In March I did an interview where I talked briefly about Russia and the Ukraine. I suggested two things. The first was that we should begin to strengthen the Polish military and the second was that I was opposed to the IMF loan to Ukraine. I was wrong on the IMF loan to Ukraine. One of the toughest things for a politician to do is to admit he was wrong. As a candidate for congress I can tell you it is just as difficult if you are in the middle of the race.
I was pleased to see President Obama at least take a few baby steps by putting U.S. military advisers in Poland. The way to stop war is to raise the cost of aggression. Increasing Poland’s defenses helps to raise the cost of Russian expansion. Poland has always been significant in Russian history. In 1654 the war between Poland and Russia forever changed the political nature of Europe. From that point Russia had a standing army and was to have a voice in the region. Thus the very beginnings of Russian world influence lie largely within Poland. In subsequent wars (including WWII) the path in and out of Russia usually includes marching troops through Poland.
At the time I did that interview I was convinced that Russia would be hard to stop in Ukraine without American or NATO boots on the ground. I don’t see this as a practical solution. Because of this I believed that an IMF loan to bolster Ukraine’s economy would simply put our money in Putin’s hands. George Kennan is often credited (or blamed) with the containment strategy and thus wars in Korea and Vietnam. But Kennan has said himself that this should have been done with economic strategy. For this to be affective we must act now or we greatly raise the risk of war.
This morning I received a link to an article on NPR.
This article reminded me of an old saying about Russia. She is never as strong as she appears and never as weak as she appears.
I don’t believe that President Obama possesses the historical knowledge to craft a policy that will work to avert Putin’s eyes from the West. I still believe Poland or further expansion of influence towards Europe to be his real goal. I do believe however that Congress could put strings on any loan or financial assistance that would significantly raise the economic cost of this aggression.
If we were to give Ukraine money with the caveat that it must be used to strengthen their defenses we would significantly raise the cost of Putin’s folly. This could save thousands of lives and cause Russia to rethink their entire European strategy.
I have run my campaign largely on the premise that we are spending too much money and piling too much debt on our children and grandchildren. This makes this even more difficult for me. But as new information comes to light it becomes clear that spending a few billion now could save hundreds of billions tomorrow I think the solution is obvious. We will spend well over three and a half trillion dollars this year. There are things that could be cut to pay for this.
Only the dead have seen the end of war. Acknowledging this historical truth may be the impetus we need to make tough decisions today that at least will raise the cost and lower the chances of a quickly escalating war in Eastern Europe.
These events and the soft winds of war that are blowing across the region may take years to fully play out. In our modern short-attention span society our politicians often wait until the last minute to react. This is one of those situations where hard decisions must be made today.
Many of the congressional primary races have been turned into sideshow circuses. I believe my primary race against Speaker Boehner is no exception. The issues have fallen and the politics of personal destruction and silliness have risen. Mine is not the only race like this. In Kentucky McConnell bashes his challenger on everything but the issues.
The media loves to see Republicans tear each other apart in a primary. Candidates know well that this coverage helps them to raise money. But sometimes the issues are just too important to fall for the circus. This is one of those periods in history where the dark clouds on the horizon aren’t going to go away. We the people keep demanding changes in Washington. The truth is that it is we the people who must make the changes. Your vote is your voice. Your vote is your most valuable political asset. If we force the narrative towards the serious discussion of the issues the politicians must oblige, the media must oblige and we will make the changes necessary to put this nation back on the path to prosperity and security.