Person of the Year, Bozos of the Year
I’m fine with Volodymyr Zelensky being TIME magazine’s Person of the Year. It’s well-earned. He’s changed the world in the past year more than anyone — except maybe Vladimir Putin. What I’m not fine with are the lunatics in our own chattering class that want to help Zelensky push us into World War III. Indeed, they seem to want to push Zelensky to push us into World War III.
Escalating the War
I’ve seen it three times now this week. A retired general on World magazine’s “The World and Everything in It” podcast saying essentially caution be damned, let’s give Ukraine the ability to escalate the war by striking inside Russia, and let the chips fall where they may.
Army Lt. General Thomas Spoehr is now the director of the Center for National Defense at the Heritage Foundation, an influential position on the American right. “Now, I know, the United States, the President and others are worried about escalating this conflict,” he said. “But, you know, Russia, they’re the instigators of this. If they’re going to strike Ukrainian power grids, I don’t understand why we wouldn’t allow the Ukrainians to strike the Russian power grid in response. That’s how you deter people from doing things.” He also wants to heavily arm Taiwan.
Then the next day or so, a letter appeared in the Wall Street Journal from another expert saying the same thing. And now an op-ed in the Journal from Boris Johnson, the UK’s former PM, saying it again.
Russia and the West
When it comes to, say, the Left’s attack on journalist Matt Taibbi for his role in the Twitter Files, the right will correctly note that a memo seems to have gone out because every leftist critic is saying the exact same thing (“Taibbi is doing PR for the world’s richest man,” “nothing to see here,” “What about Trump?” etc.).
But that goes both ways. That numerous voices on the right have just suddenly, this week, ratcheted up calls to give Ukraine the power to strike inside Russia, is not an accident. A memo seems to have gone out. Why? How is this good for America? How is it prudent or wise?
It’s not a matter of helping the good guys and hurting the bad guys. It’s a matter of caring for our own nation, the people our government is primarily responsible for, in part so that America can care for the rest of the world, in the ways we can. Starting World War III is not going to cure world hunger or poverty in the developing world.
As between Ukraine and Russia, I have no doubt as to who is the good guy. (As I wrote here in the spring.) Say what you will about Ukraine or Zelensky, about America and Europe provoking Putin, but at the end of the day it was not Ukraine that invaded Russia. It isn’t Ukraine that targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure.
As between the West and Russia, though, that is one heck of a more complicated story. See Christopher Caldwell’s talk at Hillsdale College for the background the press, including most of the conservative press, won’t tell you. This includes how much of the American foreign policy establishment opposed Ukraine’s entry into NATO and how intricately tied up with Russia — culturally, economically, politically — Ukraine was and is.
What Are They Thinking?
I get the immediate military logic of wanting to take out the place from which your guys are being attacked. This is what upset people about the Vietnam War, the whole “We fought with one hand tied behind our back, the politicians should have let the generals do their job” thing. If a nation is going to war, it must try to win. Or you get the disaster of Vietnam.
But generals, experts, and disgraced prime ministers, and politicians right and left: Russia is not North Vietnam. What are you all thinking?
We have been here before, in the early days of the Ukraine War. Zelensky wanted us to declare a no fly zone over Ukraine, as we had over Iraq. It would have required U.S. pilots to shoot down Russian jets.
But generals, experts, and disgraced prime ministers, and politicians right and left: Vladimir Putin is not Saddam Hussein. What are you all thinking?
I know what Zelensky is thinking. I don’t fault him for it. He’s got a country to save. Again, the “Person of the Year” award was well-deserved.
But we have our own countries to think about. And if we care about them, we should have nothing to do with bringing NATO into direct military conflict with Russia. Or with giving Ukraine the power to hit Russia in Russia, which is essentially the same thing.
I’m amazed that there are people who want to do this. That, 30 years after the miracle of a peaceful end to the Cold War, when two nuclear superpowers never engaged each other in direct military conflict, there are people who now want to bring it about. It will not end well for anyone. God give them the wit to see this.
Peter Wolfgang is president of Family Institute of Connecticut Action. He lives in Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife and their seven children. The views expressed on The Stream are solely his own.