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Who’s Responsible For Russia’s Invasion?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

In preaching peace with Russia in 2016, Donald Trump puzzled many pundits.  Do bellicose hawks champion peace? 

In fact, they do – if they’re smart.  In his prime, Arnold Schwarzenegger could bench press 500 pounds, yet he didn’t saunter down streets socking people in the face.  Strong people generally feel no need to exercise their strength against others.  It’s sufficient that everyone knows they have it.


Unfortunately, American politicians are an exception to this rule.  For over a century now, they have made a habit of flexing this country’s muscles abroad and have consistently made matters worse rather than better.  Our entry into World War I, for example, led to Germany’s humiliation at Versailles, which paved the way for the rise of Hitler and the deaths of 70 million people in World War II.

In the 1950s, we backed Gamal Abder Nasar in Egypt, who thanked us by radicalizing the Arab street, which led to the overthrow of the British-backed Iraqi government in 1958 and the near extinction of Israel in 1967.

Also in the 1950s, we helped stage a coup d’état in behalf of the Shah of Iran, which helped spark the Iranian revolution in 1979.  In other words, we have the CIA to thank for the radical mullahs running Iran today. 

In the 1960s, we intervened in Vietnam and found ourselves in a quagmire that ended with 58,000 American soldiers dead and a North Vietnamese victory. 

In 2003, we invaded Iraq and returned home a decade later with that country in worse shape than when we arrived.  We lost 4,400 U.S. soldiers in the process and left behind 100,000 dead Iraqis and a political vacuum that was soon filled by ISIS and other radical elements.

In 2011, we decided to play the part of moral crusader in Libya and drove Qhadafi from power. Thanks to that move, the country fell apart, 25,000 people died in a civil war, and slave markets were reintroduced to the region.


And today, Russian missiles are raining down on Kiev thanks in great measure to our support – perhaps even facilitation – of a coup d’état against Ukraine’s democratically-elected government in 2014.  That revolt brought anti-Russian nationalists to power, sparked a civil war in Ukraine’s eastern regions with 13,000 casualties over the last eight years, and played into Putin’s worst fears of U.S. aggression toward Russia.

And this, after 25 years of eastward expansion of NATO toward Russia’s border.  NATO, headed by the U.S., was of course founded to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union, which – as a Marxist country – was ideologically committed to the destruction of capitalism around the globe.  But Russia is not the Soviet Union.  It has no desire to conquer Germany or France – let alone the United States – and nothing in its 1,000-year history suggests that it would develop such a desire.  So why does NATO exist?  Why didn’t it disband with the fall of the Soviet Union?  Why does it keep moving east? 

We can call Putin mad, but what is he to think when NATO expands to Bulgaria?  To Latvia?  To Albania?  To Slovenia?  As Russia expert Stephen Cohen told me years ago, “NATO is the world’s most powerful military alliance.  We can claim it isn’t that – that it’s just a force for democracy – but Russians don’t live in a world of fairy tales.”

Indeed, they don’t.  But we arrogantly ignore Russia’s concerns and blithely advance NATO weapon systems eastward.  How does that serve our interests?  Why are we trying to increase the chance of world conflict rather than decrease it?  And what’s the logic of driving Russia into an alliance with China, our chief enemy?


In 2016, Trump used to regularly preface his calls for peaceful relations with Russia by saying, “No one is more militaristic than me.”  I knew exactly what he meant.  I am a hawk.  When a country goes to war, I believe it should fight ferociously.  But that doesn’t mean going to war is always wise or moral.  And a superpower shouldn’t always impose its will just because it can.

In his famous farewell address, George Washington advised us to have “as little political connection as possible” with foreign nations.  We would do well to heed his words.  U.S. interference abroad has yielded numerous disasters in the past, and we are living through one right now.  It’s time to for us to practice some humility.

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