A state surrounded by hostile powers

Russia is a state surrounded by hostile Communist Powers said my preceptor Cyril Black in a Russian history course I took in the late 50’s (https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/november-1989/in-memoriam-cyril-e-black). I was fortunate enough to get Professor Black as my Preceptor (https://admission.princeton.edu/academics/precept-system).

Black also said the main problem for European security was the security of Russia.  It certainly didn’t seem that way at the time.  Russia crushed the Hungarian revolution just before I arrived as a freshman in 1956.  Totally awed by the brainpower of my classmates, I was particularly impressed by a guy who knew 16 or so languages and who learned Hungarian in a few weeks and went up to Camp Kilmer (where Hungarian refugees were being housed) to act as a translator.

Which brings me to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.  Some glibly say that the US should send troops there.  Now that there isn’t a draft, few have any idea what war is like.  Not so when I was taking care of horribly maimed soldiers as an Air Force doctor from ’68 – ’70 during the Vietnam war.   While the Ukraine is undergoing terrible suffering, this is a European problem not ours.  They have everything they need to solve it.

Consider the following:

Population of Russia — 144 Million  Population of the European Union 447 Million

GDP of Russia 1.4 Trillion   GDP of the European Union 17.1 Trillion

Only 8/28 members of NATO had met their defense commitments before Trump told them that we would only defend those who had done so.  Things then improved.

Granted that many of the EU countries are small and Russia has the border states terrified (with good reason).   The invasion is a wakeup call for them, and it’s time for them to listen to one of geniuses present at the founding of the USA —

Benjamin Franklin’s comment at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

The worst thing we could do is sent our soldiers over there to win the fight for them.  Just look at the population and GDP numbers.

If you feel strongly about using US troops for this, ask yourself — would you send your son (or daughter) over there to fight and die for the Ukraine?

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Comments

  • Peter Shenkin  On March 1, 2022 at 12:24 am

    I certainly agree with this, as well as with the view of Putin that you expressed in your preceding blog entry. The current entry adds a “however” to that one.

    I’d like to add another “however”. Russia has legitimate security concerns, and cannot tolerate a nation in a military alliance with their main enemy (us!) right on their border.

    This strikes me as no different from the U. S. concern with Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962. And if you think that’s a bad analogy, please think about the Monroe Doctrine, which sets forth our opposition to any European nation dominating any part of the Western hemisphere — the “new world”, which is looking more and more like the old one every day.

    Recall the denouement of the Cuban missile crisis. It was later revealed that in return for the withdrawal of Russian missiles from Cuba, Kennedy had secretly agreed to withdraw Jupiter missiles from Turkey, where they had already been placed and aimed at Russia.

    I don’t see the current situation as any different.

    In the current crisis, it seems that a similar arrangement could prevail. It seems to me that an agreement by the Russians to recognize Ukrainian sovereignty in return for a Ukrainian pledge not to join NATO would be a completely reasonable approach to both parties, and to third parties, such as the U. S.

  • luysii  On March 1, 2022 at 10:46 pm

    Peter: You are right about everything, but unfortunately, I think we are past your solution.

    The previous post contained the following

    “Russia is a state surrounded by hostile Communist Powers said my preceptor Cyril Black in a Russian history course I took in the late 50’s (https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/november-1989/in-memoriam-cyril-e-black). I was fortunate enough to get Professor Black as my Preceptor (https://admission.princeton.edu/academics/precept-system).

    Black also said the main problem for European security was the security of Russia. ”

    How prescient professor Black was.

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