The strength of evil lies in the weakness of the good. This statement sums up Russia’s aggression in the recent invasion of Crimea and the West’s cowardly and apathetic response. To our great shame, as Putin tests the mettle of our political leaders with another totalitarian aggression, he finds little serious reaction and thus feels free to do as he wishes.
Blocking travel visas for some individuals of the nomenklatura and freezing their assets in the U.S. was not a bad idea, but it is way too little, and too late as well. Media reports affirm that Russia has moved the bulk of its U.S. treasury bonds valued at $132 billion, out of America’s reach.
But apart from a limp promise to Kiev of a $1 billion loan, and some military clothing and Meals-Ready-to-Eat, the travel bans and asset-freezing were pretty much the extent of American help for the Ukraine’s Western-leaning government. One can only wonder if Haiti, Indonesia, and other countries who suffered natural disasters in recent years did not receive greater largesse than this….
Certainly the frugal assistance is not for the lack of ideas, which are being suggested in the media by commentators and analysts: the immediate reversal of the downsizing of the U.S. Armed Forces; an immediate and sizeable boost in the Pentagon’s budget; the immediate deployment of U.S. military trainers to the Ukraine; the immediate deployment to Kiev of a NATO rapid deployment combat brigade; the opening up to Kiev of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry from existing arsenals in Europe; the immediate approval of the Keystone pipeline and the fast-tracked and facilitated approval of the export of U.S. natural gas to Europe; the immediate implementation of the scuttled plans for a European missile shield; the immediate holding of NATO joint maneuvers with the Ukraine and Georgia; the immediate admission of Georgia and the Ukraine as NATO members, etc.
However, these and other measures would represent the abandonment of a wrongheaded and failed foreign policy that apologizes for American strength and undermines its benevolent global leadership. It would be the return to something akin to the “decisive action” central to President Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy, so well summarized in his “Speak softly, and carry a big stick!”
Vigorous actions like these would not just garner Putin’s immediate and devoted attention, but the world’s too. Most importantly, they would convey the unmistakable message to our allies around the world, that American friendship means something, and can always be relied on.
But the United States should do much more than this.
To be true to its past and the American people, we should sidestep the quadriplegic paralysis of the United Nations and the European Union, and forge a new “Coalition of the Willing” with the nations of Eastern Europe for whom the Gulag and other Communist atrocities are all too vivid. The March 14, 2014 signing of a pact between the countries of the 1991 Visegrád alliance (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), which creates a joint military body, is a public affirmation that these former Warsaw Pact countries are indeed willing. Lithuania too is willing, as evidenced by its 2009 consent to the formation of a Lithuanian-Polish-Ukranian brigade. And, of course, Georgia has been willing for years. Moldova will be willing. Romania, Bulgaria, and Armenia might be also.
This stout and coherent American leadership would undo much of the harm caused by our foreign policy failures of recent years. It would begin to wipe away the blemish to our honor when President Franklin Roosevelt tacitly acquiesced to Communist dominion of Eastern Europe in the 1945 Yalta Conference. It would undo the dishonor we showed by not aiding Hungary in its heroic 1956 uprising, and the people of Czechoslovakia in 1968, when these countries tried to extricate themselves from under the Soviet boot. It would undo our abandonment of the Cuban and Vietnamese peoples.
It would affirm to the world, that America is sorry for much of its past and ready to lead again.