The New Year is supposed to bring a fresh start, resolutions, and new beginnings. In addition to the New Year, I turned 60 two weeks ago. Another opportunity to take a fresh look at the future and a new decade. As I read the newspapers and talk with my friends, unfortunately there is not a lot of new, fresh or beginnings in the air. I would say we are living in about as dangerous a time as I have ever witnessed. Putting aside the internal strife and divisiveness that our amazing country is in the midst of right now; at no time in recent history has our existential threats been higher nor our enemies more embolden.
Watching the alignment of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, as the new year unfolds, is terrifying. Watching as these four totalitarian dictatorships work together to create more weapons, more sophisticated weapons, that everyone knows, including themselves, will be used to murder innocent civilians, is horrifying. There is not one person inside or outside of these countries that doesn’t recognize who the terrorists, who the extremists are, and who is waging war. The leaders of these countries are gloating at how controlled American and European responses are to their forays. The leaders of these countries are testing their limits with the rest of the world each day.
History has clearly told us how this is going to end. At this point, it will take a monumental diplomatic effort to avoid all-out war. All these countries have their own belief as to why the rest of the world should be totally beholden to them and their ideals and have shown a willingness to kill their own population and wage terroristic-style war or open conflict with anyone and everyone who doesn’t see it their way.
And now, in 2023, they are all working together. What history teaches us is that we, as humans, do not have the capacity to learn from history. Once history gets too old, we forget its value. I sit on the board of the WWII Museum in New Orleans. As we have celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day and will be celebrating the 80th anniversary of the end of WWII, I fear our prospects of learning from those mistakes are dwindling.
I certainly do not know what the solution is, where compromise lays hidden, but I certainly hope our leadership is figuring this out right now. I applaud President Biden and the leadership of our country for continuing to do more for Ukraine, most recently offering to supply tanks. I am sure this will not be sufficient, and we will need to continue to increase our support in the short term and the long term. I do hope our leaders are spending as much time as it takes, as much resources as it takes, to determine compromises and solutions at each step of the way. As this war rages on, as our enemies’ collusion increases, as each one of them becomes willing to take more risks, America will become the focus of their hatred and we will bear the burden and responsibility of a solution.
This situation will become worse, most likely far worse, before it gets better. Numbers were just released that put the total deaths from this war at almost 300,000 (in less than one year). By reading the daily reports, most of these people were likely civilians (or were civilians a couple months ago). Just to add some perspective, total COVID-19 deaths over three years for Russia and Ukraine are estimated at 500,000.
These are frightening numbers and have all been caused by a mentally deranged dictator who decided to take over, wage war and then destroy a neighboring country, all for the sake of bringing back brotherly Ukrainians to mother Russia; and, if that does not make sense, you haven’t missed a thing. Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un and Ruhollah Khomeini do not rely on truth or fact to substantiate their leadership and absolute control, they utilize lies, fear and murder and know that democracies will be slow to act, they have learned this from history.
I want to end by stating that while I do believe America should be doing more for Ukraine, I do not want nor to relish the thought of entering into a hot war; nor do I want all Europe to fall into war, again. However, with history as my teacher, I am very concerned because the path is quite clear. Europeans and Americans will act out of a preponderance of caution, and our enemies are banking on it.
Michael Morris is the publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times.