As we enter into another week of death and destruction in Ukraine, I continue to read the differing views from left, centrist and right leaning news media. Some of the stuff coming out of the left and right is downright stupid, or maybe crazy is a better term. Nevertheless, it is the nuanced conversations that straddle the middle I find most interesting. This week I read two articles from former military officers with quite different views.
- Can We Have Some Real Talk About Ukraine? by Kurt Schlichter
- America’s Hesitation is Heartbreaking, by Eliot A. Cohen
Both discuss the quagmire/ fiasco related to the Poland proposal to send MiG-29 fighter planes to NATO for passing along to Ukrainian forces. The article by Mr. Schlichter basically says the planes would not change the tactical battle dynamics for Ukraine. Sending them would also ratchet up the risk of Putin escalating the war with NATO and possible nuclear weapon use. Whether these points are true is unclear. Nevertheless, Ukraine is asking for planes or for NATO institute a no fly zone.
Having NATO institute a no fly zone is quite different from providing Javelins, Stingers and other lethal aid. Also, Zelensky has requested planes for Ukraine to defend its own skies themselves, and mount operations against Putin’s forces. Which leads me to the article by Mr. Cohen, the reason for putting a pause on transferring these planes seems more likely a coordination failure within the US government, specifically Dept of Defense and Dept of State.
My concern is even if these two had coordinated in advance, we would still be where we are. The American fear of escalation has petrified our government. Putin knows this and has been using brinkmanship to keep us at arms length. Meanwhile he has brought and is bringing troops from Belarus, Chechnya and other countries. He has leveled cities so they are unlivable. I hope NATO is able to unfreeze its boots (and these fighter planes along with other assets) before Putin conquers/ destroys Odessa or Kyiv.
Keeping the war contained to Ukraine may sound like a winning defense for NATO, but what will happen if Ukraine or half of it falls to Putin? Is there really a way to recover? There are geopolitical dimensions with China and Iran that require strong coordination and strategic planning. With news out of Vienna regarding JCPOA negotiations, it seems we have more problems than one hand is not coordinating with the other. Melanie Phillips eloquently identifies the reluctance of the West to take serious what Putin, Xi, Khomeini and others say.
America and the Truth of Asymmetric Warfare, by Melanie Phillips