Local Veteran's Response: Column ignored key facts about US support for Ukraine
From the column: "(Its) description of the Russian invasion as a 'proxy war' and 'regional dispute' was as silly as ... Putin's description of the war as a 'special military operation'."
The Jan. 7 commentary in the News Tribune, written by members of Veterans for Peace Chapter 80, did a real disservice to the brave people of Ukraine and their heroic battle with Russia, the world's second-largest military power (Local Veterans' View: “In conflicts, foreign relations, first do no harm ”).
The column’s description of the Russian invasion as a "proxy war" and "regional dispute" was as silly as Russian President Vladimir Putin's description of the war as a "special military operation." Both totally distort the level of atrocities and war crimes being committed by Russian soldiers and the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets, including medical facilities, schools, power stations, and residential complexes. The civilian population has endured torture, execution, rape, and the abductions of children to Russia, to list just a few of the atrocities.
This "regional dispute" has included Russian assets such as the Wagner Group (recruited hardened criminals from prisons), Chechen soldiers, Al Qaeda terrorists from Syria, Afghan terrorists, Iranian drones, and artillery shells from North Korea.
The column suggested a diplomatic solution based on the failed Minsk II accords, which resulted in thousands of Ukrainian deaths, 30,000 people wounded, and 1.4 million people displaced.
The Veterans for Peace members selectively omitted a key factor in why the U.S., as they stated it, "chose to supply weapons, make military threats, and exacerbate the situation." One wonders why this veterans organization, which advocates for the elimination of nuclear weapons, would chastise the U.S. for fulfilling its treaty obligations in response to the removal of nuclear weapons.
The 1994 Budapest Memorandum — which was signed by the U.S., U.K., and Russia — provided security assurances for Ukraine, as it disposed of all of its nuclear devices. The Veterans for Peace provided information on the Minsk II agreement but not a whisper about Ukraine ridding itself of nukes with the accompanying security guarantee. Wonder why the Veterans for Peace omitted this key component of why the U.S. is aiding Ukraine's security per its treaty obligations, particularly since the organization is so committed to nuclear elimination. Of course, if Ukraine had held on to half a dozen nukes, Russia would have been hesitant to invade, given Ukraine's potential nuclear response.
Another statement in the column accused the U.S. of "aggressive, self-serving, militarized world ‘leadership’ (that has left) suffering, death, and destruction in its wake." Our military assistance to Ukraine is not provided because “there is money to be made and world hegemony to pursue,” as the column stated. We are attempting to provide Ukraine defensive weapons, not dominate Russia, as Putin asserts. Rather, we are providing assistance during this inhuman, barbaric invasion. If this is not a valid reason, what is?
The column concluded with, "The United States needs to … stop being the world's No. 1 weapons dealer." The U.S. has produced the world's most expensive fighter jet, the F-35. We are equipping our Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps with this advanced fighter. We have also sold this aircraft to dozens of allied nations, such as Canada, the U.K., Norway, Israel, Japan, and Poland, to name a few. The total number of F-35s sold to our allies exceeds 1,300, equating to $44 billion. Yes, we deal in weapons (some very expensive) to bolster the defenses and security of fellow freedom-loving countries.
Robert W. Thomson of Duluth retired as a major following a 23-year military career that began in the Marines as a an enlisted machine gunner and later included service in the Army National Guard; as platoon leader with the 1st Squadron, 94th Armored Cavalry; as company commander of armor units in Duluth and Virginia, Minnesota; and as executive officer of the 47th Division Material Management Center in Minneapolis. He is currently first vice president of the Head O' the Lakes Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.