Putin's Ukraine invasion awakens once-sleepy Western nations

U.S. approves NATO sending fighter jets to support Ukraine

Army veteran, former DOD adviser and congressional candidate Cory Mills joins ‘Fox & Friends First’ to discuss ways to support Ukraine in its battle with Russia.

One of the most unexpected reactions to Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of Ukraine has been the muscular response of a West supposedly in decline.  

Previously both Europe and the United States were indifferent in their responses to the successful Russian invasions of Georgia, Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. When Putin went medieval on a stubborn Chechnya in 1999-2000 and nearly leveled its capital of Grozny, the West was again mostly ineffectual.  

More recently, the August 2021 American skedaddle from Afghanistan marked the worst humiliation of the U.S. military in 50 years. Fleeing Americans left their sandbagged NATO allies hanging in Kabul. The hasty retreat further emphasized the disunity of the alliance.  

Most NATO members had followed the German lead in refusing to pay their promised investments in military readiness.  

So, Putin had some cause to believe that his current invasion of Ukraine would elicit the same anemic response, and that his war would be won in two or three days.  

President Biden had successfully fought a congressional effort to sanction the German-Russian Nord Strom 2 pipeline. Biden was sluggish in supplying American Javelin and Stinger weapons to Ukraine when months ago Russia began massing troops on its border.  

Biden also cut back American oil and gas drilling by closing down federally controlled leases and productive fields, canceling the pipelines, and discouraging lending agencies to promote fossil fuel production. In default of energy independence, Biden even begged a hostile Putin to pump more oil.   

Suddenly NATO and EU members have acted more like the rowers at the battle of Lepanto than loud green pacifists.

Putin concluded that the West in general, and America in particular, were in disarray and decline. He remembered Barack Obama’s 2012 hot-mic, quid-pro-quo deal with the Russians, and his refusal to sell Ukraine offensive weapons. He recalled the anti-American German public opinion polls, and the presence of ex-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on the Russian Gazprom board of directors.  

The 120 days of unchecked American riots in summer 2020 coupled with a U.S. wide-open border, energy curtailment, high inflation, bitter impending midterm elections, and internal discord convinced Putin that America could care less about Ukraine. 

But suddenly NATO and EU members have acted more like the rowers at the battle of Lepanto than loud green pacifists. New German Chancellor Olaf Scholz lectured his parliament that Germany would now refute its last 20 years of Russian appeasement. Berlin would supposedly develop its own fossil fuel reserves, end energy dependence on Putin’s Russia, rearm, and meet all its prior broken NATO promises.  

Suddenly, other NATO members dropped their usual anti-American, ankle-biting boilerplate and outdid each other in promises to rush sophisticated weapons to Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron answered a saber-rattling Putin in near Trumpian style, by reminding the world that NATO too had a deadly nuclear deterrent.  

European financial ministers sought to outdo their American treasury counterparts in discovering creative new measures to sanction, and, indeed, bankrupt the Russian war machine.  

If Americans still believed that European energy policy is always hostage to extremist Green parties, they should look in the mirror. The American Left is more terrified of its woke green base than German socialists are of their own radical environmentalists. 

What caused the Western reawakening – and will it last? 

Most obviously, Ukraine fought the Russians in a manner few expected. Its blood-and-guts resistance shamed Ukraine’s European neighbors. They concluded that a non-NATO frontier state had done more to hurt Putin than all the loud communiques from NATO headquarters.  

Whereas Western leaders temporize and once talked in platitudes in fear of disrupting the status quo, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy roamed everywhere on the battlefield. The supposedly invincible Putin in contrast looked bloated, confused, petulant and terrified of catching a bug – even as the ubiquitous Zelenskyy spurned the likelihood of catching a bullet. 

The West likewise woke up to the reality that its weapons like Javelin and Stingers were superior to those of both China and Russia. The West, not Moscow or Beijing, still controls world financial markets.  

Despite its reckless spending and inflation, the West still controls the flow of money and investment. Their sanctions threaten not just to hurt but even to destroy Putin.  

Will such Western confidence last?  

If Putin finally crushes Ukraine like he did Chechnya, and if China then talks loudly of doing the same to Taiwan, the new woke West will have its uplifting rhetoric tested by a far tougher reality of confronting two angry and preening nuclear states.  

If Zelenskyy fails, and gasoline stays at astronomical levels,  there will be tremendous pressure on individual Western nations to go rogue and cut a deal with Putin and by extension China.  

So, the verdict is out on the new Churchillian West.  

But for now, it was welcome to see Europe and America put an end to their woke apologies, and instead to be encouraged by their proud shared past to face defiantly a dangerous present. 

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