Tag Archives: Ukraine

Vietnam analogy takes shape?

There appears to be a sort of Vietnam analogy possibly taking shape on the battlefields in Ukraine. I can’t quite get my arms completely around it, but I do sense a certain similarity coming into focus.

More than 50 years ago, the United States was engaged in a death struggle with Vietnamese forces over control of South Vietnam. The United States won virtually every military engagement against the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army. We did not win the hearts and minds of the people.

So, U.S. and North Vietnamese negotiators ventured to Paris to work out an agreement to end hostilities. The agreement came to pass in January 1973. We pulled our forces out but by April 1975, North Vietnam was able to roll its tanks into Saigon and rename the city after Ho Chi Minh.

Fast forward to the present day.

Russia has invaded Ukraine. The Russians are unable to win over Ukrainians’ hearts and souls. Ukraine is waging a hell of a fight to save their country, much as the Vietnamese did against our forces in the1960s and 1970s. The Russian advance has been stalled. Ukraine is taking back some of the territory it lost in the initial combat.

Now we hear that Russia is beginning to give a little in talks with Ukraine. Might there be an agreement reached that could end this senseless slaughter? Might the Ukrainians be able to declare some form of “victory” against a vastly superior military force?

OK, so the Vietnam-Ukraine analogy isn’t aligned perfectly. I do see enough similarity, though, to suggest that Ukraine might have been able to “win the war” while losing all the “battles” on its way to ending the Russian onslaught.

Let us not forget, either, that the U.S.-led economic sanctions are crippling the Russians to the point of disabling them from continuing the fight.


Worried about Taiwan

While the world recoils in horror at what is transpiring in Ukraine and wondering whether China is taking notes on what lies ahead for another potential conflict, I want to offer a brief word of worry about a possible target of Chinese aggression.

It sits off the China coast. Taiwan has been a thriving nation of its own since 1949, when Chiang kai-Shek’s government set up shop in Taipei after losing a bloody civil war with the communists.

China wants Taiwan back. It has been threatening to take the island nation back ever since the end of the conflict on the mainland. Whether Russia succeeds in its effort to subdue Ukraine could spell a heap of trouble for China and for Taiwan.

My interest in Taiwan is personal. I have been there five times, starting in 1989. I returned in 1994, in 1999, 2007 and 2010. My first visit came at the end of a grueling three-week tour of Southeast Asia. Taiwan was still under martial law. It lifted the martial law between my first and second visits.

The country is as independent from China these days as it possibly could be … except that it hasn’t declared its independence. It dare not make the declaration, as it would enrage the communists on the mainland to the point of launching an invasion of their own to retake the island.

Taiwan’s population now consists almost entirely of people who were born there. Few Taiwanese have any direct tie to China. The country is a thriving democracy. Taiwan is an economic powerhouse. It also possesses a stout military apparatus that benefits from a defense agreement with the United States.

To be clear, Taiwan has few diplomatic allies, in that the world recognizes only “one China.” That happens to be the one that governs in Beijing. However, the reality is that even though Taiwan once was part of China, it now considers itself to be a separate nation. Yes, it is a curious and complicated matter that cannot be solved easily and cleanly.

I cannot pretend to know how this will play out. President Biden has been talking extensively with Chinese leaders since war broke out in Ukraine. I keep hearing that Biden has persuaded the Chinese to stay out of the Russia-Ukraine fight; that it shouldn’t send arms to Russia. That suits me just fine.

If the Ukrainians somehow can broker an end to the fighting without Russia marching into Kyiv, then there could be some hope that China would have to rethink whatever aspirations it has about taking Taiwan back in a fight to the finish.

Believe this, too: Taiwan will fight like hell for their country just as Ukrainians are fighting for theirs.

It all still brings cause for worry.


8 GOP lawmakers vote against Russia sanction

Eight Republicans stood in the way of legislation passing through the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously and, thus, sending another clear message of strength against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A bill that would have revoked U.S.-Russia normal trade relations sailed through the House on a clear and decisive bipartisan vote. Except for the eight GOP nimrods who opposed it.

I don’t know who all of them are, but I surely do recognize several of the dipsh**s over their past behavior and idiotic blathering.

GOP Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Thomas Massie of Kentucky all are familiar (more or less) to me. The others are Andy Biggs of Arizona, Dan Bishop of North Carolina and Glen Grothman of Wisconsin.

The first five of are your standard, run-of-the-mill GOP nut jobs. Greene, Boebert and Gaetz perhaps are the most well-known. Gaetz, let’s recall, might be indicted soon on a sex-trafficking charge. Boebert and Greene are the twin QAnon queens of the House. Roy is just, well, a Texas Republican … so that’s all I need to say about him. Massie is another fruitcake.

What is so bizarre is that these eight GOP outliers stand in stark contrast to what I consider to be traditional Republican antagonism to anything dealing with Russia or its immediate predecessor, the Soviet Union.

They all seem to parrot the thinly veiled praise of Russian thug Vladimir Putin that comes from The Donald, who remains their hero despite his insistence on pushing The Big Lie forward about the 2020 presidential election and the non-existent “widespread vote fraud.”

Oh, well. I’ll just go on now and take care of the rest of the day’s activities that await me. I just had to get this little annoyance off my chest.


Impeachment ‘ghost’ haunts

Try as I have done to avoid mentioning the impeachments of Donald J. Trump, I have discovered that the first impeachment deserves a mention on this blog. So … please forgive me this brief screed.

The Donald got Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the phone and said he needed a “favor, though.” The favor The Donald sought was for Zelenskyy to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Joe Biden was considered a likely 2020 presidential candidate and the guy The Donald reportedly feared. In exchange for the dirt, Trump would allow Zelenskyy to receive the military aid package he sought from the United States.

Trump denied the package. Why? Because Zelenskyy wouldn’t do what The Donald wanted.

For that “perfect phone call,” The Donald got impeached by the House of Representatives.

Why mention it here? Because Ukraine once again is trying to obtain military assistance. I cannot stop wondering whether Ukraine would have fared even better against the Russian aggressors had they obtained the missiles and ordnance they were promised by Congress, but denied by The Donald, who sought a bizarre political favor from President Zelenskyy, which I considered at the time to be a criminal act.

The Donald survived both impeachments. Ukraine, though, became a victim of a U.S. president’s insatiable quest for power and is paying the price at this moment.



Biden deserves praise for bring allies on board

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.


Russia: third-rate power

Barry McCaffrey knows military matters better than just about anyone on Earth. I mean, the guy served combat tours in Vietnam, then rose through the ranks to get four stars pinned on his uniform. He served was a division commander and then led the Central Command in the Middle East.

So … when retired Army Gen. McCaffrey describes Russia as a “third-rate military power,” I tend to believe him. He does offer an important caveat, which is that Russia possesses a first-rate nuclear arsenal. As for its conventional fighting prowess, McCaffrey isn’t impressed with the way the Russians fight conventional battles.

All of this is my way of suggesting that McCaffrey could be onto something when he suggests that Ukraine might be able to earn enough of a battlefield stalemate against the Russian aggressors to force the Russian despot Vladimir Putin to seek some sort of “exit ramp” off the field of battle.

I have said all along — and I don’t proclaim to have any special knowledge of this — that Ukraine isn’t defenseless against the Russian onslaught. Ukraine does have a significant army and air force. It has been shooting down Russian aircraft and it certainly has inflicted a significant number of casualties among Russian personnel.

Putin well might have deluded himself into thinking the Russian armed forces would waltz into Kyiv, declare victory and then set up a puppet government all in short order. That ain’t happening.

Which takes me back to the start of this post. If the Russians are a third-rate conventional military power, what is their dictator thinking when he sends his personnel into battle against a force determined to protect its homeland against naked aggression?


Helpless: that’s how I feel

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.


Putin won’t surrender, however …

Let’s not be swept away by reports of how Russian invaders are being “bogged down” in their advance toward key cities in Ukraine as this hideous ground war slogs on.

The Russian army is not about to raise the white flag of surrender, accept terms dictated by Ukraine and then skulk back across the border to the Motherland. However …

This is not to dismiss the tons of good will and support that is falling on the Ukrainians who are fighting for their lives and for the life of their sovereign country. The love is coming from throughout the world.

President Biden is tightening the economic screws on Russia, its oligarchs and certainly on the dictator, Vladimir Putin, who well might have reached a bit beyond his grasp by invading Ukraine in an effort to reel the nation back into what is left of the Russian empire.

Intelligence reports tell us of morale problems among Russian soldiers who marched into Ukraine believing it would be a cakewalk. We hear about Ukrainian forces shooting down Russian aircraft (fixed-wing and helicopters). The ghastliest reports of all tell us of Russian ordnance falling on hospitals, schools, houses of worship, inflicting grievous casualties on helpless civilians, including children.

Vladimir Putin doesn’t strike me as someone who gives a sh** about worldwide public opinion. He damn sure should care, though, about the opinion of Russians who hear the bad news from the media about what is going on in Ukraine.

Will the Russian populace rise up to protest what the strongman is doing? How inept leadership has relegated Russia to third-rate economic power status?

I don’t expect Putin to end the monstrous invasion in the next day or two. The longer this man’s military cluster-hump goes on, though, the worse he looks. As near as I can tell, Putin’s ego cannot tolerate the battering it is taking as the invasion he launched continues to fall short of the expectation he set for it.


Drill, baby, drill

All this chatter about the impact of President Biden’s decision to ban Russian oil imports in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine misses an important point.

The price of crude has zoomed skyward. It is well north of $100 per barrel. The last time we saw this kind of price hike, the result was that American oil drillers uncapped their wells and got their pumpjacks fired up to start pulling the oil out of the ground.

Do you think it could happen again now that the Russians have launched a ground war in Europe and caused the world to react as it has done by essentially boycotting Russian petroleum products?

I can see it happening.

I spent many years in West Texas, and I can speak from experience about what I have witnessed during previous oil-price spikes. We would drive through the Permian Basin, or the South Plains east of Lubbock and we would witness those pumpjacks working relentlessly to pull oil out of the flat land. We saw much the same thing as we motored through the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Oil producers need little if any government incentive to realize when it’s profitable for them to get to work.

At these prices, they are able to make a healthy profit on delivering the goods.


War grabs media’s attention

War has this way of grabbing everyone’s attention, even yanking other compelling stories off the front page, pushing them off the air, relegating them to “old news.”

So it is these days with a ground war erupting in Ukraine. Russian armed forces have invaded a neighboring, sovereign nation on the orders of dictator Vladimir Putin. Media around the world are reporting on it to us who want to know how this war will play out.

I am unsure how I feel about our limited attention span. I remain deeply interested in the congressional inquiry into the cause of the 1/6 insurrection. Moreover, I want to know how the House committee is progressing in its search for the truth. It will get there in due course and I plan to be waiting with bated breath when the panel reaches its finish line.

President Biden has an aggressive agenda to help boost our already-recovering economy. It is stalled in the Senate. I want to know whether the president can parlay his extensive legislative experience into working out a compromise that can push the Build Better Back bill — or some facsimile of it — to a fruitful conclusion.

There remains a boatload of issues to be resolved, if only congressional Republicans can find a way to work the Democratic president instead of obstructing him at every turn.

OK, so all of that will still be there once our attention looks elsewhere, once we remove our gaze from Ukraine. I want that moment to arrive sooner rather than later. Not because I lust for a chance to see all those matters resolve … but because I want an end to the bloodshed.