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Shuffling, Stumbling, Mumbling Into War

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Dmitry Astakhov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

The long, sad history of war is replete with multiple mistakes, misjudgments, erroneous information and twisted thinking by leaders before and during conflicts. Beginning in the 1930s during a worldwide depression, poor decisions by the most powerful nations on Earth resulted in the most sanguinary armed contest in history -- World War II.


After World War I, the victors drafted more than a dozen "International Agreements" on new countries. borders, rules for warfare, the size and capabilities of armies, navies and air forces. Most of them were rigorously adhered to by "democracies" and ignored by dictatorial regimes intent on expanding their power.

World War II began on Sept. 18, 1931, when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Manchuria in the first major step by Tokyo's increasingly fascist government to gain control over essential raw materials. They also installed a military government in Korea to enslave its people. While U.S. and European leaders in Britain, France and the Netherlands dithered and debated over "sanctions" on Japanese imports of steel, coal, oil and rubber, the emperor's army seized what they needed. By 1940, when they invaded French Indochina, Japanese troops had seized most of China's productive territory and population.

In Europe, aging leaders relying on worthless agreements ignored atrocities perpetrated in Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union, and "secret" pacts between Adolf Hitler other dictators led to a series of appeasements favoring Berlin. In 1936, the German dictator seized the Rhineland. In March 1938, he annexed Austria. Finally alarmed, Europe's leaders met in September 1938 at the infamous "Munich Conference" where all agreed with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's proposal that Hitler could occupy the Sudetenland -- the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia. In March 1939, German troops seized the entire country, and on Sept. 1 Hitler and Stalin invaded Poland.


On Sept. 3, 1939, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany -- but not the Soviet Union. That evening, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced in a radio broadcast, "... let no man or woman thoughtlessly or falsely talk of sending [our] armies to European fields. At this moment there is being prepared a proclamation of American neutrality." On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Today, in an increasingly dangerous world, we should pray for leaders with accurate information -- intelligence -- sound judgment and the ability to take decisive action. Despite Biden's bold "into harm's way" trip to Kyiv on Feb. 20 for meetings with that beleaguered nation's heroic president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the rest of the Biden administration appears to have failed to learn from history or events since.

The day after his trip to Kyiv, Biden made a speech in Warsaw, Poland, which some have likened to President Ronald Reagan's June 12, 1987, address before the barrier dividing Germany into communist and free sectors. In it, the president I was blessed to serve demanded, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

On Nov. 9, 1989, the wall came down. On Christmas Day 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved and eventually all 15 former soviet republics -- Ukraine among them -- became sovereign independent states.

Biden promised in Warsaw: "Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never!" If those are more than words, he must act now as Vladimir Putin plots a spring offensive to seize Odessa, Ukraine's most crucial city.


Last Friday, Xi Jinping, head of the People's Republic of China, America's No. 1 adversary, publicly "considered" overt support for Putin's desperate search for war materiel. He also advocated a "Ukrainian Peace Plan" requiring a "cease-fire" and a cessation of all arms deliveries. Both ideas should be totally rejected by all 50 nations now supporting Ukraine.

Biden must immediately replenish our depleted Strategic Petroleum Reserves, muzzle the Pentagon's "woke" leadership, accelerate delivery of armor, long-range artillery, air-defense weaponry and authorize NATO delivery of F-16s.

Doing less invites a longer, wider war.

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