It is Friday and it is early.
This morning the Wall Street Journal tells us that the 82nd Airborne — our bloused, boot-wearing boys based in Fayetteville, N.C. — is unloading large, heavy boxes in Poland. Actually, the 82nd is guarding the men who are unloading the C-130 military transports at a small regional airport. The airport — in Rzeszow — happens to be five miles from the Ukrainian border.
If I am reading about these activities in Port Royal, you can bet the huge-hatted Russians know about these C-130s and their cargo. You can bet these pale, overweight Russian generals have images of the light-weight, shoulder-fired, Strela anti-tank missiles that they once owned.
They can also see some of the 1,400 Stinger missiles; the 6,000 British-owned NLAW missiles; the 5,000 Swedish-made RBS-56 missiles; as well as the 4,600 American-made, Javelin anti-tank missiles.
And you can also bet these same men see the Patriot anti-aircraft batteries that surround and protect this little airport.
These same Russians did not believe the Ukrainians would stand and fight. And now they are humiliated. Now they know that these same anti-armor and anti-air missiles are the reason they are now stuck in the Ukrainian mud.
One has to believe there are heated discussions about sending dozens of their Kalibr and Iskander-class cruise missiles at the Rzeszow airport knowing that one or two will probably penetrate the iron umbrella provided by the Patriot batteries.
One wonders where these Russians are coming down on attacking Rzeszow. Do they meet by way of Zoom; or trust their cell phones. Or do they whisper in small, smoke-filled bars just off Dzerzhinsky Square.
But even those who have passing interest in the Ukraine War know that any strike on the Rzeszow Regional Airport will instantly trigger retaliation from NATO, the European Union and the United States itself. Any attempt to disrupt the constant stream of C-130s, or destroy the 82nd Airborne will pull the trigger on a monumental counter-attack.
Notwithstanding President Biden’s brinksmanship at Rzeszow the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page continues its own Katyusha-like barrage to discredit Biden and his efforts to deal with Russia. The WSJ writes, “Let’s cut through the diplospeak: if Mr Biden and the Europeans don’t get Ukraine right, Europe’s future is finished.”
“Putin is Hitler. He is attempting the extermination of a people with the obliteration of their cities. World War II wasn’t fought in Europe to prevent a future nuclear exchange between Russia and the US. It was fought because Europe was experiencing the indiscriminate murder of civilians under Nazi military doctrine, now revived by Mr. Putin and the Russian General Staff.”
“Just as the world needs Mr. Biden to step up, he somehow doesn’t appear to be committing himself or his office to anything equal to the scale of the Ukrainian disaster.”
All of this editorial blather characterizes Biden as a resurrected Neville Chamberlain — the well-fed, well-attired Prime Minister who allowed Adolph Hitler to gobble-up Sudetenland. The WSJ editorial writers join a chorus of sedentary, arthritic, scotch-drinking pseudo-diplomats who say Biden is a coward when it comes to Ukraine.
But those who know their history know that Neville Chamberlain’s Britain (in 1938) was in no position to stop Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. Neither did Britain have a treaty obligation to defend the Czechs.
Those who know their history know that World War I had destroyed several generations of young men in Britain (France and Italy) and left the survivors defeated in spirit and scarred for the rest of their destroyed, debilitated lives. Everyone in Europe — excepting Adolf Hitler and the Versailles-resenting Germans — believed that WWI was a crime and war should be avoided at all costs.
Importantly, neither Britain or France was able, in 1938, to defend Czechoslovakia. Both countries needed time, and Chamberlain, however meaningless the piece of paper he got from Hitler at Munich, bought time for Britain and France to re-arm.
It is easy to say that all the talk, travel and hastily arranged conferences are a waste of time. That Putin, like Hitler, is a metastasizing pathogen and we need to send our own sons and daughters into the fray in Ukraine. That we need to establish and maintain a “no fly” zone over Ukraine.
But Biden has put down his marker; drawn a line in the sand; and it is called Rzeszow.
Scott Graber is a lawyer, novelist, veteran columnist and longtime resident of Port Royal. He can be reached at email@example.com.