Isn’t the modern world great?
We can sit on our couches and eat popcorn while we watch the slaughter of Ukrainians 24/7 on cable news, listen to military analysts describe how Russian troops are overrunning their neighbor and be reassured that Putin is losing the war by politicians wagging their fingers. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden—the most powerful man in the world—has told the Ukrainian people to keep a stiff upper lip because America will not send one U.S. soldier or airplane to fend off the onslaught. He has, however, imposed strong sanctions and is taking away the super-yachts of the oligarchs. Imagine the horror when one of the billionaires pulls up to his dock in his Rolls and finds one of his prized toys gone. He is sure to call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war—if he doesn’t want to risk being sent to the gulag. Putin is so impressed with this display of moral clarity, and defense of democracy and the world order, that he has escalated the bombardment of civilians.
Imagine the comfort the Taiwanese must be feeling. Why would China hesitate to seize their homes when it is clear we would do nothing to stop them for fear of being drawn into a war? The West is allowing Putin to forcibly return Ukraine to Mother Russia. How long before Taiwan is forced to be governed by the mainland?
For American policymakers, failure is not an option; it is an objective. No one apparently noticed how sanctions have failed to curb Chinese behavior, force Russia out of Crimea or persuade Iran to give up its nuclear ambition. While sanctions have been increased on the first two, Biden is hell-bent on eliminating sanctions on Iran over the objections of every country in the region that is threatened by the mullahs.
When Jews say, “Never Again!” they primarily mean that a holocaust against the Jews can never be allowed to be repeated. The phrase has come to represent more broadly a commitment to prevent genocide. What the years since the end of World War II have taught us, however, is the emptiness of the slogan.
The war had hardly ended when Jews were slaughtered by Poles in Kielce. Jews have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. American Jews were killed in their synagogue. Jews around the world now feel threatened by the upsurge of anti-Semitism.
On the world stage, history has been even harsher in revealing the failure of the West to live up to the promise, “Never Again!”
- China murdered as many as 1.5 million people during the Cultural Revolution, massacred Tibetans and is now engaged in the ethnic cleansing of the Uyghurs.
- The Khmer Rouge killed more than 1 million people in Cambodia.
- As many as 800,000 people were killed in the Rwandan genocide.
- More than 200,000 Hutus were massacred in the Congo.
- Idi Amin killed as many as 300,000 Acholi and Lango people.
- Genocides in Somalia and Iraq killed as many as 400,000 people.
- Myanmar has been engaged in the genocide of the Rohingya people.
- Approximately 40,000 people died in the Bosnian genocide.
Where were the enforcers of “Never Again!”?
Biden’s excuse for not intervening in Ukraine is that we would end up in direct conflict with Russia, and that means war and the possibility of the nightmare scenario of nuclear escalation. I get that. Few people in the United States would support a war right now. What happens, however, if Russia attacks another neighbor like Finland, which is also not in NATO? Biden and NATO have set the precedent of non-intervention in non-NATO countries so Putin could create a new Soviet Union with all of them. My advice to the Finns is to strap on their skis and start heading for Sweden. Wait, Sweden is not in NATO either. Scrap the skis and buy a ticket to any country outside Europe.
What if Putin decides it’s time to reunite NATO member Poland with a new Soviet Union? Does anyone believe the United States is prepared to fight for Poland? We didn’t the last time the Russians invaded. Biden and NATO will have the same excuse of not wanting to start a fight with Russia that could escalate to a nuclear war. You think the American people will be clamoring to send our troops to protect Poles and risk Armageddon?
Do you know that NATO has a motto? It is animus in consulendo liber—translated on the alliance website as “in discussion a free mind.” Not quite as inspiring as “Never Again!” Based on its overall uselessness to prevent aggressors from threatening the world order or engaging in genocide, a more appropriate motto might be “NATO Shmato.”
Biden initially resisted taking the one action analysts felt could have the most impact on Russia without us firing a shot—an oil and gas embargo. Russia is the world’s largest exporter and third-largest oil producer, but 80 percent goes to Europe and China. Russian oil only accounts for 5 percent of America’s crude imports, according to Fortune magazine.
Biden’s hesitation had nothing to do with Russia or Ukraine; it was solely based on his personal interest in political survival and holding on to his majority in Congress. That is already a longshot for a variety of reasons, first among them the economy. Inflation hit a 40-year-high and will worsen as gas prices increase. A February ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 75 percent of Americans rate the economy’s condition as not so good or poor; 58 percent disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy; 54 percent say the economy has gotten worse under Biden; and 35 percent say they are personally worse off under his presidency.
If James Carville’s famous admonition regarding elections is correct—“It’s the economy, stupid”—Biden and many Democrats are dead politicians walking.
Embargoing Russian oil will make the situation worse, but Biden is more to blame than Putin. Besides taking measures to cripple the domestic energy industry, in his pique over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Biden has refused to talk to the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia—Mohammed bin Salman, who has his hand on the oil spigot that could spell life or death to Democrats’ political hopes. While the United States is largely energy independent and relies less on Persian Gulf oil than in past, OPEC—led by the Saudis—influences global oil prices, which affect what Americans pay for gas.
Biden alienated the prince on multiple levels—shunning him to humiliate and ostracize him, withdrawing support for Saudi Arabia’s war with Yemen, taking the Iran-backed Houthis off the U.S. terrorism list and ignoring Saudi warnings about returning to the failed nuclear deal. Consequently, MBS is in no mood to do any favors for the man who is trying to remove him from power. Not surprisingly, the Saudis have ignored Biden’s pleas to pump more oil and, instead, helped drive the price of oil above $100.
Biden does have another option—end sanctions on Iranian oil, which he appears prepared to do to restore the nuclear deal. Nevertheless, if the price continues to rise (it now averages more than $4 a gallon) and Americans are paying $5 or $6 for a gallon of gas in November, Democrats might as well join the Finns in looking for more hospitable surroundings.
Yes, it’s easy to paint doomsday scenarios for war, but the same people rarely bother to consider the consequence for failing to act. As of today, the U.S. State and Defense Departments had no shortage of excuses for not rescuing Jews in Europe or bombing the concentration camps. The result was millions of dead Jews, a price our government was willing to pay. We’ve been hearing similar justifications for not using military force to stop Iran’s nuclear program; instead, Biden appears prepared to sign a new agreement that will not prevent Iran from getting the bomb but will reward their defiance with tens of billions of dollars to continue their malevolent activities.
Does anyone believe the world’s response would be any different if Putin was intent on exterminating the Jews? We could shout “Never Again!” until we’re blue in the face and, while Israel would do what it can to rescue Jews, Biden would make more hortatory speeches demanding that Putin halt the killing and mumble” about possible war crimes, and then turn down the volume on the TV and move on to more important matters over which he has even less influence, such as climate change, abortion, gun violence, voting rights, the COVID-19 pandemic and “Build Back Better.”
After Iran acquires the bomb, who will come to the aid of the Jews if the mullahs fulfill their threats to destroy Israel? Yes, Israel will defend itself, but should it have to do so alone? NATO will make the same excuses it is making now because Israel is not a member (Congress designated it as a major non-NATO ally, but Israel’s effort to join in the 1950s was rebuffed). If Biden signs the appeasement deal, he will give Iran the license to create a nuclear deterrent like Russia, North Korea and China that would leave the West impotent to stop its radical Islamic agenda and hegemonic ambitions.
Unlike the Russians, the Iranians don’t fear a nuclear war because they believe the country is big enough to withstand an Israeli second strike. For them, the worst- and best-case scenarios are that they go to Paradise.
Instead of taking action to stop Iran from committing genocide, the most likely scenario is that the United Nations would pass a resolution condemning Israel for responding, liberals would accuse Israel of endangering the Palestinians, the media would keep a running tally of casualties based on Iranian sources, and the human-rights organizations would say Israel was using disproportionate force and committing war crimes (they’ve probably already written the report and just need to add the date).
“Never Again!” has been relegated to a hollow bumper sticker slogan, like “Peace Now!” The response to Putin’s aggression is just the latest proof that we are wasting our breath. The world is content to let aggression and genocide happen again and again.
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”