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Ukraine must win...
Michael O'Casey
Michael O'Casey's View from the Riverbank

I won’t laugh at 1960s Polish jokes or chuckle at my wife’s suggestion that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs a hairbrush ever again.  Truly, the Polish people and Mr. Johnson are showing some John Wayne “True Grit.”

While President Joe Biden repeatedly explains how the Russians are committing war crimes and threatens legal action, the Poles are taking in thousands of Ukrainian refugees daily and offering the  vital weaponry to defeat the unprovoked Russian invasion.  They proposed the transfer of Russian designed MIG 29 fighter aircraft through NATO to Ukraine to oppose Russian bombers prowling Ukraine airspace.  Ukraine pilots are experienced in flying the MIG 29 and could protect military and innocent civilian targets. 

Additionally, Poland has offered Russian designed T-72 tanks to Ukraine to repel the invaders. In return, they want those tanks replaced by the more advanced U.S. Abrams M1-A1 tanks.   

The Polish offer is generous and sensible.  Ukraine needs more tanks, and the M1-A1  upgrade of Polish armored forces make sense in light of the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine and the possibility that Poland could be Putin’s next target.

Unfortunately President Biden nixed those offers based on fear that such a deal could cause Vladimir Putin to use weapons of mass destruction such as chemical or nuclear bombs. But some military analysts believe Putin might resort to using those weapons anyway if the current war continues and Ukraine cannot be overwhelmed using traditional weapons. To some it would appear that the only logical solution is to let Russia have Ukraine and hope that Putin’s appetite for annexing sovereign European nations would be satisfied.  

If all this sounds a little 1939-ish, it should. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain led the futile effort by Western Europe politicians to prevent war by acquiescing to Adolf Hitler’s territorial demands during that tumultuous period.  Instead of avoiding war, Chamberlain’s appeasement served to embolden Hitler, and the world stumbled into World War II.  In a situation not unlike present day Ukraine, it required a feisty rookie Prime Minister to stare down the German monster and pledge that “we shall defend our Island whatever the cost may be..,”  

We should remember that famous Americans such as U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Joseph Kennedy (President John F. Kennedy’s father), Charles Lindberg, Henry Ford, and more apparently believed Adolf Hitler was unstoppable. Ford and Lindberg actually accepted the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from the Nazis in the late 1930s.  Their fears and inaction served Hitler well.

Now British Prime Minster Boris Johnson appears to be demonstrating a sound historical understanding of why and how the west failed to stop Hitler and a determination not to repeat that mistake.  He is promising more missiles and military hardware to Ukraine.  Could aircraft be next?  It is, at the very least, two months overdue.

Why hesitate?  Allowing Putin to salvage any victory whether it is a face-saving takeover of a port city like Odessa or the potential submission of Ukraine cannot be tolerated.  Ukraine must win, and their promise not to give up an inch of Ukrainian territory must be universally supported.  Putin must not be encouraged.

President Biden and western European politicians must cease splitting hairs in the definition of military support for that ravaged nation which is being mercilessly destroyed as we watch.  Baseless comparisons between tanks and anti-tank weapons or aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons are illogical.  When defending one’s homeland, all of these weapons are defensive.

 The Ukrainians wish to live in their own homes in their own nation peacefully with self-determined government, and they are fighting desperately for those rights.  British Prime Minister Johnson used a well-publicized meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to openly defy the bloodthirsty Russian tyrant who is so obviously cut from Nazi cloth. As the leader of the free world, the United States must not shy away from this undeniable human rights responsibility. This is 2022, and current technology makes us witnesses to the slaughter of innocent civilians almost as it happens so we cannot feign ignorance.  Ukrainians must win for their future and the democratic trajectory of Europe and the world. China, Iran, and North Korea are watching too.

Russia is trying to ramp up the pressure as this is written.  The United States and free nations of the world have a moral obligation to provide the brave Ukrainians with the necessary weapons to defend their homeland.  It requires courage, but we must act before it is too late.