“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
I don’t know if John F. Kennedy really meant those words or thought through the consequences, but today, they are clearly obsolete.
Vietnam changed everything. Americans decided that they did not want any more drawn out wars without specific goals. The rest of the world learned that they could defy the United States, and if they could endure long enough, the U.S. would tire and go home. Today, after Iraq and Afghanistan, the world sees that we no longer have the stomach for war, so villains can run amok without fear of consequences.
President Obama has decided we will not commit troops over Ukraine, and this is a European matter. Russia, however, supplies 30% of Europe’s gas—up from 25% in 2012. Europe will not move against Russia without U.S. in the lead. Therefore, Putin can invade with impunity.
If he succeeds in Crimea, he can take the rest of Ukraine under the same pretext, and then the rest of the former Soviet Union—piece-by-piece. What about those states who have joined NATO: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania?
The United States signed a treaty with Ukraine promising protection if they surrendered their nuclear weapons. Now, they need our protection and we’re saying it’s a European problem. Nobody is prepared to stand up to Russia the way Kennedy did. And what does a promise from the United States mean anymore?
So what? They all talk funny anyway. Let Russia have them.
Except, that China is paying attention. China has already expanded its navy and claimed a wider territory in the ocean surrounding its Asian neighbors. Chinese ships have fired water cannon at Philippine fishing boats. It’s just an opening shot.
And, Taiwan is still on China’s to-do list. We are dependent on Chinese manufacturing and rare earth metals. Are we willing to give up our smart phones, computers and electric vehicles for the sake of Taiwan?
Every president since George H.W. Bush has cut military spending. Still, our military budget far exceeds that of any other nation, but if we’re not prepared to exercise our clout, then it really is a waste.
It’s worth remembering that four days after the Soviets cut off Allied access to Berlin in June, 1948, the U.S. launched an airlift to supply the city. U.K. and Australia were already airlifting supplies to the British sector. FOUR DAYS—at a time when U.S. resources were sparse—four days is all it took to launch a response. And, we weren’t even sure it would work. [see “Berlin Blockade” on Wikipedia]
The bullies of the world love it that we want international consensus before we act. That’s why Russian troops still occupy a chunk of Georgia.
Nobody—including Vladimir Putin—wants war, but as Henry Kissinger said, “In crises, the most daring course is often the safest.” We need a little daring.