Editor’s Note: The Look Who’s Talking series explores the city’s most recent events and what locals think about them.
America and the world have watched Russia launch, and now continue, its February 24 attack on Ukraine.
The crisis unfolding on the world stage is the largest military conflict in Europe since World War II. Is there a way to make sense of what’s going on? Is Vladimir Putin crazy as a fox, or just crazy?
We asked residents of Clarksville to share their thoughts on the situation as it continues to unfold in Eastern Europe.
“I am always reminded that history will repeat itself. There are still Americans who remember the atrocities of Adolf Hitler during World War II. You must recognize that some men will be overtaken by greed and power. The strategists can say that we should or could have taken other measures to prevent this war in Ukraine. The big question is “what should we do now”?
“War and human suffering are horrors that wise civilizations should avoid. The best way to prevent a fight is to have and display strength. I would remind Vladimir Putin and his entourage that there are consequences to your actions. It is true that after World War II, the leaders of Nazi Germany were tried and convicted of war crimes for their despicable decisions and behavior. No society will ever tolerate the murder of innocent men, women and children.
“He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. A well-known Bible verse applies to this situation: ‘You reap what you sow.’ I believe the Bible is the truth from cover to cover. That being said, if you sow destruction, you will reap destruction. This war against Ukraine will never be forgotten.
“The former KGB colonel wants to bring Russia back to the heyday of the Soviet Union with its buffer of satellite states protecting its border. It’s a story thing. Ukraine is just one of many countries Putin intends to invade. Once conquered, he will put in place a leader of his choice who will answer to Russia and not to NATO.
“Why? Well, Russia has been invaded so many times throughout history that it is now essential for them to have a ground buffer. NATO is their current enemy and to see Ukraine continue its membership is intolerable for Russia!
“I am neither surprised nor horrified, but deeply saddened by the horrors of war… (Did I say Putin was a former KGB colonel?) He just had to wait for the time to come. Since the invasion, the US response has literally been a day late and a dollar short! And China looks, vis-à-vis Taiwan, and Iran vis-à-vis Israel, and North Korea vis-à-vis the South. All of the aforementioned despots have clearly stated their intention to “unify” these countries (with the exception of Iran which has declared that they will simply annihilate Israel).
“Like Putin, they are all biding their time waiting for the right conditions.”
“Our government, indeed all nations of the free world, had better watch out and stand up to those who are determined to conquer. Otherwise, our globe will look very different in just a few years.”
“If we really see the whole truth, there is a communist nation trying to recover a lost territory, which happens to be the 4th in the world for untapped natural resources. Personally, strategy seems to be much more important than tactics to What has been done in the past (or not done) to prevent this is irrelevant.
“Instead of lamenting mistakes, our government leaders must find a way to stop reacting and become proactive. If they don’t, Russia will continue to lead the strategic initiative and be the decider on the escalation. Very few (if any) actually know all the details needed to make a 100% fail-safe choice.
“Although we remain the number one nation on the planet, I never thought we should be the ‘police’ of the world. Even when I served in Afghanistan and Iraq, I felt like I was fighting for what is best for us and not for the host nation. The primary concern of the U.S. military should primarily be what is best for U.S. interests, and we elect our leaders with confidence that they will make decisions the same way (or at least I vote that way).
“I think Putin is doing what he thinks is necessary in the best interests of his country. We Westerners, being inherently altruistic in our worldview, of course do not agree with Russia. Unfortunately, we are so attached to our ideals that we have naively failed to recognize that Russia and China have a completely different set of values and play empire-building games at a level that we are too weak to match.
“The west has no balls. Our leaders look to China’s demands. I would even dare to say that our nation has lost its position as a superpower. It could be useful for us to learn more about the history Chinese, to understand how scary it is to have China in our place.
“China and Russia have natural geographical alliances. They also have similar cultural beliefs that do not value individual human lives. …And here we are instead, divided, so focused on in-fighting over the crumbs of some stale old American pie? Yeah we.
“My heart breaks for the people of Ukraine. But I worry more that not all countries realize that Putin is a crazy case, much like Hitler. We have to learn from history and not let this happen. prolong. In war, we try to be “good” and not hit hard enough, so we lose a lot of American soldiers. We have to fight like the opposition and end wars quickly.
“I’m afraid we haven’t learned anything from previous world wars, Vietnam or Afghanistan. I understand NATO, but everyone must realize that Putin is a power-seeking communist who will use any means to get it. Ukraine is only the first, and if it is not defeated, it will go further. War is hell, but it doesn’t have to last that long.
“I am a 33 year old retired army airman who has been physically on the ground and in the air in Ukraine. I can tell you that the people of this country are absolutely wonderful. I am curious to know where the friends I made during my travels are today. I guess they fled to neighboring countries for refuge, especially women and children.
“This is a multi-domain operation that requires the full preparation and skill of our service members. They have no idea what tomorrow will look like, the geometry of the battlefield and what will be the American involvement. The unknown makes the situation even more tense. This is a significant pressure on the families left behind here in the community. They are not able to communicate in typical ways due to the protocols of security of operations.
“Beyond political wrangling, it is easy to publicly criticize strategies. We need to be confident that our military leaders are making sound decisions based on the information they receive. Which, is always, always more detailed than what the general public gets. As veterans, we can do our part here in Clarksville by supporting our serving military and putting political differences aside. There is a separation between the government and the army.
“Our men and women in uniform face a very difficult military environment. As the days go by and with each advance of the Russian forces, the military comparative advantage changes. Specifically, the footprint of forces makes it increasingly difficult to correctly identify who is friend or foe. The language barrier is even more difficult, as the average American serviceman cannot tell the difference between the Russian and Ukrainian dialect, if a conflict in the country is necessary.
I just want to say that my hopes and prayers go out to the people of Ukraine and to our American military.
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