When To Run; When To Fight
In 1978, a four-part television miniseries called “Holocaust” was broadcast on American TV. It was very controversial as it depicted the beginning rumblings and the ultimate results of the Nazi’s Final Solution through the eyes of a German Jewish family that was victimized and a Christian one whose members supported the Nazis. I have only the vaguest of recollections of the show other than it was both star-studded (early Meryl Streep) and powerful. But I remember one thing more. For some reason I was watching an episode with my visiting parents in our home in Potomac, Maryland. In that episode the son in the Jewish family runs from the Nazis to join the resistance. The rest of the family perishes. My mother turned to me and said, “Remember that. When you can. Run!”
It is sometimes difficult to communicate to our children and grandchildren, that being brought up in the shadow of the end of World War II as we were, the effects of the war on the Jewish community in America were still profound and raw even as late as the 1970s. My parents were always waiting for the “knock on the door.” They thought for certain that after President Kennedy was assassinated and Lee Harvey Oswald was killed on live television two days later, the country was being taken over by the forces of evil. To them, forces of evil were Nazis. My parents never rested easy and never, and I mean never, bought anything made in Germany—West or East. They would be appalled at the hunks of steel in our garage right now.
The advice to “run” comes to mind now because the Ukrainians have nowhere to run from the Russian assault although over two million have fled the country, mostly to the NATO countries to the west, countries that used to be in the Warsaw Pact. It is more than ironic that a Jewish president of Ukraine is being accused of leading a Nazi regime by Putin and that Jew has decided to stand his ground and fight—a latter day David or Judah Maccabee.
In the late 1930s, when Hitler’s intent for European domination was clear to some in the west (Winston Churchill), many in the United States and Great Britain chose appeasement, which was a form of running. Perhaps that seemed like a good idea at the time. It wasn’t. Sometimes you have to fight.
Putin, like Hitler and Stalin, will not stop with the destruction of Ukraine. He is coming for the rest of the ex-Soviet sphere of influence and that includes states that are now part of NATO like Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
I have been soundly criticized for urging NATO and the U.S. to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine because it will undoubtedly put NATO and American war planes in the position to have to shootdown Russian fighters and start WWIII in Europe. Well, guess what. You can shoot them down over the skies of Kyiv or over the skies of Berlin.
We are at a critical moment in world history trying in vain to find a Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt who understands what’s at stake and what’s at risk. That leader may be President Zelensky and he deserves far more support than we are giving him right now. The West had better wise up to Putin. He’s not rational and he’s not going to give in to diplomacy or negotiation. He’s made that as clear as he did his intent to invade Ukraine. The current thinking on the left is that we, that is President Biden, has done all he can if we are to help the Ukrainians and avoid a nuclear world war. Baloney! Putin is not going to risk his yacht and his billions over this.
Here’s what we should have done and can still do.
First, amass a western fighting force of 200,000 in the NATO countries that border Russia. Make sure Putin knows we mean business. He thinks that’s his gang’s turf. Let’s show him he’s wrong.
Second, the no-fly zone should have been thrown up as soon as Russian troops advanced to the Ukrainian border, but it’s not too late. Give Putin warning and heed Zelensky’s call for help. Put the NATO planes in the air and dare Putin to challenge them. NATO has a military force. It has five times the air power the Russians have. Now is the time to use it.
Third, sanction everything coming from Russia even oil and gas. (Biden finally did.) It may be only 3-4% of our oil imports, but it’s not nothing. The American people may have to sacrifice another 15 cents per gallon, but freedom is on the line.
Finally, introduce a resolution in the United Nations that should the Russians even hint at the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine (and some think that they already have), we will put the entire nuclear arsenal of the west on high alert. Mutually Assured Destruction has worked for 80 years. I fully understand what I am saying, but it was Putin who put his arsenal on high alert and made the first threat. We cannot be bullied and the Europeans had better wake up yet again. Today’s Hitler is no different than the one from 1938. He’s coming and you cannot run. Fight now or fight later. It’s Europe’s choice. The post-Cold War world is over. It’s a new dawn.