May 21, 2022

Tucker Carlson is brilliant. His nightly conservative commentaries on FOX are usually spot on. Even more importantly, he has the skills, contacts, and experience to predict the long-term effects of the latest Biden blunder. That gives Tucker the ability to foresee tomorrow’s headlines today. But even the best broadcasters are occasionally wrong. For example, Carlson adamantly opposed any U.S. involvement in Ukraine at any level. Russia’s invasion was devastating to the Ukrainian people. but our response to Putin’s recklessness produced incredible benefits for the United States and the West. That’s cold, but also true.

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I hate war. I fought in two of them and reported on more. When Putin invaded Ukraine, it was an act of war. The Ukrainians defended themselves. All the armchair experts expected the Russian tricolor to fly over Kyiv within a week. Even Joe Biden gave his tacit permission for the invasion by announcing he would not have too much of a problem with a “limited incursion.” Putin’s only problem was he forgot to clear the conquest of the supposedly easy-to-overrun Ukraine with the Ukrainians.

Carlson spoke out against any American involvement even before the Russian troops crossed the border. If he was only speaking about active American military involvement, the “boots on the ground” threshold, he was right. But Carlson’s definition of American involvement even included opposition to sending money or weapons to the Ukrainian military. That was a mistake, and he is only compounding it now by opposing further U.S. funds for Kyiv.

For weeks Tucker and many others constantly object to the 50-billion-dollar price tag for our Ukrainian support. On the contrary, I think it is the best defense money we have spent in decades. In realpolitik terms, this is war on the cheap. This concept is nothing new. The USSR tied up our American military for decades by supplying weapons to North Vietnam. The names of 50,000+ dead Americans are chiseled into the black memorial monolith in Washington. Soviet losses were estimated to be fewer than 150 pilots and advisors.

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This time, for about 7% of our annual military budget and few, if any American, lives at risk, we accomplished in four months what everyone thought impossible. We proved to Russia, Europe, and the world that the Red Army has no possibility of forcing its way through the Fulda Gap and overrunning most of Europe. The fear of that drove our military thinking, troop deployments, and tax-dollar spending for decades. We stationed large numbers of U.S. troops in Germany since 1945 to prevent the predicted Soviet move west. The cost was uncalculatable.

Thanks to the Ukrainians’ skill and bravery, augmented by Western military supplies, Putin’s power to dictate policy in Europe has evaporated. His supportive oligarchs are losing their cash cow businesses and Putin himself is ruling, and perhaps living, on borrowed time.

Image: Destroyed Russian tanks. YouTube screen grab.

Putin’s ego, Ukrainian bravery and tenacity, and America’s $50 billion dollars of support did for us what 77 years of diplomacy and trillions of dollars of cold war policies and spending failed to do. The willingness of NATO countries to defend each other after a Russian attack was always a whispered worry in diplomatic and military circles. Our response, along with the Brits and other NATO countries, convinced the world the Russian Bear is far from the all-powerful ferocious beast the Soviet and Russian PR machines told us it was. And we did it without the commitment of NATO conventional ground, naval, or air assets. Moscow’s military always put on a grand May Day parade in Red Square but it couldn’t even supply fuel to their tanks stalled on the road to Kyiv.

Putin’s action drove Finland and Sweden to action. For decades they believed their neutrality would protect them from any Russian onslaught. Now they are wisely putting their faith in the combined military might of NATO and the U.S.

Ukraine was never the ultimate target. Because of his failure in Ukraine, Putin’s long-range goal of wiping out independent Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia is long gone. He always wanted to force those three former puppet states back under his control. He dreamed of a land bridge to Kaliningrad but all those dreams died on the road to Kyiv.

Vlad’s adventurism also significantly weakened him personally. For decades, Russia was Putin and Putin was Russia. This weakened Putin creates a very weakened Russia, militarily and diplomatically. If anyone needs proof Putin is weakened, Italy just seized his $750 million mega yacht. No one would have dared do that four months ago.