It’s NATO’s Casablanca moment

OPINION – In the classic 1942 Hollywood film Casablanca, Ingrid Bergman, playing Ilsa Lund, said the famous phrase: “Play it, Sam.” A little less than a year later, the Casablanca Conference was held at the Anna Hotel in Casablanca. Leaders of many Allied powers attended, including US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The purpose of the conference was to discuss Allied military strategy, but it is best remembered for the declaration of “unconditional surrender” – a doctrine that reflected the unity, will, confidence and determination of the Allies. There was no certainty in the war that the Allies would win. The Battle of Stalingrad raged, there were battles 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, however, was a bold meeting with a statement that reflected these leaders’ understanding that the world was at a historic turning point and that a clear message had to be sent to the Axis powers.

We are at a similar turning point in history, but the world is not yet at war.

On March 24, NATO leaders will meet in Brussels to negotiate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden is then due to attend a European Union summit to discuss further sanctions against Russia and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. This is commendable, but misses the opportunity to send the same strong message that was sent in Casablanca in 1943.

Putin launched a war of conquest against a smaller neutral neighbor. The footage of this invasion horrified the civilized world, as did the refugee and displaced persons crisis. Nearly three million Ukrainians have fled the country, and perhaps more have become internally displaced persons.

Putin’s lackey, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, often described as Europe’s last dictator, allowed Belarus to be used as a platform from which Putin launched the invasion, and Belarus continues to be the main base of support for the invasion forces.

The war is not going well.

Many observers believe that a virtual stalemate has developed, with Putin no longer having the military to conquer Ukraine or achieve his pre-war goals. Conservative estimates of Russian casualties suggest that the numbers are higher than US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan combined and Soviet casualties over the 10 years of their invasion of Afghanistan. The Ukrainians fought skillfully and decisively, but the harsh mathematics of war was against them.

There will be no settlement of this conflict through negotiations. Negotiation is the favorite solution in the West, but the reality of Putin’s evil forbids a negotiated solution, short of Putin’s unconditional surrender. Several attempts to negotiate a limited ceasefire allowing for the evacuation of civilians from cities have failed. Recent polls in Ukraine show incredible determination that they support their President and Commander-in-Chief (91%), that they believe they can defeat the Russians (70%), and that they do not support the cession of either the separatist regions of Donbass or Crimea. to Russia (79%).

It is likely that the West will continue to supply Ukraine with effective anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, which will certainly deter any future Russian attempts to increase its territorial gains. The effectiveness of these weapons and the skill of the Ukrainian defenders forced the Russians to halt their advance on Kyiv and return to digging earthworks to protect their armored forces.

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So where does the military stalemate leave us? Judging by the fact that Putin is still convinced of Russia’s victory and his assessment of the West’s helplessness, the answer to the question may be the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially chemical weapons, which Putin approved for use as a surrogate in Syria. Bashir al-Assad.

Chemical weapons are especially useful in urban combat environments like those currently facing Russian troops in several Ukrainian cities. As President Zelensky of Ukraine said, if you want to know what the Russians are up to, look at what they accuse others of.

The Russians accuse the US and Ukraine of developing and preparing for the use of chemical and biological weapons. Given the accuracy of U.S. intelligence both before and during this almost month-long conflict, it may be significant that a growing number of U.S. officials believed to have access to this intelligence are warning of Russian plans to use chemical weapons. . This should be a flashing red alert to the world about the risk of this conflict escalating.

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 and many other representatives of the international community immediately come to mind.

It is necessary to immediately declare a “no-fly zone” and a shelter in western Ukraine. As well as a 21st century declaration of unconditional surrender. Vladimir Putin and the cabal of Russian leaders who started this war are war criminals and must be held accountable. Anything less is evasion and appeasement.

Thursday’s NATO meeting should be an opportunity to set the mark for the Casablanca conference that sends a signal to Putin and all those like him hiding under their stones around the world. They should be told that the free world will no longer ignore, rationalize or appease them. Whether it be North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, or even China, the West’s message to Putin will be heard by the leaders of those countries.

An awakened and determined free world is a powerful force, as Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito realized in the 20th century. Putin has been tirelessly restoring Stalinism in Russia for more than twenty years. Let’s give him the opportunity for the second time in his life to witness the collapse of this system. The West needs a Casablanca moment and an expression of determination, will and confidence. Play it again, Uncle Sam.

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