Larry Elder: Putin’s war on Ukraine — a graver time of reckoning

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

In 2008, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military forces invaded Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union from which it declared independence in 1991. He faced little resistance and suffered no real consequences.

When in 2014, Putin invaded and annexed Crimea, Ukraine, he faced little resistance and suffered no real consequences. On Feb. 24 of this year, Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, most of the 30 NATO member states spend less than the targeted 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, while many European nations, most notably Germany, grow more dependent than ever on Russia for their energy. In the span of little more than a year, America, under the Biden administration, has gone from the historic shift of achieving energy independence in 2020 (exporting more petroleum products than importing) to importing a record amount of oil and petroleum products from Russia in 2021.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, on Sept. 30, 1938, returned from the Munich Conference and waved the following printed statement:

“We, the German Fuehrer and Chancellor (Adolf Hitler) and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe. We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe.”

Hours later in front of the prime minister’s residence, Chamberlain read the statement, adding: “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time…

“Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

On Oct. 5, 1938, in response, Conservative Member of Parliament Winston Churchill spoke for 45 minutes. He said: “I will … begin by saying the most unpopular and most unwelcome thing. I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat. …

“I think you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured only by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi regime. … It is the most grievous consequence of what we have done and of what we have left undone in the last five years — five years of futile good intentions, five years of eager search for the line of least resistance, five years of uninterrupted retreat of British power, five years of neglect of our air defenses. …

“We have been reduced from a position where the very word ‘war’ was considered one which could be used only by persons qualifying for a lunatic asylum. We have been reduced from a position of safety and power — power to do good, power to be generous to a beaten foe, power to make terms with Germany, power to give her proper redress for her grievances, power to stop her arming if we chose, power to take any step in strength or mercy or justice which we thought right — reduced in five years from a position safe and unchallenged to where we stand now.

“When I think of the fair hopes of a long peace which still lay before Europe at the beginning of 1933 when Herr Hitler first obtained power, and of all the opportunities of arresting the growth of the Nazi power which have been thrown away, when I think of the immense combinations and resources which have been neglected or squandered, I cannot believe that a parallel exists in the whole course of history. …

“And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”

After World War II, Churchill said, “There was never a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action.” Now, with the possibility of war between nuclear powers, the stakes are even higher.

Larry Elder is a bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host. His latest book, “The New Trump Standard,” is available in paperback from and for Nook, Kindle, iBooks and Google Play. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit Follow Larry on Twitter @LarryElder.


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