Not for 84 years has America found itself in a situation like it has today. In many respects, it feels like the world has reversed into the 1930s. In Europe, we have a world superpower with nuclear capabilities, threatening to invade its smaller neighbor Ukraine for no apparent reason other than to re-annex territory that was once part of the the old U.S.S.R.
Halfway around the world, we have another global superpower with nuclear capabilities threatening to invade a smaller island neighbor Taiwan, simply because they believe both nations should be under one government.
Back in 1937, world leaders were worried about Germany and Japan, both strong, belligerent, militarized nations that had proved eager and willing to swallow up entire nations in quick and decisive military actions, understanding retaliation by world leaders would be weak and ineffective.
Today Russia and China are belligerent nations, eager and willing to swallow up their neighbors in quick and decisive military actions, also understanding retaliation by world leaders would be minimal at best. Additionally, both Russia and China have veto powers in the United Nations Security Council, allowing them to veto any major resolutions against them. A situation like this could bring an end to any effectiveness the United Nations still has, as happened to the League of Nations in 1940.
Russia and China have wanted to move forward with their plans for several years, but America’s leadership and military might had been their main deterrent. However, after the debacle in Afghanistan, America’s leadership has come into question. Now the morale of the most powerful military on Earth is being decimated by their commander-in-chief’s COVID restrictions. The Marine Corps terminated 103 personnel so far, the Army disciplined 2,700 and will begin discharging them in January, the Air Force terminated 27, and the Navy just one as of mid-December, according to NBC News.
Like Hitler, Putin is taking a hard stand against the United States, stating: “Moscow will have to take adequate military-technical measures if the West continues its aggressive course on the threshold of our home.”
Of course he’s worried about Ukraine becoming a member of NATO, as did many other members of the old Soviet block. Putin continued, “We have nowhere to retreat, NATO could deploy missiles in Ukraine that would take just four or five minutes to reach Moscow. They have pushed us to a line that we can’t cross. They have taken it to the point where we simply must tell them, Stop!”
Putin placed thousands of troops and assault vehicles on the border with Ukraine, waiting to see if President Biden actually has the strength of will to back Ukraine, or step aside and allow Russia to gobble it up.
In the east, China deployed heavy bombers and warships well into Taiwanese territorial waters to test world reaction. Taipei’s Taiwan News reported China’s state-run media on Thursday, Dec. 9, warned that Chinese forces would attack U.S. troops if they attempted to come to Taiwan’s aid when the reunification force invades.
To prepare for such military action, over the past 10 years China built massive bases on islands in the South China Sea containing large airfields with surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles. These island bases were designed as a defensive ring around Taiwan to keep out any other country that may attempt to stop such an invasion.
On Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, Taiwan News reported America’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan stating the United States will take every action to ensure that a scenario in which Russia and China simultaneously attack Ukraine and Taiwan never happens.
On Dec. 9, 2021, China’ state-owned Global Times questioned America’s determination to defend Taiwan, if in fact it was attacked by the People’s Liberation Army.
There can be little doubt that Putin and Xi Jinping have discussed this situation, just as Adolf Hitler and Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe did in the late 1930s. The only difference is, will President Biden have the intestinal fortitude to act and build a coalition that can act swiftly to stop World War III?
— This is the opinion of Gerry Feld, whose column is published the second Sunday of the month. He writes about issues from a conservative perspective and is a published novelist.