Today, the world is poised on the brink of total War. At no other time in our lives have we faced such a threat. Not one, but two conflicts threaten to escalate into first a regional dispute and then possibly a thermonuclear war that would engulf the entire world. I’m speaking, of course, of the Wars in Ukraine and Gaza.
Although the risks are incredibly grave, we seem only to get escalation from our leaders in Washington. In less than two years, Washington has gone from supplying the Ukrainian Military with its first advanced artillery (the Hi Mars Systems) to anti-aircraft batteries (the Patriot System) to America’s main battle tanks (the M1 A1 Abrams Tank) to now state of the art, F-16 Fighter Jet, an aircraft capable of carrying a nuclear weapon. No doubt, the Russian Military will treat each F-16 as if it is nuclear-armed and a threat not only in the theater of Ukraine but also to the Russian homeland.
America seems incapable of taking a step back from either the conflict in Ukraine or Gaza. Indeed, the US has twice vetoed the United Nations’ call for a cease-fire in Gaza — over the vast majority of UN Members.
Far from seeking negotiations, the rhetoric from Washington continues to become increasingly contentious. Just last week, President Joe Biden asserted that if we don’t send more military aid to Ukraine, then “American boys may have to fight Russian soldiers.” An assertion made more plausible by the actions of the President.
Likewise, Lindsey Graham, the senior Senator from South Carolina, recommended that the United States should ‘blow Iran off the map because they have supported the Houthi rebels, who are now threatening shipping in the Red Sea.
Neither Biden nor Lindsey are serious about peace. Regrettably, they are continuing the actions of a nation that has become the most warlike over the past half-century. It saddens me to say that this is my country, after all.
In the 23 years of this new 21st Century, America has been involved in no less than 13 military conflicts. As a country, we are beginning a new conflict every two years. These conflicts have included America’s longest-lasting War, the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, and the recent incursion into Libya. All of these conflicts fell under the general rubric of the “War on Terror” — the first time this country has gone to battle against a “concept” instead of a country. Certainly an amorphous justification for War, it has placed this country in its most belligerent posture ever.
The distinguishing factor about the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza is that they do not involve US Soldiers. A fact we fervently hope will continue. Unfortunately, many of us remember the progress in the Vietnam War, where the conflict progressed from military support to military advisors to active US “boots on the ground” — a regrettable circumstance that resulted in 58,000 American KIA.
Of course, the Administration hopes that American’s memories are short and that we won’t remember these past escalations. Instead, we will accept their argument of an “antiseptic” war, one without American casualties. A conflict that’s “good for business” in supporting America’s vast network of Defense Contractors. This argument by the President’s spokespeople ignores the pain and suffering in Ukraine, where over half a million have died — a staggering loss of life and a blight on humanity.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the conflict in Ukraine is how it has divided the American Public. Just by mentioning the word “Ukraine” in an article that I write, I know that it will bring a flood of responses, both positive and negative. Over time, responses have changed from solidly pro-Ukraine War to mixed and now leaning anti-Ukraine. It reflects the differing sources of information that people receive. Many American mainstream news outlets have been solidly pro-Ukraine since the beginning. Some European and alternative news sites have been equally anti-Ukraine War. And the comments reflect these differing sources of news.
We’re all familiar with Opinion Polls. They’re a survey of people’s current view of a particular issue. While they’re acceptable, as far as they go, they’re also generally hypothetical. “Who will you vote for in the next election?” It’s purely theoretical until the vote occurs (Exit Polls being an exception).
However, other ways exist to measure a population’s attitude toward a given issue. I consider military Recruitment during a time of War an excellent measure of whether a populace supports the war effort.
The current Ukraine War shows marked differences between the three belligerents. According to the publication Military.com, the United States is currently suffering a “Recruiting Crisis in 2023,” with every major service, except the US Marine Corps, falling below their goals for the year. The Air Force saw Recruitment down about 10%, the Army down 15%, and the US Navy down 20%. All numbers are preliminary, as year-end results have yet to be released. But clearly, these are not good trends.
It’s in Ukraine that we see the real issues with Recruitment. Here, the country must replace all those soldiers who are no longer capable of fighting, the wounded and the dead. At the same time, Ukraine must keep up with the steadily increasing numbers of Russian soldiers who appear on the other side of the battle lines.
In his latest comments, President Zelensky indicated that Ukraine will need half a million recruits to sustain its War effort in 2024. When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the Ukrainian Government immediately declared Martial Law and made every male, aged 18 to 60, subject to military service. Since then, Ukraine has expanded its recruitment efforts by including Women and Older Men.
That half-million is a fascinating number as it is both the number of recruits needed and the number of military-eligible males who have fled the country. It indicates the current War is unpopular with at least a portion of the Ukrainian population.
On the other hand, Russia stands in marked contrast to either the United States or Ukraine. Whereas those two countries suffer a “Recruitment Drought,” Russia exhibits remarkable numbers of recruits. In a recent address, Vladimir Putin announced that 570,000 new soldiers have signed contracts with the Russian Military Services. Although many may claim that this is mere propaganda by the Russian leader, it shows the same consistent growth in the Russian Military as exhibited in Year One of the conflict, when Russia reported they recruited 370,000 new soldiers.
As a side note, assuming these trends continue, we can project that the Russian Military Forces will out-man the American Military Forces by the end of 2024. The website globalfirepower.com estimated that, at the beginning of 2023, there was only a hair’s breadth difference between the US Military, ranked #1, and the Russian Military, ranked #2. (The mathematical difference was .0002). This change in personnel ranking should be enough to move Russia into the number one ranking, displacing the US, which has held that position since World War II. Such is the tectonic shift in global military power due to the Ukraine Conflict.
The Indispensable Nation
Of all the nations on earth, there is but one that holds the key to War and peace: Ukraine and Gaza. Neither Russia nor China, both superpowers, have little to do with Gaza. And both Ukraine and Israel are eliminated because both have little to do with the other’s conflict.
No, the only nation that will determine the outcome of both conflicts is the United States. Without US support, neither Ukraine nor Israel could pursue their respective wars. Ukraine has become entirely dependent upon the military and financial aid the Americans provide. It is reported that much of the Ukraine Government and Social Programs are operational only because of those “Aid Packages” supplied by the US Congress.
This over-the-top support for these two countries is the most remarkable action I’ve ever seen by an American Government. It is a function of how deep the hatred for Russia and Hamas has grown. Mention Putin of Muslims in many circles in this country, and the profound disdain is palpable. For many in this country, and especially for our Government, this country has taken sides. Russia and Hamas are not just Ukraine and Israel’s enemies; they have become our enemies also. We have inserted ourselves into conflicts far from our own shores and distant from our national interests.
What is truly remarkable is how far we’ve drifted from the heartfelt advice of our first President, George Washington. Washington implored those following him from just this kind of conflict in his farewell letter to the nation.
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican Government.
But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other.
Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests.
The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.
Washington’s Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
Today, the interests of Ukraine, Israel, and the United States have become fused into one. While it may be difficult for those within the US Borders to see this, it is becoming increasingly apparent to the rest of the world. The latest UN Vote for a Cease-Fire in Gaza had 120 Nations affirm a halt in fighting, while a mere 13 other countries joined the United States in voting to continue the fight.
The United States, which for generations has been the chief advocate for International Harmony and Cooperation, has given up its mantel and cast its lot with Ukraine and Israel in War—wars which find much of the world in opposition.
By becoming a belligerent in two Regional Conflicts, America has lost its position as an advocate for Peace and risks losing its mantel as Leader-of-the-Free-World.