As Russia makes another move on its helpless neighbor Ukraine, I can't help but wonder what all the fuss is about.
“In a scenario strikingly similar to the fast-paced developments in Crimea in February and March,” reports FoxNews, “western nations are accusing Russia of fomenting protests in Ukraine while Russia claims the protests are an organic response to Ukraine's failure to consider ‘the legitimate needs and interests’ of the Russian-speaking population.”
Wasn't it for this very contingency that president Obama was being so flexible with Vladimir Putin? They’re pals aren't they?
Or am I thinking Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler?
Weeks ago we could hear nothing but that the Munich comparisons—“Munich” refers to when Neville Chamberlain gave away Czechoslovakian territory Britain didn't control in order to gain “peace for our time” for England -- were way overdone, and in no wise could apply to the situation in Ukraine.
We were assured last month that the annexation of the Crimea was the last territorial demand Russia had in the East, Europe or near east.
“Don’t believe those who scare you with Russia, who yell that Crimea will be followed by other regions,” Putin said when he annexed Crimea. “Crimea is our historic legacy. It should be part of a strong and stable sovereignty, which today can only be Russian.”
We were told then that Barack Obama was no Neville Chamberlain: He had this one.
Vlad and O were friends after all.
They had an understanding.
Wasn’t it Obama who made possible the scuttling of the defense shield for Ukraine? Wasn’t it Obama who made possible the obstacles to Ukraine enjoying the full protection of NATO forces?
Didn’t they have an understanding?
Well, apparently not.
While Obama continues to take his weekends in the country, in a paraphrase of Winston Churchill, Putin takes his countries on the weekends.
The parallels to Munich aren’t just apt, they’re chilling.
And here's why:
It's impossible to understate to people who did not live through "Munich" how opposed the general population of the world-- outside of Italy and Germany-- was to war.
A generation previously, fathers and grandfathers had slugged it out during World War I in the mud of France and the vast steppe of Eastern Europe, with a mind-numbing 18 million dead, wounded or crippled, left as a permanent reminder of man’s humanity run amok.
Casualty rates for British troops were over 35%, and casualty rates for French troops-- who mutinied over it-- were 73%.
And there was no reason for fathers and grandfathers to believe that the next war wouldn’t be more brutal, more wasting, more incompetent.
So of course they cheered the man who promised peace, the man who delivered peace, even as his country grew closer and closer to war; a war ironically made inevitable by efforts to find a peaceful solution to Adolf Hitler's—and Japan’s-- psychopathy.
And in the end, they fought World War II because in not wanting to fight it, they eventually were left with few options.
Even Hitler remarked disconsolately that Germans did not have the morale for war.
Today, Americans are sick of war, its talk, its practice, and its humbugs.
"I am sick and tired of war," said William Tecumseh Sherman, one of war's most cruel American practitioners. "Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell."
Churchill himself admitted as much after watching one of the Empire's last great cavalry charges, with himself amongst the combatants: "War, which used to be cruel and magnificent," he said "has now become cruel and squalid."
But this much I know from a reading of both Sherman's and Churchill's life: A country intent upon peace at any cost will likely get either war or slavery. Isolationists in this country, and appeasers in Europe, found this out to their dismay as they flirted with World War II.
“The only thing now is to do our best to lick the hell out of them,” said leading American isolationist Burton K. Wheeler, upon America’s final entry into the war.
It would be a pity to find ourselves in a situation of having to fight a war for the survival of Europe, when today, there are many options to out maneuver Russia to prevent such a catastrophe-- laugh as liberals might about the possibility.
Russia, after all, is a country that couldn’t conquer Afghanistan at their most powerful.
Some would say: “Nor could we.”
But here’s the difference: We never tried to conquer Afghanistan. Nor would we...ever.
And it’s likely that distinction is lost on both Comrade Obama and his friend Comrade Putin too.