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Vladimir Putin, the lifelong president and dictator of Russia, is threatening to invade Ukraine. U.S. President Biden doesn’t like it and is telling the world. Secretary of State Blinken doesn’t like it and is telling the world. Vice President Kamala Harris doesn’t like it and is telling the world. White House press secretary Jen Psaki doesn’t like it and is telling the world. To quote former president Barak Obama, they are all making it clear that if Putin invades Ukraine, then he will be “on the wrong side of history.”

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As if there is a wrong side and right side of history. History, as Winston Churchill allegedly said, is written by the victors. It is a collection of facts, none of which are right or wrong. But more importantly… who cares? Certainly not dictators. Definitely not Vladimir Putin as he cherishes his position as the man who reunited the Soviet Union, under his control, in charge of the world’s supply of energy, relaxing in the lavish Kremlin, subjugating the expanding Russian people according to his desires, commanding the feared Russian military, and controlling Iran, Syria, and other terrorist regimes to threaten countries globally at arm’s length with plausible deniability. That will be the future resulting from Biden’s tried-and-false tactic of appeasement.

Merriam-Webster defines “negotiate” as “to confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter’ whereas it defines “appease” as “to make concessions to (someone, such as an aggressor or a critic) often at the sacrifice of principles.” Negotiations only succeed from a position of power. Both parties to a negotiation can have power, but both must see advantages to compromising and disadvantages to not compromising. What disadvantage does Russia have for not compromising? What can it suffer if it does not attack Ukraine? To date, the Biden administration has made a lot of noise (“speaking loudly”) but has actually taken military options off the table and refused to state a single actual consequence to Russia (“carrying no stick at all’). Teddy Roosevelt would be ashamed. Even if sending military forces into Ukraine would be a terrible decision, notifying Russia about the actions you will not take is right out of the negotiating playbook of Barak Obama who notoriously went into negotiations with Iran with his minimum offer and left with less, but portrayed it as a success. Yet Biden has learned nothing, for example, from Obama’s disastrous negotiations that gave Iran everything it wanted on its path to nuclear weapons and gained nothing that benefitted the U.S. but declared it a success nonetheless. Biden is even now trying to reinstate that worthless JCPOA agreement while giving more and more to Iran for nothing in return.

In an absence of any foresight or intelligence, upon coming into office, Biden immediately closed the Keystone Pipeline and approved Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, giving up the greatest bargaining chip he could have had in this negotiation. Instead, Europe, and indirectly the U.S., is now reliant on Russian oil. Upon invasion of Ukraine, Russia will also gain control of Ukraine natural gas pipeline, giving it further control over Europe’s critical energy sources. If Russia threatens to cut off energy to Europe, we may have no choice but to capitulate.

Where have we seen this strategy before? Where has this strategy actually ended up on “the wrong side of history.” Oh yes, in 1938 when another dictator simply wanted to reunite his people by taking over lands that had once been part of his country and that he declared had been forcefully separated. Adolph Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia under the same exact pretense. Exactly the same. And Biden is emulating Britain’s Neville Chamberlain, even proposing diplomatic meetings with Putin, as if Putin cared for any diplomatic resolution other than one that handed over Ukraine to Russia. Which I’m afraid is something Biden might do, if it meant getting “peace in our time.”

Why should we in the United States care about these faraway activities in Eastern Europe? Why don’t we mind our own business and get back to “important issues” like racial injustice and global climate change? Because Russia’s control of the worldwide energy supply will affect us. Because the eventual destruction of democracies and its inherent freedoms in Europe will eventually affect us. Because as decent human beings, we should not allow innocent people to fall victim to dictators when we have the ability to stop it.

These same questions were debated in the U.S. during World War II. These were theoretical concepts until, on December 7, 1941, Germany’s ally Japan attacked us, and we were dragged into the war whether we wanted to be in it or not. Then we did the right thing, at great sacrifice, but securing worldwide peace. This time, Russia’s ally is Iran, which will very soon have the capability to launch an attack that could make Pearl Harbor easily forgotten in a flash.

Sometimes you do what’s necessary out of a sense of righteousness. Sometimes you do it because there’s no choice left. Right now, we have a choice. We can threaten Russia with real consequences—not just economic sanctions, but diplomatic sanctions, cyber sanctions, and military force. We must do this now, out of a sense of righteousness, before it is too late to do it out of necessity.

About the author

Bob Zeidman is the creator of the field of software forensics and the founder of several successful high-tech Silicon Valley firms including Zeidman Consulting and Software Analysis and Forensic Engineering. His latest venture is Good Beat Poker, a new way to play and watch poker online. He is the author of textbooks on engineering and intellectual property as well as screenplays and novels. His latest novel is the political satire Animal Lab, a modern sequel to George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm.

Author: Bob Zeidman

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