A haberdasher’s lesson for the Ukraine

March 13, 2014

Russian troops entered the Ukraine and the new Russian masters are orchestrating public “demonstrations” in support of the occupation. The Russian bear always had an appetite for weak neighbors; ask Finland, ask Poland, ask Romania.

Until recently, the Ukraine was more than capable to secure its borders and protect the life of its nation. Then the Ukrainians held 5,000 nuclear weapons for use when and as needed for its defense.

At the urging of the West - the United States, France and Great Britain - the Ukraine surrendered its nuclear arsenal. This was a stellar moment for a peaceful and stable world. In return for relinquishing the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world the United States committed to ensure the security of the Ukraine.

Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is the surest way to ensure peace in the world. Weapons that don’t exist can’t be used.

Many nations possess the ability to build their own arsenals. Every one of those nuclear capable nations has the right to protect itself. These include Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Korea, Japan, Brazil, South Africa and any number of European countries.

That they have not sought nuclear weapons is evidence of their past faith in a world secured by honorable peace and security commitments.

As Russian troops march through the Ukrainian Crimea today the world watches President Obama. Will he honor America’s guarantee to the now disarmed non-nuclear Ukraine? If he fails to rise above his past weakness and indecision, then the world will certainly ramp up in a nuclear weapons building frenzy. Every nation is obligated to defend itself by whatever means necessary.

It’s time for American leadership consisting of more than an empty chair and a teleprompter.

What path can we follow? How do we honor our commitment to the Ukraine and from strength work for peace? For we seek no war with the Russians as they seek no war with us and the West.

America faced a similar and equally dangerous situation before. It was under a different Democrat President; one who was not a Harvard graduate or community organizer. He found a way through his crisis by initiative and firm resolution. He was President Harry Truman, a one time haberdasher from Missouri, and his crisis was the Russian blockade of Berlin.

Truman didn’t send armored columns against Russian forces. Truman was not only tough. He was smart. He responded with the right tools for a difficult problem at the decisive moment.

President Truman began the Berlin Airlift. Supplies needed to sustain the people of Berlin and the armed forces in Berlin were flown in by an unending convoy of transport planes.

It had real dangers. Many pilots and crews died in accidents rescuing Berlin. Yet, the Russians did not escalate the situation by attacking those American and British transports. Ultimately, Russia backed away and Berlin was saved. Today Berlin is the capitol of a free and independent Germany.

The embattled Ukraine now needs a similar airlift to sustain its security.

The U.S. and other guarantors need to begin an airlift to Ukrainians and their forces now surrounded by Russian troops. That airlift to supply food and fuel and blankets and bullets so that Ukrainians can remain, endure and defend their own lands. Planes are to fly there not to fight, but to keep an honorable commitment to peace.

Put away the empty chair leadership and take initiative; thoughtful and resolute initiative. The Russians will not attack unarmed American cargo planes. They won’t escalate their mistake. They will find their only face saving exit is to, in fact, exit the Ukraine.

Not only will the Ukraine be redeemed but so will our word as a people willing to take risks for long-term peace. That same commitment has kept most of the world free from a nuclear arms race and its nuclear terrors.

Don’t allow Vladimir Putin to make yet another unchallenged move. If he does the life of a free and independent Ukraine will soon be over.

It’s time for American initiative. The next move is yours President Obama.

Kevin Wade
New Castle

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