We here in the U.S. may want to take a few notes, while we can.
What the Russian government is allowing their citizens to see (via TASS for example), should end any debate about government “control” of “misinformation.” When the government decides what is acceptable, only government propaganda will be allowed. There is a reason for our First Amendment – and this is it. Nothing good comes from government suppressing free speech.
What the people of Ukraine have endured should end any debate over whether citizens should be allowed to arm and defend themselves, their families, their communities, and their country. Ukraine today is the best argument in favor of the Second Amendment since the American Revolution. To those that would say “what is going on in Ukraine would never happen here” I will say that the people of Ukraine probably thought the same a few months ago. And while we’re at it, ask the residents of Seattle and Portland what they think of criminals running wild in their streets unchecked by the police.
I’ve written before about the “Imperial Presidency.” The power wielded by Putin within Russia makes a perfect argument against the imperial presidency. One man (in the case of Russia, one unstable man) should not have such power. The Constitution explicitly states that only congress has the power to declare war. Russia’s dysfunctional government allowed Putin to start what may turn out to be a major war all by himself. Our congress must take back the powers assigned to it under the Constitution and must never delegate them to any other branch or agency. If the actions of Putin don’t make this point – given the potential stakes – I don’t know what will.
What we are seeing in Ukraine is an outstanding example of “nationalism’s finest hour”. I would argue that nationalism (properly understood) is a source of strength for any nation. I rather doubt that Ukraine would have made it this far if not for a strong sense of nationalism. Love of country, cohesion, unity, these are vital to the survival of any nation.
Borders matter. Borders are the physical definition of national sovereignty. My neighbor is a free U.S. citizen. He’s free to do as he pleases when and where he wants so long as he obeys the law. That freedom to move and do as he pleases ends at my property line. He respects my property line as I do his, and this allows us to be friends and go about our daily lives in peace. It takes little imagination to predict what would happen if we had no mutual respect for property lines. Without respect for borders, the rule of law, and national sovereignty, you have chaos and war. The situation in Ukraine cannot make this any clearer.
Globalism is not a good idea. The supply line issues and the supply of things like masks and semiconductors in the wake of the pandemic have shown that nations can be quite vulnerable to offshore disruptions. This is not to say global trade is bad in and of itself. It is to say that global trade and national security are linked. We should not place ourselves at the mercy of a foreign nation if we can avoid it. We need a domestic supply of those commodities that are vital to our security – whether they are medical supplies, fuel, or computer chips. European dependence on Russian fuel is a disaster right now – we should all take a lesson from this.
Climate change is not more important than national security. Ask the Ukrainians right now whether they view climate change or the Russian army as an existential threat. I’ll just take a wild guess and say they probably view the Russian army as an existential threat right now. Even conventional wars are not particularly good for the environment – to say nothing of chemical, biological, or nuclear wars. Strong national security deters war. If you are concerned about the environment, be concerned about preventing war.
Imperialist multinational institutions are not the answer. What good is the UN? Why was the UN unable to prevent what is going on in Ukraine? What is the UN Security Council doing to stop this? Oh – that’s right – sorry – Russia has veto power. So much for that. If the UN wants any credibility at all, they should expel Russia and remove Russian veto power from the Security Council. Extreme I know – and frankly I rather doubt it would have much material impact – but it would be a step in the right direction.
The simple fact is, Russia had no justification to invade Ukraine. Ukraine is not and was not a threat to Russia even if Ukraine had become a member of NATO (Ukraine is not a member of NATO – sorry to have to state that but it appears there are several prominent U.S. politicians that don’t know that). The world is in this current situation because of an unhinged dictator in charge of a failed state – it’s really that simple. And if the notion of an unhinged dictator in charge of a failed state rings some bell in your historical memory, it should. This has happened before, and there are even a few (very few) folks left alive today that remember it.
Wars are almost always the result of miscalculation and failure to see reality. Read your history. This has happened before and it will happen again and it will keep happening until no human is left on this planet – OR – until we learn the lessons of that history. In the meantime it seems not unreasonable to me that we learn from this failed state we call Russia and at the very least not allow this to happen to the United States. Insist the Constitution be enforced as written.