Russia President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was the act of a tyrant and bully. There will be no benefit to Russia in the long run of plunging the world into war. And the lesson of history is that the appeasement of tyrants and bullies leads to worse behaviour.
There is something perverse in the human soul that admires bullies and tyrants. In Africa, the cult of the big man or bully has led to decades of poverty, suffering and death.
Those who admire tyranny simply have zero understanding of the long-term consequences of tyranny, and fail to appreciate history. Tyranny may be the oldest form of government. However, reining back the historically newfound ideas of freedom and democracy to appease strongmen is a recipe for conflict, war and suffering.
The appeasement of Hitler in 1939 led directly to the Holocaust and the massacre of six million Jews. Had the west acted aggressively and decisively when Hitler’s armies invaded European territories instead of “shivering in fear” at the heel of a Nazi strongman, the war may have ended sooner with the saving of millions of lives.
Once again, the world is witnessing the result of the actions of a tyrant and bully. However, this time the west has the armour of history to refer to.
The only solution to bullies is military deterrence.
The classroom bully is frequently scared of the strong but silent student who is unafraid of his shenanigans.
The bullying man or woman is frequently abusive and ignorant until a no-nonsense type places a signpost with a barrier stating, “Enough is enough.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman had no qualms about dropping two atom bombs on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1944.
Then with the Lend-Lease policy, Mr. Roosevelt committed United States resources to arming the Russians on the eastern flank. Shortly after that came the attack from the northern Atlantic in the west and the sacking of North African Nazi forces by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to the south.
The Western Alliance then marched into Italy in support of allied armies to the east and west.
Those three military efforts placed a steel belt around Adolf Hitler that eventually crushed Nazi Germany, leading to the suicide of the madman. The end of Nazi Germany saw the establishment of a global order that despite the Cold War kept the planet relatively stable for 70 years.
Back to 1939
Today, with Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the world is back where it was in 1939, where raw military power prevails over decency, freedom and democracy. In fact, this moment is more dangerous than 1939: Today’s actors possess nuclear weapons and frightening military technologies that didn’t exist back then.
The west is going to have to fight a long cold war with Russia using mostly conventional military tools to deter aggression. Nuclear confrontation between Russia and NATO is inconceivable as the result will be Armageddon and the end of humanity as we know it today.
The world has suddenly become much more dangerous, and the western alliance will have to retool its military to fight a cold war that may well hearken back to the proxy type conflagrations between Russia and the US in various corners of the world, with China allying itself with Russia.
The lesson of history is to be prepared for the tyrant. And the best way is to remain strong, prepared and resolute.
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