The Crowded Road to Kyiv

The Crowded Road to Kyiv. By Victor Davis Hanson.

Putin feels that Russia was once a great player (defined mostly as “feared”) in world affairs. But now it — i.e., he —  is not. He thinks if he can grab back some of the old Soviet Union’s now lost 100 million people and 30 percent of its territory, then his Russia would again become a superpower — especially given the natural wealth of his former Soviet republics.

He knows that the longer some of these republics are Westernized and become acculturated to the passions of popular culture, the more difficult it will be to coerce them into becoming Russian subordinates. …

He feels we are decadent, soft, pampered — to the point of not replying to his provocations. So, he presses. In his Stalinesque mind, we purportedly do not deserve the power and influence we supposedly inherited at his expense, while his Russia, he boasts, is tough, religious, and deserves far more from the modern age than its current diminished status. Like Stalin, he has developed a visceral dislike of sermonizing Western elites, none of whom he thinks can box, judo kick, fish, shoot, or ride bare-chested at his level. …

Will Ukraine Survive?

In theory, Ukraine should not last, given the numerical odds against it. Mysteriously it almost seems unprepared for a massive invasion. Its roads are apparently not blocked and mined. Putin has been massing troops since November, so why did not NATO flood the country with weapons in late 2021 to ensure endless supplies of anti-tank and anti-plane missiles?

Still, the Russians may, we hope, have a hard time of it in Ukraine — if for no other reason than the country is larger than Iraq in both size and population. It has lots of supply conduits across the borders with four NATO countries that can finally begin pouring in weaponry. An invader that cannot stop resupply from third-party neighbors can rarely subdue its target.

So if in a week Putin cannot shock and awe the elite or decapitate the government, he will have a hard time subduing the population. Time is not on his side. Sanctions are worthless in the short term but eventually they can bite. …

A Deterrent Military?

Factor in the Afghanistan humiliation, the walk away from $80 billion in arms and equipment, a $1 billion Kabul embassy, a multimillion-dollar refit of Bagram Airbase, the woke politicization of the Pentagon, the McCarthyite hunt inside the ranks for white rage/supremacy, the inane rantings of retired admirals and generals, the revolving door of four-stars to defense contractor boards — and in just three years, the military lost a half-century of American public support.

All this and more have eroded the global fear of the U.S. military. We have all but destroyed American trust in our own armed forces (only 45 percent of the Americans poll great confidence in the military).

American Goliath?

America may be woke. It may feel it has transcended dirty fossil fuels and can thrive on wind, solar, and batteries. It may assume it is morally superior, and like 19th-century pith-helmeted British foreign officers, can sermonize to the world, from pride flags and George Floyd murals in Kabul to no need for security in Benghazi.

But we also are mired in $30 trillion in debt. We print $2 trillion a year in mockery of inflation. Our major cities are crime-ridden and the streets medieval with the homeless and sidewalk sewers. Race relations are the worst in memory.

We have no southern border. Nearly 50 million residents were not born in our country — and this challenge at a time when we have given up on assimilation and integration. The woke virus has warped racial and ethnic relations and is destroying the idea of meritocracy. We are in the hold of a Jacobin madness, in a top-down elite race to perdition. To praise America’s past is a thought crime. The ignorant, who have no idea of the date when the Civil War began, nonetheless lecture to the nodding that 1619 not 1776 was America’s real foundational date.

In short, the America of even 1990 no longer exists. To retain our deterrence abroad, we must tighten our belts at home, pump oil and gas, start to balance our budget, junk wokeism as a nihilist indulgence, and recalibrate our military.

When your society is on the way down and too many are just in it for what they can take for themselves, adopting moral superiority and using the media to fashion a fantasy word that flatters you seems like an all too human response. Hence woke.