Russia is poised for exploiting another opportunity. Given that history tends to repeat itself, no one should be surprised by the uptick in tensions in Ukraine in the past couple of days and the recent events in Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions and perceptions of what may be coming do nothing more than hark back to the glory days of the Imperial Russian Tsars.

It was only a mere six years ago that Putin started down this path of aggression when he conquered Abk­hazia and South Osse­tia in Geor­gia and the world allowed him to do it with impunity. With the taste of vic­tory still in his mouth and with Rus­sia expe­ri­enc­ing a surge in nation­al­ism and eco­nomic growth, Putin, like any good chess player, struck where there was unop­posed oppor­tu­nity and where his oppo­nent was weak­est. On Feb­ru­ary 28, 2014, Russ­ian sol­diers, assisted by the local pro-Russian mili­tia, usurped Ukraine’s ter­ri­to­r­ial rights by occu­py­ing impor­tant sites across the Crimean Peninsula.

If this series of events seems famil­iar, it’s because it’s all been done before. Remem­ber Sad­dam Hus­sein in 1990 when he attempted to make Kuwait a province of Iraq? Remem­ber Adolf Hitler? The annex­a­tion of Sude­ten­land in 1938 was one of the impor­tant events that led to World War II. The cur­rent Administration’s weak Euro­pean poli­cies, lack of lead­er­ship in for­eign pol­icy along with the mas­sive down­siz­ing of our Armed Forces is caus­ing a lot of stress among our allies who are begin­ning to ques­tion our com­mit­ment to defend them.

Lack­ing the bold approach and ‘tooth’ needed to pro­tect and advance U.S. inter­ests, we are sur­ren­der­ing America’s reign as a pow­er­ful global leader. It’s hard to imag­ine that we’ll be able to defend our allies. Dev­as­tat­ing cuts will leave the U.S with its small­est Navy since World War I, its small­est Army since before World War II and its small­est Air Force, ever. While the U.S. and Europe have dras­ti­cally cut their defense spend­ing, Rus­sia has increased its defense spend­ing by about 30% since 2008. The West has done noth­ing more than pave the way towards the build­ing of a new ver­sion of the Soviet Union and is cur­rently in no posi­tion to bring Rus­sia to heel.

Lack­ing mil­i­tary strength, con­sis­tency in for­eign pol­icy and the deter­mi­na­tion to fol­low through, we are enabling a repeat of his­tory. With­out the U.S. and its Allies will­ing and able to firmly stand up to the bul­lies of the world, the ques­tion we all need to ask our­selves is – where will Putin stop?
Stew­art Hickey is the National Exec­u­tive Direc­tor for Amer­i­can Vet­er­ans – AMVETS

About AMVETS
A leader since 1944 in pre­serv­ing the free­doms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS pro­vides sup­port for vet­er­ans and the active mil­i­tary in procur­ing their earned enti­tle­ments, as well as com­mu­nity ser­vice and leg­isla­tive reform that enhances the qual­ity of life for this nation’s cit­i­zens and vet­er­ans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered vet­er­ans’ ser­vice orga­ni­za­tions in the United States, and includes mem­bers from each branch of the mil­i­tary, includ­ing the National Guard and Reserves. For more infor­ma­tion about AMVETS, visit www.amvets.org.

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Here is the AMVETS flag that Pa National Guardsman and AMVETS Post 293 Member Stephen LaPlaca had 1st LT Gumpf fly for the AMVETS in Afghanistan.

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