Ukrainians deserve our help, support, gratitude

January 27, 2023

Dr. James Armstead

Opinion by Dr. James Armstead

When one considers the various elements of strategy, oft times the political and diplomatic aspects of war are wrongly relegated to a lesser position. This is brighter wise or correct and can only lead to a postponement of victory or perhaps worse, a peace without a adequate resolution.

In various conflicts over the years, I’ve often heard when proposing a non kinetic strike to my uniformed colleagues, “oh yes, but we don’t have time for that now, we’re fighting a war” or “if we could just get the politicians out of the way, we could win this thing.”

I would argue that such attitude is somewhat nearsighted as war by its very nature is the most intense of political acts and focuses the energy, human resources and treasure of state acts towards a desired political end. It is, simply stated, the physical demonstration of a willingness to place all aspects of state power, including the most precious resources, the very lives of its citizens, as well as the physical, fiscal and other resources of the state into a physical contest to exercise its political will to determine the outcome of events.

The ultimate goal of such a contest is actually a cessation of the hostilities with a resulting political equilibrium based in part on some agreement to a status of dominance, superiority or parity. We fight for a purpose oriented peace or at least a useful ceasefire. Now, this leaves the successful strategist with one of his/her most powerful tools of the trade; the ability to offer an adversary some acceptable alternative to continuing the conflict.

Now as to the focus of conflict, or perhaps more aptly as to the political priorities of combat it is nowhere better stated to my mind than by General Fox Conor (General Pershing’s AEF operations chief) ” … never fight for long, never fight alone and never fight unless you have to!”

Here we can see the subtitles of first rate strategic thinking; preserve the resource, focus the combat power to its best effect, use the maximum force(s) available effect a desired resolution with all the resource(s) that can be gathered and made available at the moment of decision.

Sun Tzu tells us wars are won and lost before the first battle and victory is only possible if we know the enemy and ourselves. In this conflict which is now admittedly – and has always been – between Russia and West we must understand exactly what Putin really wants; a 21 Century restoration of Russian hegemony in eastern Europe which includes a land buffer region separating NATO from the Russian border, and Russian aggrandizement in Ukraine and the contiguous Baltic States and Belarus with near term reintegration into a Russian “super power” imperial state.

What we do not know with great precision is exactly how far he is willing to go to achieve his imperialist aims. He is using the international forums including the UN, the oil and gas markets to fund his current efforts and presumably (re)build Russian infrastructure and the economy generally.

The battle space is enormous and includes a vital economic element. We have begun to address it with sanctions but we are not treating Russia as if we are at war. President Biden has had to invigorate NATO and to weaponize the alliance posture and response against our adversary which has struck at Ukraine.

Make no mistake, Putin sees Ukraine as the proxy of a western incursion into the former Soviet political space to which he now has formally laid claim. This is the last battle of the cold war, the sides have been rearranged but the fundamental systemic and moral conflict remains; a large totalitarian and imperialist oligarchy, in actuality a kleptocracy ( now sans its ideological aegis) seeks an immediate irredentist reversion with brutal military force to regain hegemony and aggrandizement over its adjacent neighbors without regard to well established international law and norms dating from the 1649 Peace of Westphalia in addition to three more recent sets of international guarantees (1991, 1994, 1997) to which Russia is a signatory party expressly guaranteeing Ukrainian territorial integrity.

This struggle is at the base of the North Atlantic Alliance, resistance to tyranny and defense of freedom in Europe and the Alliance countries. The chorus of surprise and bewilderment falls without much impression to my ears.

This struggle has been on going for over 70 years with some modification. The struggle has morphed to our distinct advantage over the years and is actually what a young captain working in the bowels of the Pentagon in the early 1970s would have asked for if we were asked to defend our ideals, our freedoms and eventually our allies.

In the early 1970s, we could have only hoped for the world of today. The noted strategist, Dr. Albert Wholstetter always expressed a desire that the majority of eastern Europeans readily defend democracy, a free market economy and eliminating earlier dependency upon a intrusive and oppressive Soviet system could be the asset that tipped the strategic balance.

Now, in an ironic turn of fate, it is they defending western values, holding the front lines and driving back Russian tank armies invading from the east. Our mission now must be clear, focused and direct. It is our task to invigorate and reinforce and develop a political cohesion focused on a doctrine of collective security amongst alliance members and the international community, express our alarm that the rule of law is threatened and the rule based international order that has protected large and small nation alike for nearly 80 years is showing its age.

The balance of power so precariously enforced by MAD and a mutual respect and adherence to a notion of a no first use doctrine has made the possession of nuclear weapons almost sane.

Political action, and our international institutions must be modernized or perhaps better yet, brought to a postmodern modern modality if they are to enures to our immediate benefit.

In his recent UN address, President Biden alluded to the possibility of significant changes to the UN including an enlargement of the Security Council. I’d go a step further given the present situation, the UN Security Council should indeed be enlarged to reflect a more modern post colonial world and present economic reality, India, Egypt, Germany, Nigeria and Brazil should be immediately considered as permanent members with new interpretations on any veto powers, probably two or even three objections to naysay or obstruct a council action.

As Russia is a recognized successor state to the Soviet Union and has acted irretrievably antithetical to the goals, rules and values of the UN, action should be considered by the General Assembly to modify the charter and remove Russia now from Security Council. It has irrevocably demonstrated its unworthiness even for membership and its hostility to the rule of law Is irreconcilable with the values of he organization.

Recently, Ambassador Fiona Hill publicly stated a need for all nuclear nations to condemn Russia’s threats of nuclear use; China, India, Pakistan, the US, the UK and France must all immediately condemn such threats and do so in unison representing the will of the international community. Russia has voluntarily made itself a pariah state and must be made to feel such until her conduct come into line with international norms and is modified to acceptable levels. Russia’s own statements make it clear she see herself at war with the “west!”

While we labor to limit the physical conflict and seek to avoid escalating great power conflict we can not and must not give up the diplomatic, political and economic spheres of our complex and multipolar world. This is a fight to the end; just ask the Ukrainians.

Our actions must be considered carefully, our choices made wisely but we must act with resolve and use our great power to best effect. The old curse, “May you live in interesting times,” is again our lot.

We have been blessed to have our brave Ukrainian brothers and sisters at the forefront on the battlefield and in the fight. They need and deserve our help, support and gratitude. This is our fight to win or loose. We are not only the great arsenal of democracy, but we are the leaders of the free world we must engage on every front with our energy, moral courage and our great responsibility in mind. We are in transition and our values are being tested.

We are great as long as we are good. We are only good if we live up to our values.

Dr. J. Holmes Armstead is a retired professor of Strategy and International law from the US Naval War College. He has taught international law, strategy and national security policy for over 40 years.  

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My personal opinion is that we, The United States of America, has such a debt load that it will take a war time budget / economy to reset the financial mess we are in. Let’s put it this way, “the chain letter has ended” and those holding the bag of wealth are scrambling to protect their worth while we get harvested of our dismal wealth during this smoke and mirrors reset. This is what we old people remember while the young think this something new. We will fight, witness death and justify what is going on. When they say, “all you need to do is follow the money”, try following 31 plus trillion dollars, another reason to dump the fake Federal Reserve Bank.

Just curious, why do Ukrainians deserve our help, support and gratitude? Did they do something for us in the past that we should be eternally grateful for? Is there a specific reason we should put our children farther in debt in order to buy more weapons for the Ukrainian war?

Because Putin is a murderous monster intent on killing innocent Ukranians for his own selfish reasons. Paying a few dollars per taxpayer to save the lives of thousands of people is certainly worth it in my mind.

What is the exact price of a Human Life? I don’t hear anyone complaining about the 15 Million California spend on giving away Free E-Bikes last year? This year they are going for 50 Million! so that’s an acceptable way to Spend our $, but saving lives is just too much?

I don’t hear of Ukraine crossing the border bombing innocent people. They are just trying to protect their own. And for that reason I support it.

Without commenting on the discussion here…I just have to say……

Finally get the see the face behind the Brilliance! I listen to the Dr. on Dave’s show, and always ears open to hear him. Thank you Dr. Armstead, I appreciate your knowledge and perspective!!

Our Ukrainian brothers and sisters are fighting against a selfish, murderous dictator, who has no qualms about killing women and children and has killed thousands upon thousands of innocent people. If Americans need to sacrifice a few dollars to save our brothers and sisters and restore peace, we should certainly do that.

The first casualty of war is the truth… in this case the truth died before the war began… how many more years of funding a war are we suppose to accept?… we just removed ourselves from a 20 year war embarrassingly so less than a year ago… It is interesting though that for the most part liberals have turned pro war and conservatives turned anti war… who would have ever thunk that….

This is not true. There are a lot of conservatives supporting Ukraine. For example H.R. 7691 Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022. Measure Title: A bill making emergency supplemental appropriations for assistance for the situation in Ukraine for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022, and for other purposes.

Senate Vote Counts: YEAs 86; NAYs 11; Not Voting 3

House Vote Counts: Yeas and Nays: 368 – 57

You confuse pro-democracy with pro-war. Wars result when politics fail. Spending 5% of our military budget to gut Russian military capabilities is a good investment. Conservatives used to be better at math too.

I don’t find it impossible to be pro freedom without putting our great grandchildren in even deeper debt….

Do we always have to be the one to put our foot the farthest out?….

In 2021 the top 1% in USA held $45.9 trillion in wealth. During the pandemic they gained $12 Trillion in wealth.

If your concern is about future generations we could avoid having to raise the debt ceiling simply by repealing the $2.3 trillion Trump tax cut. That would a good starting point.

I find it a disgrace that the average retired American is the one who is always being asked to give up their financial security and healthcare in their old age for the next generation of unborn children, yet those with that hold all the wealth now are not being asked in the least to do the same.

You want to discuss living within our means, and everyone paying their fair share, then put it all on the table and not just the programs we’ve paid into for generations.

I am very middle class, and I enjoyed the Trump tax cut. It did not just benefit the rich.

The deficit and debt aren’t being driven by aid to Ukraine. It’s a drop of water in the ocean and preposterous to think it’s worth cutting. The only way to seriously stabilize the debt is reductions in Social Security, Medicare, Defense, Veterans affairs, AND tax increases for all classes. No one likes this reality, so it’s not happening.

Unfortunately, correct, we all have to sacrifice.

The age for social security retirement benefits needs to be gradually raised. We are kidding ourselves and kicking the can down the road.

The right has become the left and the left has become the right.

Can’t wait to see all the negative votes from the “Conservatives”. A pretzel and a circle are both an unending loop. Only one requires twists, turns, and contortions to get back to where they started.


With all this talk about the supposed strain in relations [with the Soviet Union], there is an inference that somehow it is our fault. But we didn’t kill Russian civilians by shooting down a civilian airplane. We didn’t attempt to conquer an adjacent country to ours. We didn’t walk out on negotiations and refuse to give a date for when we would resume.

Ronald Reagan

But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind – too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

Ronald Reagan

It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history . . . . [It is] the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history, as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.

Ronald Reagan

It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of human history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens.

Ronald Reagan

The U.S. has invaded an adjacent country recently, but we regularly invade countries on the other side of the planet. Maybe you don’t remember the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan? How about our tacit destabilizations of Syria and Libya?