Schuck: U.S. must remain steadfast in repelling Russian hegemony

Photo submitted by Nelia Olmelchenko##Two people were killed and 16 injured when a building in Sumy, Ukraine, was hit in a Russian drone attack on June 3, 2023.
Photo submitted by Nelia Olmelchenko##Two people were killed and 16 injured when a building in Sumy, Ukraine, was hit in a Russian drone attack on June 3, 2023.

About the writer: Eric Schuck holds a Ph.D. in economics from Washington State University, a professorship in economics at Linfield University, a captaincy the Navy Reserve and the legacy of two active-duty military tours served in the Middle East. But he cautions us to understand the views expressed here are strictly his own, and should not be read otherwise.

The 1998 National Defense Authorization Act awarded “Cold War Recognition” certificates to uniformed and selected civilian personnel who supported the Department of Defense between 1945 and 1991. While trivial to some, these certificates are important mementos in my family, and with good reason.

For five decades across four generations, from me all the way back to my great-grandpa Ole, my family kept the watch, defending democracy and deterring the Soviet Union. We flew the Berlin Airlift, built atomic bombs in the New Mexico desert, quarantined Cuba and tracked missile submarines in the North Atlantic — and that’s just the stuff we can acknowledge.

All these years later, remembering the day the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 still holds the spark of a miracle. Watching the “hammer and sickle” finally come down from the Kremlin two years later, knowing the Warsaw Pact would soon be a historical footnote, felt like an unmatched triumph.

Our small efforts, combined with the energy and commitment of countless other Americans and their counterparts from our NATO allies, finally prevailed. From “Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic,” the Iron Curtain was no more.

While the struggle wasn’t as bloodless, costless or flawless as one could hope, it concluded in freedom and independence for millions of people and dozens of countries. That is a fact to cherish.

Fast forward 30 years, and the contemporary American political landscape should mystify any proper “Cold Warrior.”

A leading presidential candidate actively offers to sacrifice NATO. Mobs of politicians jockey to abandon Ukraine the fastest, willfully sacrificing to a despot’s ambitions one of the nations we liberated in 1991.

Media celebrities aggressively parrot revisionist history, claiming Poland, of all nations, started the Second World War. Political prisoners die in modern-day gulags enveloped in a deafening silence.

People should be forgiven for wondering whether they accidentally stepped through to the wrong side of history’s looking glass.

Some of us remember what the right side looks like, though. And that means both acknowledging and challenging the threat to peace from an increasingly totalitarian, revisionist Russia — a Russia committed to turning the clock back to pre-1991.

Granted, Putin’s Russia is not the USSR of old. It sports a graying petro-economy smaller than Italy’s, its continuing relevance largely dependent on the decaying nuclear arsenal it inherited from its Soviet predecessor. So the challenges we face today are not the same as those of 1948, 1956, 1962, 1968 or 1980.

But the fact that the threat we face today is smaller than that faced in previous generations does not mean it should go uncontested. Democracy must be defended and dictators must be checked.

We know how. Success in the Cold War came through patience and commitment, steadfast devotion to both staring down and tearing down the Berlin Wall.
The burden was not always equal, to be sure. But it was never borne alone.

Bolstered by NATO allies committed to shared democratic ideals, we kept the watch for as long as it took.

We should find such resolve today. I’d hate for members of my family to have to mail back their certificates.



It’s odd that many in the House and a few in the Senate parrot Kremlin propaganda. And they withhold funding to fight the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Are they being blackmailed because Russia has Kompromat on them? Their actions and words are decidedly at odds with American Interests. Would they prefer American boots on the ground when Putin invades a NATO country, or are they ok with Putin taking all of Europe? Will Americans ever know just what happened at the 2018 Summit in Helsinki?

Do people forget that Russia has most of their nuclear arsenal pointed directly at the USA?

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