In President Biden’s historic speech in Poland yesterday, he said Putin cannot remain in power!
The State Department rushed to assure we are not calling for regime change, Russia being a democracy, albeit one overseen by an autocrat who jails dissidents, and clearly far short of fair elections during the Putin regime.
That statement wasn’t a “gaffe.” This is what everyone in the free world is thinking. Putin must go. It would be easy to “walk back” more effectively than our State Department did, by the President himself stating today, “What I am saying is this: I am urging the Russian people to exercise their democratic rights and select a better President for their great country.” Then let the Russian people decide how to do that—by protesting, by leaving Russia, or whatever means they find the courage to take.
The world has listened to diplomats, politicians, newscasters on the ground, and Western military experts. We have gone via media into the front lines with Ukrainian military. We have met displaced families, often separated from husbands and brothers who remain, and we have toured field hospitals filled with wounded children. And with all this, for the first major war the world has been able to watch on TV 24/7, we all have opinions as to the best strategy.
I have opinions:
The larger question at this time is this: Should the Ukraine compromise to save thousands of lives not yet lost; or should they hold out at all costs, to prevent the risk of a crazed dictator moving on to endanger Europe and the world? That would be an enormous sacrifice on behalf of all the people of Eastern Europe.
This decision is for Volodymyr Zelensky and his Ukrainian leadership, but my own leanings are in hopes that Ukraine hold out to the end, no concessions, not even one square mile of Donbas to be surrendered to Putin. They will certainly retain their territory and their sovereignty. They are winning this war with their sheer determination. They will survive to live again as the independent Ukraine.
Perhaps even more important for Russia and the world, the victory of Ukraine over Russia will yield the end of a tyrant who would otherwise claim victory and possibly survive politically in Russia, using a series of repressive measures against any activists who might criticize the Ukrainian offensive and with his autocratic and corrupt control. In his misguided intent to re-establish the Soviet Union of pre-1989, he is in fact destroying the country he leads. In his action to take advantage of a weakened NATO, he has experienced unintended consequences: He has emboldened and strengthened NATO.
As President Biden said in Poland yesterday, the Russians are a great people and they are not a people who want to invade and force the subjugation of a sovereign state which clearly does not welcome such.
What should the West do next, what should NATO do, and what should the US do?
I argued for a no-fly zone in the previous post. I still hold that we should have a no-fly zone, either operated by NATO, or under the aegis of the United Nations, which has provisions for such. What about the risk of triggering World War III or a nuclear war? Given the behavior of Putin, nothing we can withhold prevents that occurring, as it increasingly seems clear Putin is cornered and will go to any extreme to prevent a loss in his “special military operation.”
What else? We must continue and increase humanitarian aid and military aid. We need to assure the immediate transport of MIGs to Ukraine, where Ukrainian pilots are showing great aerial skill. We should also provide advice to Ukrainian military, as well as intelligence. Neither requires us to have Americans on the ground in Ukraine. And, we need to urge/insist that all global democracies join us in such assistance–not limited to NATO members.
The President has announced willingness to accept 100,000 from Ukraine for temporary asylum. That is totally inadequate and globally embarrassing, considering almost 4 million are seeking asylum, with millions of those already in Poland, a country much smaller than the US, struggling valiantly to welcome, shelter, and feed them. We should take at least 1 million. At least 1 million. We have the capacity. Work it out! Let’s save the debate of why refugees from Ukraine vs those from S America, etc. That’s a longer discussion. This tragedy overrides such delaying debates.
We need to continue tightening sanctions and working to assure they are enforced throughout NATO. We need to sanction every member of the Russian State Duma and Federation Council—a total of 628 members, who vote unanimously in favor or whatever actions Putin proposes—or else.
There is always more we can find to do. Let’s do it!
Are we seeking regime change? Yes, of course we are! We are urging Russians to seek regime change!