While listening the other day to former Vice President Mike Pence declare his 2024 presidential candidacy, I was struck by a theme he kept harping on.
We need to do all we can to support democratic nations, such as Ukraine, he said. The United States must take the lead in helping Ukraine fend off the illegal and immoral invasion by Russian forces, he added. We need to stand for democracy in Europe, Pence said.
But … wait!
We’re already doing that, aren’t we? President Biden has not just said all of that but has persuaded Congress to spend a lot of money to arm the Ukrainians, to train them in using the equipment we’re providing them. He has imposed punishing economic sanctions on Russia, persuading our NATO and EU allies to go along.
The Ukrainians are — as near as many experts can tell — winning the fight in the field against a demoralized, under-qualified Russian invading force.
How is that? Because the United States has stepped up as the world’s pre-eminent champion for democracy!
What does Mike Pence think we should do differently than what we have done already?
For my money? Not a damn thing!
You may count me as one cheap-seat observer who isn’t totally surprised that Ukraine’s armed forces are repelling the advance of the illegal invaders from Russia.
After all, when the Russians invaded Ukraine six months ago, I noted that the Ukrainians are far from “defenseless.”
However, I am stunned at the level of success that Ukraine has scored. We hear from the battlefield that Russian forces are in full retreat and that Ukraine intends to take back territory captured by the Russians.
Does any or all of this mean that Russia’s dictator Vladimir Putin is going to surrender? Hardly. It does open the door, though, for Putin to look for some sort of way to negotiate his way back to the Kremlin and get his forces out of danger.
We had heard from a number of key U.S. military geniuses who said at the outset of war that Russia’s conventional military force was overrated, that Russia was little more than a third-rate conventional military power. The Russians, though, do possess a substantial nuclear arsenal and there have been concerns expressed that Putin could deploy some of it to put down the Ukrainians.
He’s already a war criminal, given the casualties his forces have inflicted on civilians in Ukraine. I am not going to buy into the notion that he is utterly stupid enough to use nukes and prompt a response from Ukraine, which has a hefty nuclear arsenal of its own.
I am astounded, though, to see that U.S. and allied response in the form of military aid is paying huge dividends for the heroic Ukrainians who, after all, are fighting for the survival of their country.
President Biden deserves a lot more credit than he is getting as he weighs his options on how to respond to Russia’s naked and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.
Part of the package of responses involves the president’s masterful diplomacy in bringing the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization collection of nations on board in a collective response to Russia’s ham-handed and brutal invasion.
The EU and NATO have signed on to the vast array of economic sanctions initiated by the United States. Who has persuaded them? The Biden administration diplomatic team led by our head of state. The remarkable show of unity lies in stark contrast to what the United States witnessed during the previous administration, when the POTUS would criticize NATO openly for other member nations not paying enough for the defense of Europe; the ex-POTUS also angered EU members repeatedly by imposing tariffs on goods brought to this country. He also led the international cheering squad that encouraged the United Kingdom to withdraw from the EU, a move that surely didn’t set well in EU capitals across Europe. It was all part of a half-baked and poorly conceived America First policy enacted by the president.
Well, the world has shrunk some more. We see Russian troops bombing civilian targets in Ukraine. The Ukrainians are fighting for their country’s very survival. They need the help of the EU and NATO. They are getting that support.
President Joe Biden deserves high praise for ensuring our allies are lined up in unison.
The images coming out of Ukraine produce a helpless feeling among those of us watching them. It’s hard for me to assess it in real time. I just know it when I sense it, when I feel it in my gut.
The Russians are committing what have been described as war crimes, or crimes against humanity. How? By bombing hospitals and targeting, apparently, civilian targets. The modern rules of war compel nations in conflict to limit their targets to the military establishments of their adversaries. That isn’t happening in this ground war.
Russian army and air units have dropped bombs and fired missiles at the softest targets possible. Hospitals, schools, churches. It is sickening to watch this, and to watch the 2 million (and increasing) refugees flee their home nation for unknown destinations.
What, then, becomes of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s standing as a world leader? He becomes a pariah. Putin has become persona non grata among many leaders of what we know to be the civilized world.
The carnage continues. Ukraine is fighting back and delivering extensive damage to the supposedly vaunted Russian war machine. It’s not enough to just sit here and wish the Ukrainians well in their struggle for survival. Sadly, that’s all I — as one American patriot — can do.
I feel helpless … and I don’t like feeling that way.