Please forgive my ignorance of everything that happens beyond the borders of the U.S. (and/or beyond the borders of Palm Beach County), but I’m hoping that readers who follow matters international, especially those who live in Europe, can explain the Russia-Ukraine-NATO-US situation to me.
Why now? What has changed to create this conflict? Why wouldn’t it have happened in 2018, for example?
The New York Times assured us that Vladimir Putin controlled Donald Trump. From 2019, for example, “Donald Trump: The Russia File” (a consensus piece from the entire Editorial Board):
Standing on the White House lawn on Monday morning, his own government shut down around him, the president of the United States was asked by reporters if he was working for Russia.
He said that he was not. “Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it’s a disgrace that you even asked that question, because it’s a whole big fat hoax,” President Trump said.
Yet the reporters were right to ask, given Mr. Trump’s bizarre pattern of behavior toward a Russian regime that the Republican Party quite recently regarded as America’s chief rival. Indeed, it’s unnerving that more people — particularly in the leadership of the Republican Party — aren’t alarmed by Mr. Trump’s secretive communications with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and reliance on his word over the conclusions of American intelligence agencies.
Given the direct control of U.S. politics that U.S. media asserted that Russia was exercising from 2016 through 2020, if Putin wanted to do something in Ukraine without American interference, wouldn’t it have made sense to do it while a Russian puppet (Donald Trump) was in charge in D.C.?
Russia annexed Crimea during the Obama administration (Wikipedia) and took a lot of heat for that. Unless we/NATO/Europe has done something recently to antagonize Russia, wouldn’t it have made sense for Russia to do whatever it is doing now back in 2014 so that it would have had to suffer only one round of sanctions?
Finally, given that the U.S. is packed with immigrants from both Ukraine and Russia, I wonder what the consequences for this dispute will be here. Our corner of Florida in particular is home to both Ukrainians and Russians (many had been living in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, but moved when lockdowns and school closures were imposed). Can expats from Ukraine and Russia get along? I remember when Crimea was annexed, a Massachusetts immigrant from Crimea was vocal in support of Putin and the annexation (her father was a Russian military officer).
This is a big story in U.S. media recently and yet I have no idea what Americans are supposed to know about the situation.
- New York state public and welfare health spending compared to Russia’s military budget: How much is $88 billion? Mexico spends about $1050 per person on health care. That includes health care for the rich, middle class, and poor. Mexico’s population is roughly 130 million so this works out to about $136 billion. In other words, with only 20 million people, New York spends close to as much on public health and welfare health insurance as Mexico does to care for its entire population, including cosmetic surgery for the richest people in Polanco. (How are the results in the Mexican system? Mexican life expectancy is about one year less than American life expectancy.) Comparisons between coronavirus and war are common. What if we wanted to have a military force with supersonic fighter jets, nuclear-powered submarines, an aircraft carrier, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, nearly 1 million active-duty troops, and 2 million reservists? Somewhere around $70 billion is what Russia spends. In other words, New York state spends more for public health and welfare health care than Russia spends to fund what might be the world’s most powerful military (let’s hope that we never find out who is actually the strongest!).