And Yet Nothing Stirs
Ukraine’s victory over Russia should be embraced as a Reaganite triumph. Why isn’t it?
I grew up in the tail of The Cold War. Until I was ten, I knew what it was like to think that your life could literally end in a flash at any moment. The “why” came down to two ways of thinking that were in conflict. It was a conflict of minds.
To me, there’s a logic to US defense spending. By that I don’t mean a rationalization. The logic is that defense spending is designed to avert or mitigate disasters caused by man (wars) or by nature (like when the National Guard saves people from flooding). Since the stakes of the those potentials are only going up, it makes sense to spend more money to prevent or mitigate these possibilities. Obviously there’s mismanagement and grift, but leaving those aside, this is the basic idea.
The problem is always that you fight the last war you were in.
WW1 was the last war of Empires. Empires don’t require an ideology other than religion. WW2 was WW1+Ideology+Technology, so the tactics evolved. The Cold War was WW2+Technology+Instant Checkmate. When we think of conflict over Europe where Russia is at best a frenemy, these are our models. We prepared for these threats in their time, spending whatever it took to make sure we controlled the high ground so that we could have the upper hand in the definitional conflict we found ourselves unable to escape: a binary game of winner-take-nothing. Defense spending=peace.
Think of it. Trillions and trillions of dollars we spent on what is effectively instant-annihilation-insurance.
And now, for a tiny, tiny fraction of what we spend on ourselves, Ukraine has responded to what is totally a supercharged 1980s Rambo Wankfest Russian Invasion by reaching out with an Ashida Kim Dragon-Claw and ripping off Russia’s scrotum. (Note: literally in the sense of the numbers of dead Russian men in a society already in population collapse.)
How did Ukraine do this, you may ask? With the Arsenal of Democracy.
They’re doing it with hand-me-down American weapons some of which are older than I am. With the old beat up running shoes of the US military, Ukraine has humiliated the most feared army in Eastern Europe.