IDEA – In the 1942 Hollywood classic Casablanca, Ingrid Bergman, playing Ilsa Lund, said, “Play, Sam.” A year later, the Casablanca Conference was held at the Anfa hotel in Casablanca. In attendance were leaders of many Allied powers including US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
The purpose of the conference was to discuss the allied war strategy, but it is most famously remembered for its declaration of “unconditional surrender”, a doctrine that reflected unity, will, confidence and determination of the Allies. The war was far from certain that the Allies would win. The Battle of Stalingrad was as fierce as the battle in the Pacific Ocean. The Battle of the Atlantic was far from over, and much of Europe was still occupied by Nazi Germany.
The Casablanca conference was nonetheless a daring meeting with a statement that reflected the leaders’ understanding that the world was at a historic inflection point and a clear message that needed to be sent to the great powers of the world. Axis faction.
We’re at a similar inflection point in history, but there hasn’t been a world at war.
On March 24, the leaders of NATO member states will meet in Brussels to negotiate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden is then expected to attend a European Union summit to further discuss sanctions against Russia and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. This is commendable, but it misses the opportunity to deliver a message as decisive as the one sent at Casablanca in 1943.
Putin launched a war of conquest against a smaller neutral neighbour. Images from that invasion have terrorized the civilized world as well as the refugee and displacement crisis. Nearly three million Ukrainians have left the country and perhaps a larger number have been internally displaced.
Putin’s henchman, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko – often regarded as Europe’s last dictator – allowed Belarus to be used as the platform from which Putin launched his invasion and Belarus to continue as a base. main support for the invading forces.
The fight did not go well.
Many observers believe that an effective stalemate has been reached when Putin no longer has the military forces to carry out his conquest of Ukraine or achieve his pre-war goals. Conservative estimates of Russian casualties suggest larger numbers than the US losses in Iraq and Afghanistan combined and the Soviet losses over the 10-year invasion of Afghanistan. The Ukrainians fought with skill and determination, but the grim math of war was against them.
There will be no negotiated solution to this conflict. Negotiation is the favored solution in the West, but Putin’s ugly reality suggests a negotiated solution without Putin’s unconditional surrender. So far, several attempts to negotiate a limited ceasefire, to allow the evacuation of civilians from cities, have failed. Recent polls in Ukraine show amazing determination that they support the President and their Commander-in-Chief (91%), that they believe they can beat the Russians (70%), and that they do not. support the concession of the separatist Donbas regions or Crimea. to Russia (79%).
It is likely that the West will continue to supply Ukraine with effective anti-armor and anti-aircraft systems, which will certainly deter any future Russian efforts to advance its territorial interests. The effectiveness of these weapons and the skill of the Ukrainian defenders forced the Russian advance on Kyiv to halt and return to digging to protect their armored forces.
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So where does the military standoff leave us? Given the belief that Putin still seems to have won Russia’s victory and his assessment of Western stubbornness, the answer to the question may be the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially weapons of mass destruction. chemical gas, which Putin authorized to use by his agent in Syria, Bashir Al-Assad.
Chemical weapons are particularly useful in urban combat environments like those facing Russian forces in several cities across Ukraine. As Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said, if you want to know what the Russians are up to, look at what they are accusing others of doing.
The Russians are accusing the US and Ukraine of developing and preparing to use chemical and biological weapons. Given the accuracy of American intelligence both before and during this nearly month-long conflict, it may be significant that an increasing number of US officials – who are believed to have access to this intelligence – are warning about Russia’s plans to use chemical weapons. This should be a flashing red light to the world about the danger of escalation of this conflict.
The use of any form of WMD in Ukraine should be the basis for the intervention of a broad international coalition; NATO, Japan, Australia, New Zealand immediately come to mind and more from across the international community.
The “no-fly zone” and safe haven in western Ukraine should be declared immediately. As well as a declaration of unconditional surrender of the 21st century. Vladimir Putin and the army of Russian leaders who waged this war are war criminals and need to be brought to justice. Anything less is evasion and appeasement.
Thursday’s NATO meeting will be an opportunity to set off a marker The Casablanca Conference sends a message to Putin and all of his enemies hiding under their rocks around the world. They should be informed that the free world will no longer ignore, rationalize or appease them. Be it North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela or even China, the message the West sends to Putin will be heard by the leaders of those countries.
A free world awakened and determined is a force as powerful as Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito learned in the 20th century. Putin has been relentlessly rebuilding Stalinism in Russia over the past twenty years. Let us give him a chance to witness the collapse of that system for the second time in his life. The West needed a Casablanca a moment and expression of determination, will and confidence. Play it again, Uncle Sam.
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