The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an undeniable, painful fact. Yet it is important to evaluate the factors that encouraged the Russians to make such a move. In that vein, I offer the following:
First, ineffective spending of our military budget. The United States has spent trillions of dollars for military expeditions, such as sending soldiers to Afghanistan and then Iraq in what we have called the Global War on Terror.
Despite the enormous spending, the Taliban once again controls Afghanistan, and ISIS is re-emerging, committing heinous atrocities once again, its murderous ideology still alive and spreading.
Had the United States spent its taxpayers’ dollars more effectively to defeat the ideology of radical Islam and violent jihad, perhaps trillions could have been better directed toward improving our military technology to a level that could have deterred the Russians from even contemplating their current Ukraine adventure.
Second, failure to conduct proper psychological operations during our withdrawal from Afghanistan. Yes, leaving Afghanistan was a wise and overdue step. But the way it was conducted was humiliating for our image as a world power and keeper of the peace.
The clumsy, chaotic, cowardly withdrawal allowed the Taliban to look victorious by occupying the presidential palace and gaining control over a huge cache of American weapons.
Had the United States destroyed those weapons and done effective messaging and counter-messaging, our image would not have appeared so weak internationally. Our weakness has played a role in encouraging our opponents to take advantage of the power vacuum we have created.
Third, we exhibit serious internal divisions. A divided house, as Abraham Lincoln warned, will ultimately collapse.
Sadly, we have given the world, including Russia, the impression that our government can be easily divided. This happened, for example, when one of the top U.S. military commanders said he would push back against an order from President Donald Trump for a nuclear strike if it were deemed illegal by the military.
Perhaps so. But it was unwise in the extreme to say such a thing in public.
Fourth, American social media exerts undue and probably unlawful authority over the president of the United States.
Irrespective of who occupies the executive office, he represents the will of most of the American people. Blocking the president, as social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have done, thereby impeding him from addressing the American people directly, has sent yet another message of weakness to our allies and adversaries alike — particularly when these companies continue to allow other world leaders hostile to America to continue to use their platforms.
It is not surprising that other sovereign countries will not accept such action aimed at their leaders. The fact that we do, however, diminishes our global dominance over social media and encourages other countries to take aggressive actions against us.
Russia has invaded Ukraine despite warnings from the Biden administration. China is currently eyeing an invasion of Taiwan. India is not taking a clear stand against Russia, and Saudi Arabia is considering using Chinese currency instead of the U.S. dollar.
Fifth, our continued economic dependence on China to manufacture many of the products we sell in the United States has limited our ability to take stronger actions to prevent China from supporting Russia in the Ukraine conflict.
Sixth, we have squandered our energy independence.
Had we maintained our independence from foreign oil as we had been doing under the Trump administration — indeed, had we been able to compete with Russia for the European oil and natural gas market, we would have been able to exert much more pressure on Vladimir Putin, thwarting his quest to reconstitute the extent of the Old Soviet Union — he wouldn’t have had the funds he needed to pursue his adventurism.
In short, the Russian invasion of Ukraine did not occur in a vacuum. It is fair to admit our mistakes that allowed this to happen so that we do not repeat them in the future.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid (aka Tarek Abdelhamid) M.D., Mlitt (Edu), has testified before Congress and before the European Parliament. Dr. Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad: How Radical Islam Works, Why It Should Terrify Us, How to Defeat It." Read Dr. Tawfik Hamid's Reports — More Here.
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