Letter 2 America for February 15, 2022

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Dear America,

This Crimea...I mean Ukraine...business is beginning to get on my nerves.  It's serious, obviously, in that it portends armed conflict in which people will die, be displaced from their homes and homeland, and suffer profoundly in general.  But it bothers me that our diplomats, and even our president keep talking to Vladimir Putin and his henchmen about it.  As his annexation of Crimea demonstrated, he is an autocrat in every respect, and he's going to do what he is going to do.  So as to this vaunted diplomacy, what's the point.  And then of course there's the point that Ukraine doesn't seem very concerned about all this while American and European politicians obsessively wring their hands and predict dire consequences for everyone.  In my opinion, the way to approach all this once everyone has stated his position is the way you have to approach any bully.  You simply say, you do what you're going to do and we'll do what we're going to do, and then in this case, we should just back away and wait until something happens, if it ever does.

It seems much like the prehistory of World War II.  Great Britain sent its prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, to negotiate with Hitler, who was claiming his nation's right to annex part of the then-country of Czechoslovakia, the Sudetenland.   It was a curled strip of land essentially surrounding Czechoslovakia on three sides, inhabited by people of primarily German ancestry.  It had been ceded to Czechoslovakia by treaty after the World War I re-delineation of borders, and there had been some contentiousness amongst the populace of the area ever since.  But be that all as it may, Hitler invoked the German concept of "Lebensraum" as a justification for seizing the Sudetenland, which negotiators led by Chamberlain had acceded to in treaty negotiations that took place in Munich shortly before the war started.  Of course, that history is somewhat more complicated than that, but the overall point is that Hitler was going to take the Sudetenland no matter what was negotiated before Munich, at Munich or after Munich.  Chamberlain came back from Munic with a document that Hitler had signed regaling the world with the claim that it constituted "peace for our time," which as it turns out, it was not.  By the way, FDR went along too.

So here we are with our president and diplomats supplicating for the withdrawal of the Russian force positioned to invade and annex Ukraine as it did Crimea...as Hitler did Sudetenland...and we're kidding ourselves into hoping that Putin will rethink if we just tell him that he's being very naughty.  It won't work.  Putin knows what we and the community of nations are capable of and what we will do.  He is either daunted by all that or he isn't.  There is no benefic purpose in continuing the discussion, which reveals only that it is we who are daunted, and sufficiently so that we have immersed ourselves, and thus staked our putative power on his answer.  I say, let him do what he is going to do, especially since Ukraine and its president seem to be taking Putin's saber rattling with a grain of salt.  We should be waiting to wade in until we are asked to, if then.  When Europe is involved in conflict will be time for us, under the aegis of NATO to participate in attempting to thwart Putin's acquisitive aspirations.  There is nothing to be done now other than to show a supplicating tendency of which he will only take advantage and by which he will only be emboldened. 

When I was going to law school, a professor said to a class I was in that the mark of a good lawyer was as much his understanding of when to stop talking as it was in what he said when he did talk.  It's time to stop talking.

Your friend,


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on February 15, 2022 3:53 PM.

Letter 2 America for January 31, 2022 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for February 19, 2022 is the next entry in this blog.

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