By John Ruberry
“History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.” Ronald Reagan.
Contrary to the lessons that are almost certainly taught in American universities by leftist professors, large military budgets are not a precursor to war. In reality history teaches us something different.
As the Ottoman Empire declined in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Turks were faced with numerous rebellions and wars. They were on the losing side in nearly all of them, as ethnic groups and nations saw their opportunities, and for the most part, took them. One of those opportunistic states was the Austro-Hungarian Empire, itself in decline. Its annexation of Bosnia, nominally still part of the Ottoman Empire, in 1908 nearly caused a war in the Balkans. But a few years later there were two conflicts, the First Balkan War and the Second Balkan War, which, along with the assassination of the heir apparent of Austria-Hungary in Bosnia in 1914, and to be fair some other European disputes, set the table for World War I.
The First World War brought us World War II, arguably the same conflict with a two-decade intermission, which led to the Cold War, then the collapse of communism, with eventually, former KGB agent Vladimir Putin becoming the de facto president-for-life of Russia.
Do you see where weakness leads us?
Last year, with the inauguration of Joe Biden, an emphasis on wokeness and diversity was pushed by our military leaders, instead of more important things, such as defending America and confronting enemies. Far worse for the appearance of American military strength was the rapid fall of Afghanistan. As bad as the fall of Saigon was for the image of the USA, the South Vietnamese were able to hold off the communists for two years after the departure of American combat troops. Afghanistan fell before Joe Biden’s pullout date.
Which brings us back to Putin.
Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. As soon as this week, Russian troops, including some in Putin’s client-state of Belarus, could invade the rest of Ukraine. While I am not an advocate of sending troops to Ukraine, now that is, if Biden had sent a tripwire contingent of American and NATO ally troops to Ukraine last summer, that very well may have been enough to scare off Putin. We have troops in South Korea that aren’t sizable enough to defeat the North Koreans, but an invasion from the north would almost certainly lead to a national outrage and call for a swift response to avenge American casualties and to protect South Korea. There are NATO troops in the Baltic States, and yes, Estonia, Lativa, and Lithuania are members of NATO, which are serving a similar role.
For those calling for an economic boycott of Russia. Good luck with that. The best way to punish Russia in the pocketbook is to stop buying Russian oil and natural gas, the latter is a crucial energy source for western Europe. That will not happen.
Biden projected weakness early in his presidency by waiving sanctions against the Russian company building the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 originate in Vyborg, Russia. It’s important to remember that between the world wars, Vyborg was part of Finland, but the Soviet Union seized it in the Winter War of 1939-1940.
As for fossil fuels in America, Biden is instead hitching his shaky wagon to Green New Deal follies.
Humiliating defeats don’t necessarily lead to more debacles. The first major World War II battle between American forces and the Nazis was the Battle of Kasserine Pass in North Africa, it was a fiasco for the Allies.
What happened next?
The American commander, General Lloyd Fredendall, was sent stateside and was replaced by General George S. Patton.
After the Afghanistan rout, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, still has his job.
Was anyone fired after the fall of Kabul? I don’t believe so.
Worse, Putin likely sees Biden as not only weak, but as someone suffering from cognitive decline. At the very least, Biden and his top aides, were indecisive as Afghanistan collapsed, according to recently declassified documents.
Which brings us back to that Reagan quote.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.