I’ve refrained until now from commenting on the situation in Ukraine. I know this is a tough situation with few easy answers. The history of tension between Ukraine and Russia goes back a long ways. One of the worst episodes in twentieth-century history occurred in Ukraine in the winter of 1932-1933 when Josef Stalin was the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union. During that winter, Stalin, in an attempt to strangle Ukrainian resistance to his destruction of independent farmers, removed the region’s food supply, thereby starving approximately seven million Ukrainians to death.
This horror was largely unknown to the West, primarily because journalists like the New York Times’s Walter Duranty, who was given lavish gifts by Stalin, refused to tell the truth about the government-enforced famine. Back in 1983, I was hired by a Ukrainian organization to contact media people to get them to publicize the fiftieth anniversary of this atrocity. I discovered, much to my chagrin, that most of the media didn’t really care to bring it up. It was like the 1930s repeated.
This foolish infatuation with the communist vision was encouraged throughout the decades by people who were referred to as “fellow travelers.” Although not members of the communist party, they trod the same path, giving aid and comfort to the cause of the enemies of Western civilization. That same spirit remains today in the form of liberals/progressives who continue to see the United States as the main obstacle to peace in the world. Remember when Barack Obama took office? There was this famous [infamous?] “reset” button that Hillary Clinton took to Russia to show that a new era had dawned in U.S-Russian relations. Well, how has that worked out?
It was based on a faulty worldview. In the current Ukraine crisis, the perception of the world, it seems, is that the American government is all talk and no action. Our leaders, both Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, are seen as weak and impotent. Who is really afraid of any threat offered by this administration? Besides, the approach is anything but threatening:
Vladimir Putin is seen, in the world’s eyes, as the strong man here. Obama, not so much.
One gets the impression our president really doesn’t know what to do when faced with Russian intransigence:
We continue to rely on good intentions, long after it’s obvious that Russian intentions are not good. Maybe there’s one action the president can take that will cause great consternation within the Russian government: