This week, the United Nations took a member vote to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The vote was 143 to 5. This records one of the strongest denunciations of one nation’s action against another in the history of the U.N. or its predecessor, the League of Nations.
However, current sanctions on Russia only partially restrict its oil and gas sector leaving economic maneuverability for its economy. Russia is still allowed to sell oil on the open market.
In the affairs of men as well as nations, actions speak louder than words.
Russia produces about 10% of the world’s daily demand for oil. The United States purchases approximately 600,000 barrels of Russian oil per day, about 3% of U.S demand. At the writing of this report. America is still buying Russian oil. The Biden administration refuses to turn on the spigot of U.S. production to alleviate the need to buy Russian oil. This, on its face, makes no sense. The President made no mention of this in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
The United States and its allied partners have sanctioned Russia. This is disrupting the supply chains of the world driving up oil prices to $116 per barrel. America then buys oil at this inflated price from Russia to Russia’s benefit.
Over 90% of Russia’s Gross Domestic Product is the export of oil. Sanctions should include the termination of all petroleum exports from Russia immediately. This, along with severing all financial banking services from the world’s federal reserve system, would not only make the war on Ukraine unaffordable, it would bring Russia to its knees economically.
Last night, the Russian military shelled defenseless civilian targets killing innocent men, women, and children. There can be no other strategic purpose in such monstrous, horrific action than to attempt to strike fear and terror in the Ukrainian population. In the face of overwhelming world condemnation, Putin continues to choose macabre truculence as a weapon of war.
Why then are the United States and its allied partners reluctant to impose “ultimate” sanctions? Why exercise dodgy diplomacy?
There are two relevant reasons, both sane and appropriate, but only expectant of success when dealing with a sane adversary. Rational leaders must consider the consequences of “ultimate” sanctions on the rest of the of the world. Russia will not suffer alone financially as a result of fully administered sanctions. If one’s government adversary is sane, he cares about the pain and suffering of his own people. A sane leader measures the outcome of policy over sanctions as a comparison of acceptable cost. If he is insane, he is insensitive to the pain and suffering inflicted on all societies impacted by war, including his own.
The question now is whether Vladimir Putin is unhinged, isolated, and lost in his own delusional reality.
Putin’s actions today are not similar to Adolph Hitler’s actions in 1939. They are exactly the same. Hitler invaded Poland under the premise that he was retaking lands that historically belonged to Germany. He was protecting German-speaking people who lived there. And he sought a new land corridor connecting disparate territories of the old Prussian Empire.
Vladimir Putin has invaded Ukraine under the premise that Ukraine is a territory that historically belonged to Russia. He is protecting Russian-speaking people who live there. And he requires a land corridor connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland.
Both Putin and Hitler promulgated lies in support of their aggression. Just as Hitler did then, Putin now is implementing a massive propaganda campaign inside his country to skew the intent and purpose of war on a peaceful neighbor.
In 1939, Germany was still under the oversight and onus of the Treaty of Versailles. Sanctions were already in place. Hitler ignored the terms of the treaty restricting the development of military arms. Winston Churchill insisted vociferously that Hitler be held accountable for his egregious breach of the treaty’s provisions. Churchill further arduously argued that Hitler be met with force at the German border. Churchill feared that if Hitler broke out of his borders, it would be exponentially more difficult to contain the German blitzkrieg.
Allied leaders queried Churchill on his opinion for potential casualties if Hitler was to be confronted at the German borders. He rendered an honest analysis. His projection was that 10,000 allied troops might be sacrificed. Churchill believed war was coming. He emotionally advised that this cost of loss of life would be much less than a full-scale war later fought in Europe.
Churchill was labeled by leaders of the time as a “war monger.” He was exiled to his home at Chartwell. Dodgy diplomacy continued. Allied leaders relied on their inherent hope that Hitler was sane. He was not. War was his objective. And war came. Hitler was absolutely insensitive to the destruction, chaos, and death that are the ravages of war.
Seventy-two million people died in World War II. At the end of the war, Churchill stated that he had no idea how high the cost would be.
What if Vladimir Putin, in his detached mentality of creating a new world order pursuant to his own madness, believes that he is the protagonist in his own drama of his distorted reality? Then “ultimate” sanctions are not a deterrent. And further, such rejection of diplomacy could change the whole concept of the term “nuclear deterrent.”
There are three elements of war threatening sovereigns today: nuclear war, cyber war, and currency war. Only the United States can wage currency war. The extent of any country’s ability to wage cyber war is unknown. Mutual mass destruction remains the deterrent to nuclear war.
China’s economy is as dependent on U.S. dollars as Russia’s. Restricting U.S. dollars to a sovereign’s economy is the “ultimate” sanction available only to the United States. Nuclear weapons are a deterrent only as long as no one is willing to use them. Only a mad man would use nuclear weapons as a first strike option.
The allied countries cannot rely solely on the hope that Vladimir Putin is sane and will respond to diplomatic sanctions. The unimaginable possibility must be considered that he is not sane and that he must physically be contained inside his borders. This is not the “time to sue for peace” as Churchill was advised prior to World War II.
The United States should immediately cut off purchases of oil from Russia. We as a country should be prepared for shortages, inflation, and commercial disruption. Our leaders should call the American people to the moral cause of our destiny to support freedom in the world.
The national policy should be to become energy independent, operating under a balanced budget with increased authority for the states to make their own decisions on education, healthcare, and infrastructure.
The dilemma then becomes, what if Putin were to actually deploy tactical nuclear weapons? What is the response? The question to be answered is, would America allow the term “nuclear deterrent” to mean that he who uses nuclear weapons succeeds in objective because a nuclear response is not deemed to be worth the cost for opposition to evil?
Secularists would have to determine the answer based upon whether they were willing to live under totalitarianism in exchange for the avoidance of world mass destruction. Christians would have to make the decision based upon Biblical principles. C.S. Lewis said that when Jesus is quoted as saying, “turn the other cheek,” he was talking about individuals, not nation-states. If each individual projected love like Christ, then nations would never go to war.
Christians pray that “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” One tenet of God’s law is that each individual have protected free will. Totalitarianism directly shackles free will. Bigotry, racism, oppression, and slavery are not God’s will. Each person will have to work out their own polemics, whether secularist or religious, on the measures and consequences of war versus pacifism.
However, there are righteous wars. Certainly, World War II not only defended freedom and liberty, but held a tyrant accountable for genocide. It is hard to imagine a world today where Nazism exists or is tolerated. These are the lessons of the “great war” that bring us to the same point in history again, will we “sue for peace” or “never surrender.”
The United States is the vanguard of confronting evil in the world. Russian aggression on Ukraine has united the world through cause and opposition. Whatever the challenge, whatever the threat, whatever the fear personified, may Americans be united for the moral cause of our destiny.
My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe.
What do you believe?