At the author’s request, this commentary is shared anonymously ...
Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would say something like this. But I feel I must. Even though I know full well that it will achieve nothing.
I am an unashamed peacenik. I have spoken out against war my whole life. My prayer is, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” My favourite saying from my youth is “Suppose they gave a war, and nobody came.”
But I am also the son of a Canadian farm boy who left his home and family to lay down his blood in the fields of France to liberate Europe and rid the world of a tyrant. He quietly suffered from his wounds the rest of his life. It was as a price he was willing to pay so that his children would never have to face a similar horror. It was his hope that this would never happen again. Yet, it has. And, we all have skin in this game; our peace was purchased with our father’s blood.
"Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields."
This poem is from the first World War, where my grandfather, a Scottish immigrant to Canada went to Europe to fight for their freedom and lost a lung to sniper.
I have often wondered what powerful force could cause young men like him to volunteer their lives on a continent halfway across the world? I think I now understand. My Dad was a good man. I wish I was half the man he was.
Today I am in turmoil. Honestly, I am truly encouraged that Putin's actions are actually bringing the West together in astonishing solidarity and support. It gives me great hope. But I have to ask, to what end?
This is the third country in 14 years that Vladimir Putin has invaded, decimated and subjugated. He has murdered thousands and turned millions into refugees. Right now, cities are being leveled. Innocent Ukrainians are dying. I watched in horror as firefighters tried to extinguish a burning corpse, the victim of Putin’s indiscriminate bombing of residential areas. It burned like a wax candle. I wanted to vomit.
So, while it might give me warm fuzzies to think that people around the world are coming together to cry out against Putin, offering their love and moral support, what the people of Ukraine desperately need the most is our help. Physical help. Right there, standing beside them, not behind them at a distance.
Ukraine needs air and ground support. Oh, I know, we’ve all heard the excuses, "if we intervene Putin will consider it an act of war. It could lead to WWIII." But let's not kid ourselves, with our crippling sanctions that have made the ruble almost worthless, and our supplying weapons into Ukraine, Putin already considers himself at war with us.
He knows he has made a mistake in underestimating the Urkrainian people, and he is so deathly afraid we will come to their aid that he has threatened a nuclear response. But, like Kruschev in the Cuban missile crisis, I do not believe he wants nuclear annihilation. Tyrants are keen on self-preservation. But he does want to threatened it, to hide behind it like a shield that will let him carry out his demented fantasies of restoring the Soviet empire unopposed.
And true to form, with much self congratulations for their ‘tough stance’, the West has chosen to let him get away with it. To use the out-numbered and out-gunned people of Ukraine to fight a proxy war on our behalf, serving them up like so much faceless, nameless meat. This is the terrible toll that is being exacted upon Ukrainian families by our failure to intervene.
In doing so we once again prove to Putin that he can commit whatever vile war crimes he desires and we will not respond in force ... which is the only thing a tyrant understands. Sadly, by not stopping him in his tracks, we are setting the stage for this to be repeated again and again. How many more nations does he have plans for in the years ahead? For their support, he’s already promised Belarus access to a seaport, which he is going to have to take by force from another country.
So, let’s play armchair general and consider what could be done.
Right now, a significant portion of Russia's domestic mechanized army is deployed in Ukraine. A huge part of it is strung out in an indefensible 40-mile-long convoy, like sitting ducks.
Much of the rest of Putin’s invading forces are spread out along the south east coast trying to capture cities and secure the coastline. But with air support, well-equipped forces advancing from the west could drive them right back into the sea and retake Crimea. History is full of examples of large armies who were totally destroyed when they allowed themselves to be spread thin and trapped by bodies of water to their rear.
To accomplish these goals, it would first be necessary to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine. I wasn’t sure how possible that would be, until retired General Wesley Clark admitted that it could be accomplished by existing European forces within a week. He should know, he served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000, commanding Operation Allied Force during the Kosovo War. Yes, it would mean taking out some air and missile bases along the Russian side of the border and engaging their aircraft.
But imagine, if the West was to announce to Putin that they have been requested by Ukraine to protect their sovereign airspace, and will do so immediately. That is not an act of war. It is defending a sovereign nation.
Further, what if they make it clear that any military response from Russia will be engaged? And then, set the terms of engagement; while there is no intention of a full-scale invasion of Russia, they will take whatever action is necessary, along either side of the border, to secure the no-fly zone from further incursions.
In my opinion, we stand at a crossroads that will determine how we deal with future power-hungry dictators. And goodness knows, there are enough of them out there.
Although unwanted, this crisis presents the opportunity to save a free nation of 44 million souls and punish a despot by destroying or capturing much of his mechanized army while retaking stolen territory. It would deliver a clear message to Putin, and other murderous tyrants, that the world will no longer tolerate brutal aggression. That the world will not be handcuffed by threats of nuclear retaliation. It might also give the Russian people the resolve to topple the regime and rid the world of a war criminal who has been laughing at us while playing, and winning, a nuclear game of chicken.
Love and moral support are wonderful, and with $5 might get a Ukrainian a coffee. But what they desperately need is hard action. Now. The world must put an end to men like Putin. Tell me, if the rest of the ‘free world’ does not stand together to do this, who will?
Who will come to our aid if some Putinesque whacko gains control of the giant nuclear power to the south and tanks roll across our borders to ‘secure’ our resources and 'liberate' us from our 'socialist oppressors'?
Will heartfelt best wishes protect us? No. We will be alone. We will be consumed.
Remember, all that evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Like I said, I am in turmoil.
That said, cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of social media comments.