The Ukraine War, September 19, 2023: Lessons from the Ukraine War–On Freedom

When I read about or see on TV Republicans like House Leader Kevin McCarthy question further military aid for Ukraine, which is not in the current Republican budget proposal (or its outline), I wonder to myself what has happened to tbe belief in Freedom.

This core value of the old Republican Party was deeply held by Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush, who oversaw the lead up to and collapse of the Iron Curtain and the spread of Liberty, of Freedom, to the subjugated peoples of Central and Eastern Europe, who had lived under the reign of Soviet-controlled totalitarian regimes since shortly after the end of World War II.

Can we grasp what it meant to the individuals in those countries to suddenly experience Freedom or its imminent promise?

Is it simply that the cult of Donald Trump has erased all Republican values such as the belief in truth, in the rules and procedures of democratic government, and in the very goal of Freedom itself?

Or is this apparent turning away from the value and goal of Freedom the product of other forces as well?

Do Reublicans today, and American voters in general, have any understanding of what is involved in living under a dictatorship where there in no Freedom?

Memories from Eastern Europe have faded, some 24 years after the Berlin Wall came down. World War II, Korean War and Vietnam war veterans have passed or are passing from the scene, and with them memories of their fallen comrades who died believing they were fighting for Freedom.

Their spouses and children who also lived through these wars and the terrible uncertainty of not knowing if their husbands or fathers would be coming home have also passed or are passing from the scene.

Memories of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile, or that of tbe military junta in Argentina which was responsible for killing or “disappearing” some 30,000 innocent people have disappeared from the American consciousness.

And today there are so many ductatorships, including Russia and China, that it has become hard to feel any sympathy for indivuals who live in countries where there is no Freedom. Our sympathies and sensibilities have become overwhelmed. Wev have become numb. And the response of many has been to simply tune out.

What does it mean not to be a victim of gross human rights abuses, as in Iran or Ukrainian territory under Russian occupation, but just simply to live in a country where there is no rule of law and no Freedom.

Americans, some 247 years after tbe American Revolution, simply take Freedom for granted. They can express political views and organize to effect political change. They can speak freely about any subject.

Freedom means that students can study and choose the kind of work they do. They can freely choose who they want to marry or live with and raise a family with.

The can travel freely anywhere they like, both in the U.S. and in the whole wide world.

Freedom of thought means they can espouse any idea, and freedom of religion means they may follow any creed.

One could write a book, as many have been written, on the many dimensions of personal liberty and Freedom, and what its absence has been like in many countries across the centuries.

We should meditate on the meaning of Freedom, and always remember what its absence has been like, in Nazi Germany, in the Soviet Union, in Russia, in China, and in the many dictatorships that have existed and exist throughout the world today.

Frankly, I can’t understand how leaders like Kevin McCarthy can care so little about Freedom. I can’t understand the thrust of his questions about and objections to providing Ukraine with the military and economic aid it desperately needs, to ensure that Freedom will prevail in that country.

Just as the Americans bore the torch of Freedom in the wars of the twentieth century, the Ukrainians are bearing that torch now, at immense personal sacrifice, not only for themselves but also for all of us.

Are we to believe that the Republican Party, in its current incarnation, doesn’t care about Freedom, that it doesn’t care enough to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s military aggression and barbarism in the conduct of the war?

In the end, are we going to abandon Ukraine like we abandoned Afghanistan?

Donald Trump has never criticized Vladimir Putin. If elected in 2024, he will surely lead us down the road of appeasement.

Where will that road of appeasement lead?

Will it lead to Freedom?

The Trenchant Observer

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