As I write, the fate of Ukraine is unknown. Neighboring Russia, with whom they share northern and eastern borders, has assaulted her with heavy armor and nearly 100,000 troops advancing from three directions. What Russian dictator Vladimir Putin may have fancied as a quick strike leading to capitulation of the already divided Ukrainian people has turned into a slog. We can hope it turns into a long slog so messy and politically costly that Mr. Putin finds himself the most obvious sacrifice to the angry mob.
Meanwhile, nearly 4,000 miles away, the Chinese – who publicly support the forceful return of Ukraine back into its former status as part of the Soviet Republic – are licking their chops at the prospect of doing to the island of Taiwan what the Russians are trying to do to Ukraine. The Chinese, too, have only a tissue-thin historical claim on the vibrant island nation.
Taiwan sits 100-plus miles off the Chinese mainland across the Straights of Taiwan at the junction of the East and South China Seas. To her north are Japan and the Philippines to the south. It is a functioning democracy of 25 million people with the 24th ranked world economy (per capita GDP in Taiwan was $25,093 in 2019 vs. China’s per capita GDP of $10,212).
The Taiwanese have a modest but well-equipped military of 150,000, including an air force with over 400 combat aircraft, including nearly 100 US-made F-16 Vipers, short and long-range missiles, and a modern air defense system.
Instead of armor, an invasion of Taiwan would have to rely on the Chinese air force and its 1700 hundred combat aircraft and the navy’s 350 warships, with no assurance that a land invasion wouldn’t meet the same tenacious resistance the Russians are finding in Ukraine.
Yet the lust for conquest seems irresistible.
There appears to be a great deal of public and political confusion about what Russia’s Putin and China’s dictator, Xi Jinping, are doing – and their motivations for doing so. Some call them nationalists or authoritarians wanting to reestablish or establish “spheres of influence” to expand their empires. Others point to arcane religious explanations for Russia and repressed grievances of lost kingdoms for China.
Allow me to help. Both dictators are communists. They have always been, and they will always be, communists. They are hardened, dark, and ruthless men who serve the Prince of this world. It’s not an opinion â€“ it’s their own history, words, and most importantly, deeds.
A young Mr. Putin was already a colonel in the Soviet KGB intelligence services when the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its social contradictions and the economic poverty that always accompanies socialist dogma, or “science,” as they term it.
The communist paradigm rests on true believers. No one ascended to the ranks of power in the Soviet Union without intense and thorough schooling in ideology matters, especially at the KGB. The “program” subsumes every aspect of life â€“ its patterns, thoughts, and behavior.
After the implosion of the Soviet Union and the crushing looting and depression of the old Soviet economy during the Yeltsin decade of the 1990s, Mr. Putin carefully engineered and murdered his way to power as the FSB (the old KGB) director and then Premier and President.
Now, after twenty years of near-total power, he has plotted the resurrection of the former empire and consistently utilizes his training to increasingly silence or kill the opposition, control the oligarchs and the economy, crush freedom of speech and the press, and beguile or intimidate the west – which really isn’t hard to do. (Who can forget former President Bush explaining that he had “looked” Mr. Putin in the eye and saw his soul?)
Mr. Putin’s desire to retake Ukraine was no secret, nor were his intentions to use force, often under the guise of staging domestic conflicts (as in the 2008 invasion of Georgia). It is part of his design to reassert hegemony over the erstwhile buffer states between Russia and Western Europe. He said so often. In 2014 he acted on his threats and invaded and “annexed” the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, sitting across the Sea of Azov bordering Russia to the east, with the Black Sea to the south.
Former President Obama famously responded by sending Ukraine blankets instead of the requested arms. Former President Trump did provide limited military aid to Ukraine. In February 2018, he also authorized an engagement in Syria by US forces that killed “hundreds” of Russians in a one-sided air battle with a Russian-led force of Syrians. These two events seem to have given Mr. Putin pause in his plans for Ukraine while President Trump was in office, but not on his long-term promise to reincorporate Ukraine into Russia. (Meanwhile, US politicians of both parties continued to treat Ukraine as a personal ATM, including the Biden family.)
Like the tightly linked institutions and apparatus that still run Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, Mr. Putin was and is a committed communist at his core. He has talked frequently to large communist groups and in 2016 revealed to supporters that he had kept his original Communist Party membership card. And if Mr. Putin rules and acts like an old-line communist, then his public quote in 2016 would explain it; “I still really like the communist and socialist ideas.”
The Chinese dictator Xi has also made the incorporation of Taiwan into the “One China” a public objective. As recently as 2019, he demanded Taiwan reject formal independence and stated that “[China] make[s] no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means [to seize Taiwan].”
Like Mr. Putin, Mr. Xi was immersed in Marxist and Maoist doctrine when young. His father was a victim of Mao Zedong’s “cultural revolution,” and the family’s misfortunes afterward dramatically impacted â€“ and hardened – the young Xi. He was rejected numerous times for admission to the Communist Youth League but was finally accepted and subsequently admitted to the Communist Party (CCP) in 1974. He studied Marxist theory at Tsinghua University, graduating in 2002 with a doctorate in law and â€œideologicalâ€ education.
Since taking supreme power in the CCP, Mr. Xi has rooted out political opponents, seized control of Hong Kong, imprisoned thousands, and killed hundreds of Christians while warring against Christian “home churches.” He has put millions of predominantly Muslim Uyghurs into concentration camps under inhuman conditions, including forced labor and sterilizations, organ harvesting, and executions. His “credit system” promises to homogenize the masses into complete submission in every facet of life. And, lest we forget, he deliberately allowed the Wuhan COVID-19 virus to escape Chinese borders and infect the world.
The history of the twentieth century is clear enough. One hundred million people died at the hands of communists. From Russia, China, North Korea, Romania, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, to name a few. Killing is the pervasive first instinct of this cancer on humankind. The twenty-first century seems poised to see its share as well.
Communism kills because that’s what it does. From the so-called democratic socialist states to full-blown communism, Marxism considers lethal force, not as a right or a wrong, but a tool for the triumph of the cause. There is only the fight. It is central in the core of the Marxist theory, which contains no tolerance for discourse not dependent on its dialectics. It is carried out without the benefit of moral guardrails because, in every iteration, it is at war with God, and any concept of an eternal moral order. It is as strident in its atheism as it is celebratory in its cultural perversions.
Even in the so-called democratic socialist governments, the core mantras of the Marxist worldview work their way through public policy. It is in the philosophical DNA. Look no further than Australia, New Zealand, and Canada and how easily they slid into tyrannical overreach and brute force when the COVID crisis presented the opportunity. The US and Europe were only a step behind them.
The only difference between socialism and communism is time.
If the twentieth century provides lessons, it surely teaches that the unattended garden of human freedom and liberty is always at risk. The strength of the Judeo-Christian ethos that powered and watered the western concepts of liberty and human progress has been receding for over half a century. In this young century, the song of Death is in the wind.
The moral energy required to challenge the darkness is enormous. Yet, that is what this century will need – a revival of moral courage. That courage wonâ€™t be found in the halls of governments or the lofty rhetoric of politicians from either party, many made rich by these two godless regimes. Moral courage will come from average, faithful men and women around the kitchen tables who understand that God creates each human life. Who understand that if you strip right and wrong away – if you remove the guardrails of the Moral Order â€“ then evil will fill every space.