Why Putin Must Fail and Ukraine Must Win
President Biden was right when he told Putin, “I don’t think you have a soul.”
The United States became the leader of the Free World during World War II. America led a successful allied coalition that crushed fascism. In the ensuing Cold War, America contained and then defeated communism. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 unleashed a democratic wave that toppled communist governments in Eastern Europe and led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined with the 2008 financial crisis to weaken American leadership and allow authoritarian governments in Russia and China to challenge the democratic wave.
We are now living at a critical historic turning point. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine represents a direct challenge to American leadership of the Free World. Putin believes the Western democracies are weak and authoritarian governments are the wave of the future.
Vladimir Putin is a brutal, authoritarian tyrant. President Biden was right when he told Putin, “I don’t think you have a soul.” Indeed, he doesn’t. Putin is currently demonstrating that he is a war criminal by ruthlessly bombing apartment buildings, hospitals, and schools. The besieged city of Mariupol embodies Putin’s barbaric disregard for human life.
Putin must be defeated because he is evil. He must also be defeated because a Russian victory in Ukraine will embolden authoritarian governments in China, Iran, and North Korea. The dictators in these countries will conclude that the democracies are weak and can be successfully challenged. For example, Chinese President Xi Jinping will perceive American weakness as a signal he can invade Taiwan.
The Ukrainians are currently the tip of the global democratic spear. We must help their heroic men and women repel the now battered Russian war machine and win the war. Ukraine is fighting for more than their independence. They are also fighting for core Western values – freedom, liberty, self-determination, and the rule of law.
New Hampshire’s state motto is “Live Free or Die!” This motto is a succinct statement of America’s historic mission. The United States and our NATO allies have successfully imposed crippling economic sanctions on the Russian economy while also sending a stream of weapons to Ukraine. But we can do more. The Russian army is not 10-feet tall. They can be defeated. We must turn the flow of military assistance into an irresistible flood that will overwhelm Putin forces and enable Ukraine to win the war.
FOR DISCUSSION AND WRITING
1. List two reasons why it is essential for Putin to lose and Ukraine to win.
2. Write a letter to President Zelensky attempting to persuade him to accept
a cease-fire in place. What are the advantages of a cease-fire in place?
What are the disadvantages?
3. “Live Free or Die” – What do you think this means for us today? What do you
think the author’s point of view is on this quote. What additional relevant
information could he add to support his viewpoint?
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Today’s Commentary draws upon insights from essays by Tom Friedman, Eliot A. Cohen, and Anne Applebaum. I especially recommend Applebaum’s essay, “A Ukrainian Win is the Only Acceptable Endgame.”
Questions 1 – 3 refer to the excerpt below:
“The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those violations of treaties and those ignorings of humane instincts which today are creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality.
Those who cherish their freedom and recognize and respect the equal right of their neighbors to be free and live in peace, must work together for the triumph of law and moral principles in order that peace, justice and confidence may prevail in the world. There must be a return to a belief in the pledged word, in the value of a signed treaty. There must be recognition of the fact that national morality is as viral as private morality.”
1. The ideas expressed in the excerpt differed from the prevailing United States approach to foreign policy issues primarily in that Roosevelt was
A. arguing to expand the role of the United States in the world
B. encouraging the United States to avoid political entanglements in Europe
C. seeking to promote United States influence throughout Latin America
D. encouraging new laws that would give the United States international policy power
2. The excerpt best reflects an effort by Roosevelt to
A. encourage the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles
B. promote the acquisition of new territories abroad
C. contain the spread of Soviet-dominated communism
D. overcome opposition to participation in the impending Second World War
3. Which of the following best represents continuity in the years after 1945 with the ideas that Roosevelt expressed in the excerpt?
A. The conviction and execution of suspected Soviet spies in the United States
B. United States military commitment to countries battling communist insurgents
C. United States membership in an international peacekeeping body
D. The rise of peace organizations opposed to the buildup and use of
Author · Instructor