I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have history and experience in that part of the world as my guide. You see, as a former “Cold War” throwback, I do tend to have less than a trusting view of our Russian friends. As an amateur historian, I have even less of a trusting view, especially of a people with an openly stated goal of restoring their “empire.” During the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, I was quite entertained at how the history of Russia was depicted. Seeing their history from their point of view is always entertaining, and their song and dance opening was no exception. Unfortunately, there is reality of the Tzarist Pogroms, their several revolutions in the early 1900s, and then of course, there was Stalin. There are other examples throughout their history, but face it, these are the things that some here will recognize. Regardless, the truth will completely fly in the face of their fantasy view of history. If you doubt me, then by all means, I would invite you to a number of sources for your reading pleasure. Simply put, there is a dangerous situation presented to our own strategic interests, especially when you examine the stated policies of the “Russian Bear” in and around the Arctic region.
My final example, and food for thought for today, is something that hasn’t been stated yet in the news. In 1939, a world leader was concerned for the former nationals of his country that were now in several adjoining countries. They spoke the same language, were formerly citizens of his nation, and were interconnected by history and beliefs. Using this as an excuse, Adolf Hitler promptly marshaled his forces and invaded his neighbors to allow them to be a part of his great Third Reich. This was his basis for invading Sudetenland, Austria, Prussia, and finally Poland, thus triggering what we now know as World War II. He took these actions, all under the guise of gathering the “German” speaking populations back to the bosom of their “homeland.” How is this different? We are seeing the same behavior by a world leader who is interested in rebuilding his former empire, and whether it is a Reich or the USSR, the presumption of taking away the dignity and sovereignty of a neighboring country should be repellant to all of us.
I realize that here in the United States we’re tired of war, and we’re sick of being involved in other countries’ issues, but again, history is the teacher. After World War I, Americans were sick of war and the horror it brings to everyone involved. We preferred to sit back and let Europe handle their own problems from 1919 until 1939. After all, “avoid foreign entanglements” was quite the mantra in the 1930s. We had a peace dividend going for us, and our Armed Forces were drawn down to a minimal strength to reflect our need for peace. If anyone sees any parallel here, then by all means, you are not alone. Our enemies around the globe are not drawing down, just as they weren’t drawing down in the 1930s and early 1940s. Rest assured, we’re falling into the trap of “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” As our Armed Forces are drawn down to “Pre-World War II” levels, and the threat increases exponentially from places like Russia, China, and Iran, we have to recognize that war when it comes (notice I said when and not if), will be far more costly. We will no longer be able to prevent a war from a position of strength, or fight it with sufficient assets to do much more than stall for time, but instead are setting ourselves up to be the victim. What terrifies me personally is that stalling won’t be enough for the kind of war that could be coming sooner than later, and with our end strength and technology taking it in the “knickers,” we are leaving the door open to some pretty bad actors. Just something to ponder, but make no mistake, we are pondering at our peril. ~ Michael S. Pauley