poland so they could help the Ukrainians. 

Does the West “wait” until Putin launches a tactical nuclear weapon before it acts to stop Putin? If Putin does launch a nuclear weapon, does the West refrain from retaliation for fear of escalating even further nuclear warfare from Putin? 

If the West doesn’t take serious military action in Ukraine to halt Putin, what option is there left? The Biden White House must be hoping and praying a few brave souls in Russia will take action to assassinate Putin as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and some dissident Nazi officers tried to do with Hitler in the failed Operation Valkyrie in 1944. 

Hoping and praying for such individual bravery on the part of an individual Russian citizen is hardly solid foreign policy on the part of the United States of America. A pitifully weak performance and response so far by Biden, VP Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the last two who were behind the Benghazi disaster, doesn’t bode well for peace in Ukraine in the near future. 

Prayer might be our only hope for the next 1041 days until Biden leaves the White House.