Moral clarity requires clarity — and failing to properly define our hostile relationship with the Putin regime hasn’t helped anything. In fact, things have only gotten worse. Forget the talk about Russia being our “geopolitical foe,” it’s time to admit the Russian bear is back on the march.
I realize such talk is unfashionable. One of the many unfortunate aspects of the Bush presidency was the backlash it created against ideas that should have transcended the Bush era. The kind of moral leadership demonstrated by men like Winston Churchill in World War II and Ronald Reagan in the Cold War were, in a sense, wrongly discredited by adventurism.
But the opposite of Bush’s swaggering cowboy diplomacy has been a sort of impotent yuppie diplomacy — and the latter has worked even worse than the former.
The trend today is to be cautious and calm. To downplay the importance of any provocation — based on the assumption that one should never look rattled. To appease and allow lines to be crossed without retribution.
When it comes to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, we may have little military recourse — but we can at least stop pretending they are anything other than an evil nation attempting to restore an empire.
Admitting reality is the first step toward recovery.
Think of it this way. If your wife or girlfriend repeatedly cheats on you, and you tolerate it, you are a cuckold. You lose respect in the community. Now, gaining respect does not require declaring war on your ex, but preserving your dignity does at least require extricating yourself from this toxic situation. Pretending things are fine is not a solution.
Yes, sanctions are a good idea, but not nearly as important as moral clarity and leadership. This has to be the first step.
It’s time we make it very clear that we view Putin’s continued aggression as a challenge to Western Civilization — that we harbor no illusions otherwise. And no, we are not going to stay “friends.”