Recently my 15 year old son came home one afternoon from his blue-state high school, telling me about what he is learning in social studies. Apparently the domino theory of the spread of communism was all made up in America’s mind. It really didn't happen. That was news to me, and we can talk about my reaction another time, but suffice to say I replied, “Tell that to the North Koreans.”
Playing the long game was a favorite past time of totalitarian governments — bent on domination of the West. I believe the Kremlin is practicing this geopolitical art today, as Moscow expands outward from the boundaries imposed on Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Western Europe and the American press are now firmly focused on the events in Ukraine, as the Kremlin-supported pro-Russian separatists push out from the territorial agreements signed in Minsk, attempting to enshrine a larger and larger footprint in Novorossiya.
But Ukraine is not the real story. The real story is Putin’s desire for the return of the czarist Russian empire of the 1800s. Putin is no longer a communist.
Communism was simply a charade for the acquisition of power, domination, a form of totalitarianism. When I was studying Russian at the Air Force Academy in 1984, my Russian instructor told a story of seeing a black limousine full of communist officials fly by poor residents of Moscow. The man next to him on the street said, “He’s enjoying communism.” No, Putin is not a communist. He wants what all czars throughout history wanted — wealth and power. Czar is the Russian variant of the Latin word, Caesar, after all.
What did the czars take? Land, and lots of it. Most people don’t know the farthest reaches of the Russian empire stretched to San Francisco in North America. In fact, there is still a Russian fort in San Francisco called Fort Ross. It’s a protected site. Don’t believe me? Look it up.
How does a modern day czar take this land? One country or territory at a time. East Ukraine is just the latest domino in Putin’s effort. There has been South Ossetia in Georgia, Transnistria in Moldova, and of course the Crimean Peninsula, or Krim as the Russians call it. The ironic fact is that Russia sold Alaska to the United States in the early 1800s in order to fund the Crimean War.
The real boiling point for the West will be when Putin moves against the Baltic states, now part of NATO. If there is one thing that I am sure keeps the Russian president up at night, it is the fact that Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are now part of the Western alliance. Perhaps the forty percent of Estonians who are native Russian speakers need to be protected by little green men as well.
Then there is Hungary, which is making noise to come over to the East. Greece is making sounds about asking for Russian financial help. And yes, of course, there is Poland, the historical nemesis of Moscow. Poland would be a juicy prize. But one domino at a time please.
L. Todd Wood is a former USAF special operations helicopter pilot. He flew for the 20th Special Operations Squadron and supported SEAL Team 6 and Delta Force in counterterrorism missions. His first novel, “Currency," deals with the geopolitical consequences of overwhelming sovereign debt. Wood writes for The New York Post, Fox Business, The Moscow Times, Breitbart, National Review, and Zero Hedge. He splits his time between New York and Moscow. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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