The Mountain Democrat recently published an editorial advocating military action in Ukraine, as did John Bolton, William Kristol, Dick Cheney and other chicken hawks.
This week, the Washington Post published a poll indicating that only 1 in 6 Americans can locate Ukraine and that the more geographically-challenged the person is, the more he/she favors military action in Ukraine. The Mountain Democrat’s editorial position is now easy to understand in the context of the poll.
Americans have very short memories, but Russians and eastern Ukrainians don’t. During World War II, as the German army marched toward Moscow, western Ukrainians joined the invading Nazis by the tens of thousands. At least one SS division on the Russian front was composed entirely of Ukrainians, and western Ukrainians made up the bulk of concentration camp guards, especially at camps where over 3.3 million Soviet prisoners died. Jan Demjanjuk, the Cleveland auto worker whom we deported to Israel to be tried as a war criminal, was one of those Ukrainian guards at the 70 concentration camps scattered throughout Europe. We may have forgotten this history, but Russians are unlikely to soon forget the 24 million dead they suffered at the hands of the Nazis and their Ukrainian allies.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO had 17 members. Today, it has 28; the 11 new nations are former Warsaw pact members. Several, like Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, sit right on Russia’s borders. NATO is a military alliance aimed solely at Russia. Is it any wonder that Putin feels paranoid about all those unfriendly neighbors, especially since John McCain now wants Ukraine to join NATO?
How would we react to an unfriendly power forming military alliances with Canada and Latin America? We’d react the way Putin is reacting to NATO’s encroachment on Russia’s cordon sanitaire by declaring: “A NATO move into Ukraine will be a casus belli.” With over 5,000 nukes, Russia is a big power and plays by big power rules, just as we do. That’s why we felt justified to invade Grenada, Haiti (twice), the Dominican Republic (twice), Panama (twice), Cuba, the Philippines, Iraq and Afghanistan. Our annexation of Texas and much of the southwest only confirms why so many nations consider us to be hypocrites.
Until we are able to put ourselves in other countries’ positions and understand their history, we’ll never fathom what motivates them; we’ll forever lurch from diplomatic Charybdis to military Scylla.