The Russian invasion of Ukraine drags on, the brave Ukrainians and their courageous President hang on, and it seems that Joe Biden is willing to turn up the pressure on Vladimir Putin just enough that he won’t consider the moves a “provocation” for widening the conflict. Who do we think we’re kidding–we’re already deeply into a proxy war with our fingerprints all over the anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons that are wreaking havoc with the Russians; the swap deal with Poland for the Mig29 planes would just be one more step and one that would actually save Ukrainian lives, and former Senator Joe Lieberman makes the case that even a no-fly zone would be justified as an act of defense–the Russians are the invaders. Meanwhile, in the case of the additional economic sanctions, the White House has admitted that we have provided for a “phase in” period of four months for some of them in the interest of “multilateralism” as a priority and at the behest of energy-dependent European allies. What message does this send about U. S. and NATO leadership and resolve?
I am reminded of quotes by two former American presidents, each of which in their own way are relevant to the current crisis. The first is by John F. Kennedy from his inaugural address in January 1961: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge–and more.” Stirring words, and I’ve often wondered if he could even get the nomination of his party today with this kind of rhetoric. And I also wonder what kind of burden we are willing to bear.
The other quote is from Ronald Reagan in an interview several years before his election as President: “I’d like to tell you of my theory of the Cold War. Some people think that I am simplistic, but there is a fundamental difference between being simplistic and having simple answers to complex questions. So my theory of the Cold War is that we win and they lose.” And win we did, and they lost. I’ll bet he would have the same theory about the pending Cold War II.
What is Biden’s theory and endgame? Is he naive enough to believe that Putin is in any way looking for an “off-ramp” or partial settlement? Don’t think so–this is life or death for him. Nor do I think we should be looking for one–this invasion should not stand. Stay tuned.
Bill Close says
I see this as a more complex situation. I do not think that you can argue that the Ukraine is not involved in this–they are a corrupt nation. remember Biden’s son ?
I for one do not see Russia as much of the aggressor as it being fully aware of the long standing conflicts that these two countries have with each other.
As in all wars–the general population suffers while the governments squabble.
Bob Juba says
Notwithstanding the fact that the Hunter Biden stuff is largely unsubstantiated, what level of “corruption” within Ukraine would justify Putin’s invasion? As Jim intones the words of Ronald Reagan, it pains me to see so many modern “conservatives” taking the Kremlin line on relations with Europe, NATO expansion, etc.
Biden stumbled badly on implementing Trump’s Afghan withdrawal, but thus far his team seems to be doing a fine job unifying NATO and countering Russia’s aggression. It’s a shame that Americans can’t set aside partisan differences at a time of international crisis. America’s political culture has become unserious and infantile (even while our leaders are really old). Nuclear saber-rattling from Putin makes me think that this is a serious time that calls for serious leaders.
Jim Windham says
Good points, Bob. As I have suggested, John F. Kennedy probably couldn’t get the Democratic nomination for president today.
Greg Stachura says
Spectator World.com–March 8, 2022
TIME FOR EUROPE TO MAN UP: VLADIMIR PUTIN HAS NO RESPECT FOR DAVOS MAN
by Guy Shepherd
The End of History has ended. It officially ended with Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
Francis Fukuyama wrote The End of History in the early Nineties. It’s a book that captures the optimistic zeitgeist of that decade — born of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of communism.
The basic idea was that once communism faded away — the reality, not the ideal, which will forever exist in the minds of many intellectuals — the world would become a more liberal, democratic and commercial place.
It was an argument with real legs. East Germany was digested by the West without a burp. The Baltic states prospered. Asia took off. A rising commercial tide lifted all boats.
Since then, the world stage has been increasingly occupied and guided by Davos Man — a rational, technocratic economic citizen of the world; the very culmination of history itself.
A central-casting example of Davos Man is John Kerry, America’s jet-setting, deal-making, profiting secretary for the environment. Kerry was morally outraged and scandalized by Putin’s nineteenth-century invasion of Ukraine. Didn’t Putin know that such anachronistic efforts are not allowed or tolerated in the European theater? (The Middle East and Africa are still okay though…)
It turns out that Putin does not respect Davos Man. He thinks Davos Man is weak and he is strong. Davos Man lacks the courage to defend what he deems his own. Putin believes there is little that Davos Man sees as worth shedding his own blood for.
In stark contrast, this nineteenth-century relic of a man is willing shed blood and absorb the consequences. Putin sees the word and calibrates statecraft through the lens of the nation and national prestige — which is inseparable from his own person. Nineteenth-century guys are dangerous, particularly when they hold twenty-first-century arms.
The story of history is the story of the Strong Man plundering the Weak Man. In short, if you can’t defend what’s yours, it’s not yours. This is how borders are drawn and peoples forged. If we want out of history, we need more than what John Kerry — and his miniature version, Antony Blinken — bring to the table.
The question before us now is whether Davos Man is capable of effectively standing up to nineteenth-century Man. Presently, Davos Man is pushing back with the only tools in his statecraft toolbox: shaming and “crippling sanctions,” along with arm’s-length provisions of weaponry and intel.
If the sanctions work — and I hope they do — Europe and the United States owe a Marshall Plan to Ukraine and an apology to Volodymyr Zelensky for not answering his call for sanctions as a deterrent to invasion.
It must be painful for Ukrainians to watch Western intelligence congratulating itself — and being praised in the media — for knowing exactly what Putin’s intentions were (which, by the way, were publicly delivered). All the heads of European nations — Zelensky included — were aware of Putin’s intentions.
All Western intelligence added were the movements of people and materiel on the ground. They saw the future, they knew what was coming, and they chose not to deploy the only real weapon in their arsenal. Unlike with bombs, sanctions can be easily turned on and off.
Statesmanship is seeing what is coming down the pike and marshaling the national attention and resources required. This is what Churchill did. He saw the gathering storm of Nazism and told his people the truth — sadly to no avail. Yet at least they were warned, and bore not only the pain that came from not heeding the warnings but also the responsibility.
Zelensky should have known what was coming. He knew that Putin was going invade and that his justification, which his nineteenth-century brain could not countenance, was the threat of Ukraine joining NATO.
Zelensky should have tried to parlay a deal with Putin — with the US as a backstop — that Ukraine would not join NATO. Who knows if this would have assuaged Putin? In fact, we will never know. Looking at the rubble of Ukraine’s cities, the dead, the wounded and the fleeing, it seems a failure of leadership on Zelensky’s part to have not tried.
A wise man ought to know his limitations and the limitations of his allied partners. Zelensky did not want a ride out of town and out of trouble. He said he was going to stay and fight — but the bullets he needed should have been bought or begged before the the war started. Without the materiel and lacking in preemptive backup support, he should have made a deal. After that deal was inked, he could have regrouped and armed his nation for another day.
While Ukraine is being reduced to rubble, it appears European Man is waking out of his end-of-history slumber.
In defense of European Man’s martial weakness, it’s a natural, intentional byproduct of American foreign policy. Sorry, guys. The intent of NATO was to outsource European self-defense to the United States.
The natural and necessary consequence of this dependence on another’s arms is the creation of pusillanimous nations led by ungrateful egomaniacs with inferiority complexes. Europe has slept comfortably under a blanket of freedom that it does not pay for and lives longer thanks to drugs it does not develop. News alert: we aren’t too fond of you either.
Europe’s most important contribution to the world is championing independence from fossil fuels. In their defense, they show no interest in living up to their own talk. Germany, the most prosperous and green-conscious member of the EU, was in the process of becoming energy-dependent on Russia, the very country that provoked the creation of NATO for Europe’s protection. That level of idiocy is enabled by American foreign policy welfare. Again, our apologies.
For Europe’s sake, and ours, we need to wake up to history’s present requirements.
The time has come for Germany and Europe to lean on the United States for their energy needs, not their security needs, and for the United States to get back to drilling and building the infrastructure needed to fuel the free world. Also, Germany — if it really gives a shit about the environment, the physics of energy and the needs of its economy — just might build more than a few nuclear power plants. If ideology keeps a nation from doing what is existentially required, it deserves to reap the consequences of what it sows.
Most importantly, Germany and the rest of Europe need to immediately start arming themselves to defend their own interests with their own arms. Many European nations have started doing this since the outset of Russia’s invasion. To ensure the necessary recovery of Europe’s martial spirit, the United States needs to restructure its support and its on-the-ground participation in NATO.
The rationale that the United States is the guarantor of European security no longer makes sense. Davos Man has made Europe wealthy. Wealthy and weak — with our help. Individually and collectively, European Man needs to get his martial mojo back.
The United States will happily sell you the arms to rise to the occasion. But it’s worth repeating: the American taxpayer and soldier is no longer that into you.
It’s time for Europe to man up. It’s time for you to stop imagining a world you cannot afford or defend unless you go from 2 percent of GDP to 20 percent. If you do this, you’ll like the European Man in the mirror, and the nineteenth-century men — and the nations they command — just might leave you to enjoy your peace and prosperity.
Dr Tom says
Bill Close makes a false argument, that Ukraine as a nation and as a people are corrupt and thus somehow deserve to be invaded, blown to smithereens,for being “corrupt” as a nation and people by surrendering to our VPs blackmail threats (his bragging about this is in the public record) on behalf of his son’s moral corruption by taking a million a year for sitting on Burisma’s Board though entirely ignorant about the oil and gas production industry in general.
The corruption which you claim of Ukraine is an extraordinary justification for invasion by a much stronger, indeed huge, and very corrupt nation.
You had best reevaluate your own ethics and morals.
Jim Windham says
Thanks, Tom. And I would remind my friend Bill that this is war–we’re not judging a beauty contest. Again from Bush 43: we can’t chose our war, we can only choose whose side we are on.
Jim Windham says
Thanks for this post, Greg. I pretty much agree with everything Shepherd has said here except the suggestion that Zelensky should have made a deal with Putin on NATO.
As for his explanation of the evolution of Davos Man, there is a very good treatment of this phenomenon by Michael Rectenwald in the December 2021 issue of Hillsdale’s Imprimis entitled “What is the Great Reset”, which you have probably seen.
Dr Tom says
Greg’s long post seems to be a column from Britain’s Spectator World.
I’ve noticed that Brit news sources are better at accurately reporting America’s woes, like BLM/Antifa riots with their extensive criminality including arson, that our now totally leftist MSM is (with their claims “the riots were ‘mostly peaceful’ in Portland”). But I see no reason to trust their “analysis”.
I welcome the death of Davos Man, if death there be. Just wait a few months. Davos Man will rise again. The global elites must prosper!
The great tragedy of Ukraine is everyone in the public and surely Austin, Blinken, and Biden, the Winkin’, Blinken and Nod of our times, saw the Russian military buildup for months and months before the actual invasion. And did nothing.
I celebrate the death of Davos man, if he will not be resurrected. In a globalist world not except the Elites will matter; the rest of us will be serfs.
But think on the modern anti-God, pro-abortion, open borders Democratic Party.
Clinton declared a peace dividend, lowered defense spending, and 100,000 skilled defense workers just in CA promptly lost their jobs. Barack Hussein Obama declared a “red line” after Syria poison-gassed its citizens, and the result was one (uno!) cruise missile that struck a pharmaceutical plant. Did either of them work to strengthen NATO? No, of course not. George W neither. The border? Nah, we’ll make them citizens and they’ll vote Democratic forever (kinda like what LBJ said about blacks and his Civil Rights bill in 1964, but he used the N-word). Only Trump did, the “Orange Hair Bad” person.
Finally, the days of FDR and national resolve are way behind us. The Dems fear a nuclear assault so much they tremble just like the Better Red than Dead crowd of the 1960s. They have forgotten about Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and Putin with his threats of escalation knows America has turned into a nation of chickens, not poker players.
Danny Billingsley says
Jim,, you kicked open a box of hornets here. Good analysis by all. The only ideas I can bring to this discussion is President Zelensky had probably given up on America’s help after being promised to defend them if they gave up their nuclear weapons inherited from USSR, which we acted like never took place. The other is the question of corruption. We need to be very careful when we accuse other nations of corruption, given our recent history and as Greg says, the advent of Davos Man. Add to that corruption, a president that has been lying the last 50 years about everything, including Corn Pop. He’s neither a serious man nor one to be trusted at home or abroad.
david redford says
Good comments by you folks. Kennedy’s comments were inspiring but the theory led us thru Vietnam. It is good that we have some serious people in charge and can only thank the good lord that Trump is not in charge. He loves Putin and does not have the desire or talent to rally our allies for a united effort to help Ukraine. This must be a united effort with no time for Putin apologists.
Dr Tom says
I respectfully regret david’s anti-Trump slander. I say again that before serious negotiations begin, one does not slander one’s opponent. Talk is cheap! Trump told our allies to increase their defense spending instead of cockamamie plans to destroy nuclear power plants and become more dependent on oil/gas supply from Russia.
Danny Billingsley says
Murder cops have a number of beliefs that guide their violent and dark lives. Among them:
1) Do not believe anyone until you can prove it is true.
2) There is no such thing as a coincident unless you prove it.
3) No one is above scrutiny.
4) Guilty people try to deflect blame by accusing others.
5) Always beware of the hum Didi hum Didi factor Thats when a person talks in circles.
6) Do not believe the person that brings a Bible to an interview
7) Do not believe the man that ends a story by saying, “and that’s the truth, or “I’m not lying or “I swear to God”.
8) Never believe the man that lies about small insignificant things, like encounters with a gang leader named Corn Pop, because he’ll lie about everything.
If a man hit 4 or 5 of the 8 put the cuffs on.
Does that fit anyone you know? Here Brandon, put these on.
Tim Phillips says
The real Davos Man is Klaus Schwab, and his master plan is well under way. High hydrocarbon energy prices will crush the middle class and the poor globally through hyper-inflation. The end game of this is to artificially move the world to non-hydrocarbon-based energy in the new world religion of climate change (sans nuclear – which is the real answer if you want to make the transition affordably). Climate change is the greatest sham global scheme in human history. Adam Smith is spinning in his grave.