OpinionWorld News

America is at war

We require leaders with the will to admit it.

U.S President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
U.S President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Don Ritter
Don Ritter was a Republican member of Congress representing Pennsylvania from 1979-1993. He holds a doctorate in science from MIT.

A secure future for America is tied to winning two related shooting wars, one in Ukraine and the other in Israel. Victory will weaken the Russia-Iran-China axis that is at war with the United States. The will and a strategy to win are crucial and will require strong U.S. leadership, particularly from the president of the United States.

In our war with the Russia-Iran-China axis (North Korea is the junior partner), American troops are not engaged directly at this time, but those of our Ukrainian and Israeli allies experience death and destruction every day. The sooner the American people and their elected officials recognize that we are at war—by proxy, for now—the better off we’ll be.

Our leadership is fearful of speaking this hard truth. This incapacity at the top is fueling a new anti-war strain in American politics at home and the perception of American weakness among adversaries and fence-sitters abroad. The president needs to marginalize domestic opposition as the isolationist right and the progressive left are both proposing the equivalent of surrender. The right seeks to leave Ukraine to its own devices against Russia and the left is opposed to a complete Israeli victory over Hamas.

On one side, led to a large extent by the oft-quoted on Russian television ex-talk-show host Tucker Carlson and his Republican colleagues on the far-right, we are experiencing a movement chillingly reminiscent of the original isolationist “America Firsters” of the late 1930s. Those isolationists were silenced, but only after Pearl Harbor and Hitler’s subsequent declaration of war against the United States four days later.

Given the views of today’s America Firsters on Ukraine, we must ask about their predecessors: Would America have gone to war in Europe had Hitler not declared war on us first? If not, one might imagine a Nazi-controlled Europe from the British Isles to an eastern border somewhere between Warsaw and Moscow. Similarly, allowing Russia to defeat our ally Ukraine would lead to autocratic Russia’s domination of Europe. It would be a victory for the axis, and a disaster for America and Israel in the Middle East.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the progressive left, the base of the Democratic Party, is supporting the Palestinian cause while failing to acknowledge the atrocities of Hamas, a proxy of America’s enemy and an axis partner Iran. Progressive American demonstrators against Israel are allied with Muslim-American groups of all origins, and particularly, with young people from the Middle East and South Asia who are studying in the United States. Their demonstrations appear to be well-organized and funded. By the axis perhaps? Certainly, they are aided by massive global disinformation campaigns conducted by Russia and China. Demonstrators are disrupting movement in our major cities and pushing hard for the Biden administration to pressure and deter Israel in its war against Hamas.

Such demonstrations seek to limit Israel’s effort to destroy Hamas and pacify Gaza. Lost in these demonstrations are the 1,200 Israelis butchered, burned alive, raped and beheaded by Hamas on Oct. 7. That’s equivalent to 39,000 bestially slaughtered Americans, while 240 hostages would be equivalent to some 8,000 Americans.

One can only imagine the size, scope and violence of the American response to such perpetrators. Think of America’s response to 9/11, when some 3,000 were murdered.

China’s vast and expanding purchases of Russian and Iranian oil and gas are the main reason those countries can afford to wage war. Its manufactured-product exports help sustain Russia and Iran’s domestic economies. It finances the axis’ shooting wars. It would be the prime beneficiary of a Russian or Iranian victory, which would weaken China’s greatest adversary and competitor, America, when it comes to Taiwan.

Sadly, starting with the Obama administration’s and now President Joe Biden’s policies towards Iran—allowing officially sanctioned Iranian oil to flow to China, freeing up previously withheld financial resources and making vast ransom payments for hostages—U.S. missteps have helped finance Iranian aggression. Iran’s mullahs and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are the brains, bank and arms depot for Iran’s octopus-like military and political proxy forces in the Middle East. Iran funds Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis, among others. To date, the Biden administration has taken no responsibility for the outcomes of its Iran policies and shows no propensity for at least re-engaging existing sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.

As a result of axis collaboration, thousands of Iranian-made drones, now being manufactured in Russia, are wreaking havoc in Ukraine. The axis’ junior partner North Korea’s missiles and artillery shells are being used by Russia to attack Ukrainian targets and kill Ukrainians.

Perhaps soon we’ll be seeing more sophisticated Iranian-produced ballistic missiles not only over Ukraine but Israel too. Iranian missiles, given to their Houthi proxy, are currently attacking shipping in the Red Sea and Israel as well. America’s response to date has been “proportional” and the Houthis continue their attacks undeterred. Now, with three dead American servicemen and 25 injured, will America finally respond forcefully to Iran?

Israel has been America’s permanent foothold in the Middle East for three-quarters of a century. Israelis are a well-armed, economically strong, America-loving people who hold similar values to our own and are capable of defending themselves without American boots on the ground. Israel is America’s best Forward Operating Base (FOB) in that part of the world. Having abandoned (a Biden administration legacy) major forward operating bases in Afghanistan, Israel is more important to America than ever.

Israel’s war is America’s war and, for the sake of America’s own security and its leadership of the free world, Israel must prevail decisively. This means the elimination of Hamas as a military and political force. The same is true for Ukraine. Russia cannot be allowed to prevail. Yet those outcomes are being vigorously opposed both by the progressive left and the isolationist right.

Make no mistake, Ukrainians fighting and dying in their struggle against Russian aggression means that Americans and other Europeans won’t have to. Supporting Ukraine is an amazingly effective investment. America’s defense dollars are serving as a powerful deterrent while America and NATO need not directly fight Russian designs to change the map of Europe. Russia’s support for Hamas is strong and not just via Iran, as demonstrated in a thorough Middle East Institute (MEI) analysis this past November. It should be sobering to all, as it provides further evidence of the axis alignment in a war against Israel and America.

We finance the Ukrainians’ defense of their homeland so that the homelands of crucial NATO allies are not threatened with attack; allies like Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, small nations that share borders with Russia. Poland has a 250-mile border with Russia’s satrapy Belarus, a country that served as the launch pad for the invasion of Ukraine. In the event of a Russian victory, far more American troops would have to be deployed to a potential European battle zone. Those Americans would become directly embroiled in a war with Russia if NATO’s Article 5 were to be activated.

If we are concerned about expenditures in Ukraine’s and Israel’s wars, we need to consider what we might have to spend should Russia achieve dominance in Europe and Iran establish hegemony over the Middle East.

Surrender to Russia in Ukraine would not only be a historic defeat on the European continent but also a major defeat in America’s larger war with the Russia-Iran-China axis. Likewise, the survival of Hamas would be a defeat not only for Israel—America’s ally in the Middle East—but for America itself as it would be seen as a major blow to U.S. leadership worldwide.

China is watching the outcomes in Ukraine and the Middle East closely as it ponders how best to take Taiwan. Iran benefits if axis partner Russia succeeds in Ukraine and vice versa if Iran succeeds in the Middle East. Again, it’s one war.

Historically, the axis has a strong communist connection via Russia and China, beginning with the KGB inventing Palestinian terrorism in the 1960s. Interestingly, Hamas has a “Politburo”—a creation of communist Russia. The axis is following Lenin’s advice: “You probe with bayonets. If you find mush, you push. If you find steel, you withdraw.”

It is time for America and Europe, not just Israel, to show their “steel.”

In the nuclear age, major powers avoid direct confrontation and fight their wars via proxies. These are real wars nonetheless and have consequential global outcomes similar to the full-on wars of the past. Currently, there has been no effective communication to the American people that there is a real ongoing war with the Russia-Iran-China axis, a war that will define Joe Biden’s and his successors’ legacies.

Now is the time for strong presidential leadership. That means Biden needs to lead, not just react. Whether he is up to the task is an open question. The good news is that with the right policies of peace through strength, we, together with our allies, have the enormous material and human resources necessary to prevail. All we require is the will to use them.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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