A widely offered explanation for the Russian invasion of Ukraine is that Russia – which at present basically means President Vladimir Putin – fears NATO expansion on its borders, especially Ukraine. . The argument is often presented as an analogy: how would the United States react if Mexico had a mutual defense pact with Russia and received weapons from Russia?
A second explanation is that Russia is “paranoid” because it was devastated by invasions from Napoleonic France in the 19th century and Hitler’s Germany in the 20th. This is the excuse that many professional excuse makers have used for the Soviet Union shooting down – without any warning – Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in 1983, killing all 269 passengers and crew.
“Russians are paranoid” has become a popular explanation. Seymour Hersh, the New York Times’ best-known investigative reporter for decades, wrote a book about the killing of KAL 007. As described in a 1986 New York Times book review, “On the Soviet side, writes Mr. Hersh, there was paranoia.”
When I was a graduate student at Columbia University’s Russian Institute, I regularly encountered the “paranoid” explanation of Soviet/Russian policies. It seemed to me then, and even more so now, as pathological or wrong, or both. Russia is by far the largest country on the planet, covering about one-ninth of the world’s entire land surface. When this fact is combined with Russia’s vast nuclear armament, the “paranoid” explanation for Russian aggression becomes absurd.
This is even more absurd when you consider the countries that Russia fears will invade. Which of their western border countries – Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine – is likely to invade Russia? Haven’t they all been invaded by Russia? Shouldn’t they all be paranoid?
We’ll end the “paranoid” discussion with this rule of the story: Generally speaking, wars are fought either between two police states or between a police state and a free state. And these are almost always initiated or provoked by the police state. Russia has nothing to fear from its neighbors. Its neighbors have much to fear from Russia.
2. America watches, does not intervene.
I don’t know of any right-wing or left-leaning American who has called for the US military to be sent to Ukraine. But every American should feel awful—morally and as an American—as America sits and watches the first major invasion of a peaceful country since Hitler and Stalin. One reason is that since World War II, the world’s weaker nations have all held out hope that if attacked by a stronger nation, Americans would come to their aid.
America is helping Ukraine with weapons and economic sanctions, but as I watch peaceful Ukraine being devoured by aggressive Russia, I can’t help but think that it seems evil will triumph – and lead to more evil on Earth. I never agreed with the throwaway line, “America is not the policeman of the world.” Doesn’t the world need a policeman? And if not America, who? China? Russia? The UN?
If the strongest boy in high school, the one the weakest boys and girls turned to for protection, ever decided to watch them rather than protect them as they were beaten up by the school bully , even if there was a good reason for the absence of intervention , wouldn’t it be a very sad day? And wouldn’t that affect how the protector perceived himself?
Most Americans see themselves as protectors of the weak against bullying nations. This is the first time in our lifetime that America has given up this role.
No. 3: A comedian is the most courageous political leader in the world.
In the general opinion of the world media and the nations of the world, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the bravest leader in the world today.
For many people, this is all the more remarkable since Zelenskyy’s professional background is that of an actor. It’s amazing to most people that a comedian turns out to be the most inspiring leader in the world.
This, of course, is why so many fired Donald Trump when he ran for president: “He has no political experience, he’s just a wealthy real estate developer.” However, this real estate developer also turned out to be the bravest leader in the world. Honest Trump haters must at least acknowledge his courage — just as supporters must acknowledge his lack of a filter between his brain and his mouth.
It was Trump who had the courage to demand that our NATO allies meet their military spending obligations. Ironically, thanks to Putin, NATO countries are finally doing it. It was Trump who uncovered a state of deep corruption in almost every major US government institution. It was Trump who took on the mainstream media, considered by half of Americans to be little better than Pravda, the Soviet newspaper. It was Trump who had the courage to do what President after President and Congress after Congress called for but never acted on: move the US Embassy in Israel to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. He did so despite opposition from nearly every world leader and his own State Department. If that’s not courage, what is?
And it remains a fact that Putin did not invade Ukraine while Trump was president. Putin feared Trump. Neither Putin nor anyone else fears President Joe Biden.
It is therefore not at all surprising that a comedian is the most courageous leader in the world. It is surprising that people still think that a lifetime political career produces leaders. Biden is a lifelong politician and, as his behavior during COVID-19 has shown, he may well be the least courageous president in American history.
4. Western environmentalists made the invasion possible.
It is extremely likely that American and European environmentalists made the Russian invasion of Ukraine possible. Under Trump, America became energy independent and was even able to supply Europe with energy. But the environmental movement, which dominates the Democratic Party and almost all Western European countries, has made Russia the main supplier of natural gas to Europe, and in particular to the most important country on the European continent, the Germany.
The environmental movement is using climate change to achieve its primary goals: undo the economic foundations of the West, reshape the Western way of life, dismantle capitalism and transfer wealth to the Third World. They will pursue these goals at all costs – be it crippling inflation, blackouts, even the strengthening of Russia and China.
If you truly believe that climate change poses an “existential threat” to human life, there is no price too high to pay to phase out fossil fuel-based energy. This includes empowering and enriching evil men.
Prager is a nationally broadcast radio talk show host whose column is distributed by Creators Syndicate.