JERUSALEM—To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.
Readers of my novels and nonfiction books know this is one of my central themes.
The world was blindsided by World War II and the abject horrors of the Holocaust because it didn’t understand the evil nature of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime in Berlin.
The U.S. was blindsided by the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941 because Washington didn’t understand the evil nature of the Imperial Japanese regime in Tokyo.
The world was blindsided by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 because it didn’t understand the evil nature of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.
Likewise, the U.S. was blindsided by the 9/11 attacks in 2001 because it didn’t understand the evil nature of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terror network.
THE WORLD IS BEING BLINDSIDED AGAIN
Today, the world is being blindsided again because it doesn’t understand the evil nature of Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Leaders in Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and beyond seem completely baffled by Putin’s lust to attack, crush and re-occupy Ukraine.
The West should be:
• bringing Ukraine into NATO
• sending massive arms shipments to Kiev including Patriot missiles batteries
• offering full NATO air support to Ukrainian President Zelensky
• cutting off the Nordic 2 gas pipeline from Russia
• imposing crippling economic sanctions on Moscow
Instead, the West is issuing feckless press releases and wringing its hands.
WHERE ARE CHRISTIAN LEADERS IN THIS CRISIS?
If that weren’t bad enough, where are Christian leaders in this crisis?
Where is Pope Francis?
Where is the Roman Catholic Church?
Where are American Evangelical leaders?
Where are other Protestant leaders in Europe and around the world?
Why aren’t they denouncing Putin’s flagrant and evil aggression?
Why are they not calling on U.S. President Joe Biden and the rest of NATO to stop Putin now, before it’s too late?
Why are they not doing everything they possibly can to mobilize Christians to pray for – and stand – their brothers and sisters in Ukraine, a democratic country with a thriving Christian community?
Why are they so silent?
UNDERSTANDING THE STAKES
Do Western government officials truly not understand what is at stake here?
Are Christian leaders really so willfully ignorant of the threat Putin poses to both Jews and Christians?
If leaders take action immediately and demonstrate true grit and resolve – militarily, diplomatically, economically and prayerfully – they might yet dissuade Putin from invading Ukraine.
But if they remain in denial – if they let themselves be blindsided and simply surrender Ukraine to Moscow without a fight because they don’t understand who Putin really is – they will be unleashing catastrophic consequences far beyond Ukraine.
Don’t they understand what happens if you give a wolf a cookie?
WHAT DOES PUTIN WANT?
Christians, wake up!
World leaders, wake up!
Vladimir Putin is not a man we can do business with. He is a very dangerous man, as I explain in detail in my recent book, “Enemies and Allies.”
At his core, Putin is a mafia boss, obsessed with power and wealth, and willing to rob, kill or destroy to obtain both.
Using the Red Army, he already seized control of 20% of Georgia, all of Crimea, the eastern section of Ukraine and all of Syria. And murdered and imprisoned Russian dissidents. And co-opted Belarus. The list goes on and on.
At the same time, Putin sees himself following in the tradition of the Russian czars, believing he has a divine right to rule with an iron hand and is permitted to use any means necessary to rebuild the glory of Mother Russia.
What a chilling combination.
Once you understand all this, you’ll understand that Putin doesn’t simply want to retake Ukraine – he wants more.
Specifically, he wants to force the collapse of NATO, as well.
As senior officials in Estonia told me last week in Tallinn, a Putin in control of Ukraine will soon come after the Baltic states.
To bring Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania back under the Kremlin’s control.
And to prove that NATO does not have the will to enforce the mutual defense pact known as Article 5, thus ending NATO once and for all.
This was the premise of my 2018 political thriller, “The Kremlin Conspiracy.” But that was fiction. This is all too real.
And then what?
WILL PUTIN THREATEN ISRAEL?
Once Putin has seized Ukraine and the Baltics, will any small country be safe from his grasp?
No – Putin’s lust for power and wealth will be unstoppable at this point.
How long would it be until Putin’s allies in Tehran and Damascus ask him: Which side are you on, ours or Israel’s?
Why do let you Israel keep attacking Iranian positions in Syria?
Why do you let Israel keep threatening to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities?
You are the new Master of the Universe, why don’t you show Israel who’s boss?
Remember: Putin has sold the Iranians and Syrians billions of dollars in advanced military hardware.
Putin has sent military forces into Syria to save the Bashar Al-Assad regime.
Putin is building a huge naval base in Syria.
Putin has also provided continual political cover for Iran and Syria at the UN.
Yet Putin has simultaneously maintained a working and even friendly relationship with Israeli officials over the past 22 years in office.
How much longer do you think that will last if the West surrenders to him in Ukraine and the Baltics?
NATO NEEDS UKRAINE — HERE’S WHY
What’s especially troubling is that the West has vastly superior military power compared to Putin.
Yet they refuse to use it.
They keep dismantling it.
And they refuse to join forces with Ukraine, which is one of the few major military powers left in Europe.
Robert Zubrin makes a great set of points in a National Review column this morning, “NATO Needs Ukraine.”
Let me close with his words.
As a result of a series of decisions made during the Clinton, Bush, and, especially, Obama administrations, NATO has virtually disarmed itself.
At the end of the Cold War in 1989, the United States had some 500,000 troops stationed in Western Europe.
Now, we have 30,000, with practically no tanks. The British have removed virtually all their forces from the continent. Germany — which is showing itself increasingly unreliable in any case — has cut its army from twelve divisions down to four.
The cold fact of the matter is that the only serious NATO ground force east of the Rhine is the Polish Army, which has 180,000 active-duty servicemen. It’s not enough.
But then there is Ukraine, which has 450,000 active-duty servicemen, more than all NATO forces east of the Rhine combined.
If properly armed, and backed up by Anglo-American air and sea power, they could be formidable, and consequently, very valuable.
We need to be realistic. Nuclear deterrence is dead. During the Cold War, we were able to deter a Warsaw Pact invasion of West Germany by threatening nuclear war if they tried it. But no one believes that the United States would do anything like that today.
If Russia moves into the Baltic States or even Poland, the United States is not about the push the thermonuclear-war button, and Putin knows that.
Consequently, the only way to be able to deter war is to be strong enough to defeat a conventional attack by non-nuclear means. That requires an army.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.