I believe that a country’s history shapes how its citizens view themselves and view the world outside their borders. If you accept that as true I believe you can understand why the United States acts as it does in the world. The United States, until now, has faced one existential threat — the Civil War. I count it as existential because the union of the states was at risk and a victory by the Confederacy would have created a very different America.

The creation of the United States by defeating the British imperial power was followed by taking control, at times with force, of the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Oh yeah, we defeated Mexico in 1848 and claimed Mexico’s former lands as our own. My point is that at no time since the Civil War has America had to fend off a foreign military invasion. Protected by the oceans and weak neighbors to the south and north (i.e., Mexico and Canada), Americans never had the experience of foreign invaders wreaking havoc. Well, there was Pancho Villa, but he only launched some insignificant border raids and the United States declined to invade Mexico in retaliation.

With no enemies capable of invading America, we developed a sort of Messianic Complex. We went to Europe towards the end of the First World War to “save Europe.” That was followed by saving Europe from the Nazis (at least that’s the narrative taught in elementary and secondary schools). We never saw ourselves as imperial invaders. We simply were going “over there” to provide freedom. At least that is what we told ourselves. While many of the people of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and the Balkans would beg to differ, the American mindset in the aftermath of World War II is that our use of military force in foreign theaters had a noble purpose.

The American overseas military missionary adventures always required a villain. In Vietnam it was International Communism. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria it was international terrorism, with Iran regularly mentioned as the uber villain that needed to be stopped. Now we have a new, reconstituted villain — the Russians.

Russia, unlike the United States, has a long and bloody history of fending off invaders. That fact has conditioned the Russian people to be pretty prickly when they are confronted with a foreign threat. They dealt with Napoleon, the stumbled when attacked by the Ottoman Empire, the Brits and the French in the Crimea War, and defeated the Nazis. More recently, Russia beat back Islamic insurgents in Chechnya. This history makes Russia deadly serious when it believes it is threatened by foreign invaders.

Which brings me to the current war in Ukraine. The Western meme, fully embraced by the American public, is that Russia is a rapacious imperial power intent on destroying the freedom of the Ukrainian people. Russia, for its part, believes the West is intent on destroying the Russian Federation. Hell, it is not a belief, Western nations have spoken openly of eliminating Putin and breaking Russia into five separate countries.

Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine showed the world that a resurgent Russia means, of necessity, an imperialist Russia. And it revived discussions about whether Russia needs to be “decolonized,” or perhaps “defederalized,” to bury its imperialist ambitions and subdue its military threat. A breakup of today’s Russia, similar to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, is seen as a possible, for some even the most desirable, outcome of a failed Ukraine invasion. Regrets are voiced that the US didn’t make it a goal in the 1990s, when post-Soviet Russia lay in ruins and struggled to hold onto one, tiny secessionist region: Chechnya.

Yep. We got to end that “Russian Imperialism.” This coming from the United States and Europe who actually have engaged in imperial conquests and attempts at conquest. Odd thing. Modern day Russia has not seized or controlled a single country in Latin America, Africa, or Asia. That is the history of the United States and Europe.

As the United States and Europe scramble to send more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, Russian politicians are laying down a stark warning:

A “global tragedy” could be in store for humanity if the West keeps supplying weapons to Ukraine, Russia’s most senior lawmaker has warned. Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the State Duma, also suggested that Moscow could retaliate with more powerful arms, should its territory be threatened. . . .

On Sunday, Volodin took to Telegram to point out that should the weapons provided by the US and fellow NATO member states be used to “strike civilian cities and to attempt to seize our territories, as they threaten [to do],” Moscow would respond with “more powerful weapons.

The Russian lawmaker went on to argue that Western officials should be aware of their responsibility to avert such a scenario.

Taking into consideration the technological superiority of Russian weapons, foreign politicians making such decisions need to understand: this could end up being a global tragedy that would destroy their countries,” Volodin warned.

I fear that many of my fellow countrymen view this as empty hyperbole on the part of an insignificant Russian politician. Corporate and political America continues to promote the belief that we are doing the right thing trying to defend “democracy” in Ukraine. Yet, we ignore the prevalence of neo-Nazi ideology as embodied by the followers of Stepan Bandera, President Zelensky’s elimination of opposition political parties and media and the attacks on the Russian Eastern Orthodox clergy. We just pretend that has not happened and, even if it has, it is of no concern to Russia.

The stubborn refusal of the political and media class in the United States to even acknowledge the possibility that Russia has legitimate security concerns has set the table for a devastating escalation in the war between Russia and the West. Volodin’s warning should not be ignored. But it is falling on deaf ears in Washington. The failure of the Biden Administration and his political cheerleaders to comprehend that Russia is not going to behave as an abused spouse. The days of pummeling, or trying to pummel, anyone who will not submit to our demands is over. We are likely to witness some event or series of events in the coming weeks and months when America’s imperial impotence will be exposed and Russia will be standing defiant and intact. That is likely to inflict a psychological break in the American belief that we are invincible and protected. Americans will forced to come to grips with a new reality — we are no longer an insular, protected nation.

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