With fear and sorrow, we watch history tragically repeat itself. The 1938 plebiscite which annexed Austria to the Third Reich was echoed by a “referendum” in Crimea, tearing the peninsula from Ukraine and annexing it to a new Russian Empire. As was true of Stalin, who seized the Baltic states in the 1940s, Putin’s territorial ambitions, begun in Moldova and Georgia, will continue unabated.
Neville Chamberlain’s naiveté at Munich appeased Hitler in the vain hope of “peace in our time.” Betrayal of Central Europe by Roosevelt and Churchill at Yalta led to an Iron Curtain, a Berlin Wall and a Cold War. So many paid dearly in political repression, religious persecution, exile and execution!
Ancient Romans understood that “ si vis pacem, para bellum ” (if you want peace, prepare for war). Ronald Reagan won the Cold War by advocating “peace through strength.” Tolerating evil merely increases the ultimate cost that will eventually be paid in human suffering. We must not fail to stand against power-hungry, land-grabbing tyrants like Vladimir Putin, who believes that dissolution of the Soviet Union was the worst tragedy of the 20th century.
In the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, the United States and the United Kingdom guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine. (This insured that nation’s giving up its nuclear weapons.) Does our word mean anything? Will we keep our commitment to our NATO partners? If we do nothing in the face of a “Russian Anschluss, ” we will answer not only to history but also to God.
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