I hate war.
Since World War II, every major conflict the US has gotten involved in has been an abject failure. We have expended countless lives, immeasurable resources, and much of our credibility abroad for nothing. Worse than nothing, in most cases. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan – it’s difficult to see that our involvement in these wars served any positive purpose. If it did, it certainly wasn’t commensurate with the toll taken on this nation and on the people who suffered in those conflicts.
Recently, a local media pundit claimed that the “mainstream media” is beating the drum of war in Ukraine, intimating that the US is preparing to actively enter the war.
I have not seen anything remotely hinting that America should get involved militarily in this conflict. And I agree wholeheartedly that we should not. At least not yet, and hopefully never.
But what the Biden administration is doing – along with the majority of Western democracies – is very smart and so far, proving to be effective.
Economic sanctions by NATO countries, the EU, Japan, and others are already taking a toll on the Russian economy. The Russian currency, the Ruble, has lost much of its value – nearly a quarter as of Monday alone. The Russian Central Bank has been forced to raise interest rates to over 20% in an attempt to contain runaway inflation. Much of the central bank’s $643 billion held in foreign currency reserves are being frozen. Dozens of countries have closed their airspace to Russian planes. Foreign investors are pulling out of Russia.
And yesterday afternoon, even Switzerland – setting aside a longstanding neutrality stance – announced it would freeze Russian assets.
Russia has become isolated from the world, much as the former Soviet Union was during the Cold War. That didn’t end well for the former communist republics.
Meanwhile, the government, the military, and the civilians of Ukraine are putting up stiff resistance to the invading Russian forces. Ukrainians abroad have been returning home to join the fight. The resistance appears stronger than anyone expected. So much so that Putin has agreed to peace talks. I don’t expect anything to come from that – it’s probably nothing more than a diversionary tactic. But it’s clear that none of this is going the way Putin thought it would.
The odds are, Russia will succeed in toppling the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But it will do so at a great cost. If we’ve learned anything from post-World War II conflicts, holding on to Ukraine will be a challenge unlikely to go Russia’s way.
Already, unprecedented protests in Russia are hinting that the people there will have little patience for another prolonged war. I believe if this conflict appears to be headed toward anything like the failures of both the Soviet Union and the United States to prevail in wars of nation-building, Putin will begin to see his own people rise up against him. It might even spark a revolution. It happened in Russia twice in the 20th century; it can surely happen again.
My point is that most of the world not already in the Russian sphere of influence is in agreement that this attack on a peaceful democratic neighbor will not be tolerated. This time, the US is on the right side. I find the incredible strength and resolve of Zelensky and his countrymen to be inspirational.
Ukraine is not some remote backwater. These people have embraced the West. They live in cities and towns that look much like anything in Europe – or, for that matter, America. They want to be part of the EU, of NATO.
I listened to the voices of Ukrainian people on the radio this morning. Just days ago, they lived lives much like ours. I heard from a computer programmer, a teacher, a doctor, a mother, a father. They don’t want war any more than we do. They did not ask to be invaded. They did not choose war.
They now face the stark choice of fleeing or fighting.
Most of them have chosen to stay and fight. They’re doing it for the same reasons we would if Russia were to invade the United States. They’re doing it to preserve their way of life, their autonomy, their freedom.
I am proud that Europe and the United States are standing with Ukraine.
I’m willing to tolerate higher gasoline prices for a time. Compared to what the people of Ukraine are going through, it’s nothing.