Thursday, April 12, 2018
‘If only We had Listened’
Humanity’s most unfortunate and pathetic expression of frustration can be summed up in phrase “If only we had listened.”
Those words imply, at least, that the information was readily available but overlooked or rejected.
The latest manifestation of this lament came from Max Boot, a columnist for The Washington Post.
“Russia has been waging war on the West for at least 10 years, and the West hasn’t bothered to notice,” Boot wrote in his March 15 column.
The newspaper’s headline for his commentary screamed a similar admission: “Russia has been waging war on the West for years. We just haven’t noticed.”
Why did the West, otherwise known as the free world, the fraternity of non-Soviet, non-communist decent countries, turn a deaf ear and blind eye to Russian aggression?
Citing a laundry list of the Kremlin’s crimes, Boot pointed out that Russia’s war didn’t directly target American, Canadian or British cities with bombs, soldiers and tanks.
“Moscow’s kind of war is more subtle and yet all the more effective — precisely because it does not compel an overwhelming response. The war arguably began in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia, a pro-Western country that sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan and was anxious to join NATO. Rather than punishing Vladimir Putin for his aggression, the Obama administration later responded with a ‘reset’ of relations. Putin was emboldened to aggress again: In 2014, his ‘little green men’ — uniformed Russian soldiers with their insignia removed — invaded Ukraine. He annexed Crimea and turned eastern Ukraine into a Russian proxy state. This time the United States and Europe did respond with sanctions — but not strongly enough to dissuade him,” he wrote.
Is it too late to deter Putin from escalating his war against Ukraine and the West? Normal avenues such as pleas, summits, negotiations, ceasefires, threats and probably sanctions have run their course. Russian armies and their mercenary terrorists have not retreated from Ukraine to Russia. Putin and the Kremlin regime – the official portion as well as the oligarchic unofficial one – haven’t yet felt enough pain to submit to Western demands. On the contrary, Russia has escalated its worldwide aggression by killing innocent men, women and children in Syria. But is the West noticing?
The free world’s primary failing in dealing with Russia is not acknowledging or comprehending the perpetuation of global belligerence, violence and death that stretches from one Russian regime to the next. Realistically, there is no difference among tsarist, soviet-communist and today’s federal varieties of Russian leaderships. Each Russian era’s leader eagerly adopted the mission of expanding or restoring the so-called “glory of holy mother Russia” by way of global aggression, subversion and domination. To be sure, the Kremlin’s cyber invasion of the United States is part of that plan.
Consequently, since policies do not change from one Russian leader to the next and from one Russian regime to the next, the Russian national mindset has taken for granted that global domination, world belligerence and violence will rebuild its righteous empire. Furthermore, since the Russian people do not oppose these policies, they have also bought into their leaders’ vision.
At the end of World War Two, when Russia seized significant portions of Europe as its spoils of war, liberation leaders of the captive nations warned the free world that Russia will not be satisfied with its conquests by default and will spread its tentacles around the world. They also said the captive nations would continue to fight Russian imperialism – as they did with uprisings in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czecho-Slovakia – until Moscow is vanquished. The West didn’t notice.
The peaceful human rights movement in Ukraine and elsewhere wasn’t only meant to promote free speech. It was a national liberation war against Russian imperialism conducted by non-military means. Again the West didn’t notice.
Stepan Bandera, leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists who was assassinated by a Moscow agent using a poison gas pistol in 1959, was among the captive nations’ liberation leaders who continued the war of independence against Russian imperialism. The Central Intelligence Agency declassified on January 17, 2017, some 930,000 documents from the CIA Records Search Tool (CREST), which includes an interview with Bandera by a Cologne German radio station in 1954. In it Bandera succinctly described what Russian imperialism is about.
“The ultimate end of the Bolshevik policy is to destroy the peculiar substance of the Ukrainian people in every respect, and to drown the Ukrainian people in the sea of the so-called Soviet people or, rather, in the modern form of the Russian imperialism devouring other people. In this way, Ukraine would allegedly turn into one of the Russian provinces. However, the Bolsheviks dare not speak openly of that end and pursue it in a straight way. On the contrary, they are compelled to apply very complicated means, and even to retreat in some fields. Russia is compelled to do so, on the one hand, by the firm attitude of the whole Ukrainian people in its fight against the Russian imperialism and communism and the revolutionary fight of the Ukrainian nationalistic liberation movement, and on the other hand, by the numerical strength of the Ukrainian people and the universal potential of Ukraine. The striving for independence of the Ukrainian people has not been broken by Russia either by means of mass liquidation of the national cadres or by the unheard-of terrorizing of the whole Ukrainian people, which were carried on by the Soviets from the year 1930 to World War II by means of an artificial famine, mass deportations and executions. Besides terrorizing all opponents of Bolshevism, Russia is trying to apply new tactics: to change the striving for independence of the Ukrainian people into Soviet patriotism. Those tactics manifest themselves especially in today’s Soviet propaganda which recently began to emphasize the role of Ukraine as the second in size Soviet republic, to emphasize the grandeur of the Ukrainian people, the weight of the Ukrainian culture and Ukraine and its people in general.”
Bandera also said at the time:
“The Ukrainian liberation fight is a component of the general liberation fight of all peoples enslaved by Russian imperialism. In our opinion, Bolshevism is only one of the forms of the traditional Russian imperialism. In our fight against the Russian-Bolshevik imperialism, we consider ourselves an ally of all the freedom-loving nations. We offered resistance to the Russian-Bolshevik imperialism in the past, we are opposing it now and we shall oppose it in the future.”
The West didn’t notice. Were the warnings uncomfortable or incredulous to free world leaders? Why didn’t free world leaders subscribe to Ronald Reagan’s characterization of Russia being the evil empire?
Contemporary warnings about Russian hostility have also been overlooked, leaving quizzical expressions on victims, officials and perpetrators.
Maksym Savanevsky, managing partner of PlusOne, founder of Watcher.com.ua and co-founder of Ukrainian Crisis Media Center, in an article posted on his website in May 2015 warned Facebook that it was being hacked by Russian trolls.
He wrote that due to Russian subversion, Facebook in Ukraine has eliminated pro-Ukraine account holders, information and photographs. “Facebook has lost its well-deserved status of a place of freedom for Ukrainians…We believe this is exactly the tactics used by the infamous Russia’s troll factories against Ukrainian civil society to silence its voice…This catastrophic and unprecedented amount shows that Ukraine needs your special attention and assistance in establishing a rapid response to counteract this Russia’s special force brigade(s) on Facebook,” Savanevsky wrote.
The West, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg didn’t notice.
Fulfilling its “mein kampf,” Russia invaded Ukraine in the winter of 2014 and is still waging a brutal war to subjugate the nation. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, General Stepan Poltorak and others have urgently raised the storm warning flags to signal a global Russian blitzkrieg. Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius have joined this chorus of concerned x-captive nations. The West is finally beginning to notice and hopefully will throw its weight in defense of Ukraine and the x-captive nations while shielding itself from harm’s way.
As it strives to develop a practical policy of dealing with Russia and save itself from Moscow’s ruthlessness, the free world would be prudent to admit its past and present lapses in judgment about Moscow’s danger, and accept Russia for the criminal state that it is. Then, short of launching a missile attack against it, the free world should also intensify sanctions against Russian government and business leaders until the pain is felt by every citizen.