There have been hundreds of columns written about the rise of a new “Red Dawn” under Russian President Vladimir Putin. Europe is a twitter (not the social media site) with concern about the Russian bear. President Obama is finishing up a trip to Europe and has called for sanctions against Russia for its actions in Crimea.
The world is waiting with baited breath for Putin’s next chess move perhaps into Ukraine. Gas prices are spiking, global fear is rising and America is cutting its military forces to pre-World War II levels. Those old enough to remember know what happens when America is weak and its eventual cost in blood and treasure. Talk of WW III abound.
Diplomacy is designed to prevent war. It is useless once the war has started. All war presupposes human weakness and seeks to exploit it. Prussian General and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz wrote:
Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat the enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst. War is merely the continuation of policy by other means.
President Obama is a kind hearted person, President Putin is not.
Raphael Israeli in his book “Defeat, Trauma, Lesson: Israel Between Life and Extinction”, writes, “All too often we celebrate our rare victories in slow motion, play and replay endlessly their every detail so as to savor them as if they were the natural state of affairs, but we tend to push our defeats to the corner, belittle and forget them.”
Israeli notes, “Winston Churchill has become the hero and icon of the Allied resistance in spite of his association with war, death and destruction, and Neville Chamberlain, his predecessor, has been encrusted in the pages of history as the defeatist and naïve ‘peacenik’ who sought peace at any price, but in his search of peace and honor ended up forfeiting both.”
Who will history view as today’s Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill?
President Obama has, since his election in 2008, had multiple bites at the apple to stand with peoples seeking liberty over repressive regimes. A second bite at the apple is defined as, “A second chance at an argument or negotiation previously lost.” President Obama may have a third bite at the apple of freedom if he decides to support the people of the Ukraine in their efforts to achieve liberty and independence from Russia. He has failed twice to make a strong argument against tyrannical regimes during his administration. As people died Obama remained silent.
The first failure was in 2009 during the Green Revolution in Iran. President Obama materially did nothing and the Green Revolution was put down violently by the Iranian regime. The winners: Russia and Iran. Loser: United States.
The second failure was in 2013 during the mass demonstrations against and overthrow of the Morsi regime in Egypt. President Obama materially did nothing and the people of Egypt prevailed. The winners: Egypt and Russia. Loser: United States.
Today President Obama is faced with yet another revolution but this time in the heart of Eastern Europe – the Ukraine.
As Clausewitz wrote, “Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult. If the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.”
Who is following the faint light – Obama or Putin?