PART 2: Victor Davis Hanson on Russia-Ukraine ‘New World Order,’ Biolabs, and Other War Messaging—Is This a WWIII Moment?
Previously, in part one of my interview with classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hanson, we discussed Vladimir Putin’s goals, Beijing’s position on the war, and why the left and corporate media seem to all be advancing identical narratives.
In part two, we dig deeper into what’s really going on with the Russia-Ukraine War—from talk of biolabs to ultra-right-wing battalions to President Joe Biden describing a “new world order.”
And while everyone is talking about a no-fly zone, many haven’t noticed that Turkey, a NATO member, has imposed what’s essentially a “no float zone,” blocking Russian warship access to the Black Sea.
Is this a World War III moment?
If you missed part one, you can watch it here.
Jan Jekielek: So there isn’t a no-fly zone, but Turkey has a no-float zone, blocking the Turkish straits from Russian warships, for example. Now, what do you make of that? Couldn’t that be considered an act of war by the Russians?
Victor Davis Hanson, PhD: Turkey is a very strange country in that regard. There are 30 members in NATO. Turkey is the largest by population, 85 million, and it’s the largest in terms of manpower.
Mr. Hanson: It is also more anti-American than Germany. That’s saying a lot. So if you poll the Turkish citizenry, “Do you have a favorable view of America?” About 65 percent say no.
Erdogan has been very anti-Israeli and anti-American, and he said some crazy things about old American nukes and bases outside of Izmir, that maybe these are quasi-Turkey’s. “They’ve been there so long, they’re our nukes.” And we’re even afraid to take them out in broad daylight.
I think there had been a program, one or two a month, to get them out of there. So we have a very checkered history. But when you go to Istanbul and you see the Bosporus, it’s right there.
What he’s saying to us is, “First of all, we act independently. So we’ve decided to give very effective drones to Ukraine, more than you guys did. We were there before you, and they’re very effective, and we can govern who can go into the Black Sea. Maybe, for a while, Russia can’t go. So in terms of what we’re actually doing for NATO, we’re doing more than you are, but don’t tell us that we have to cut off the Russians or that we can’t.”
Then they’re going in, telling the Russians, “Let’s negotiate access into the Black Sea. Let’s negotiate how many drones we give per month. Maybe we should give a few less to help you guys out.” So that’s what they’re doing.
It’s like what Germany was doing before the war started, Germany was saying to us, “We love NATO. Thank you so much. But our polls show that about 55 per cent of Germans would rather have closer relations with Putin, than with Biden or Trump or Obama. We also would like to have half of our energy needs met with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. That’s why we told Joe Biden you better not sanction that.”
And Joe said, “Okay, I’m sorry. We won’t.”
They like Putin. They like the commerce and they like not paying the 2 percent. What we forget about not paying the 2 percent military obligation in NATO is that Germany just didn’t fail to do that, they went around to other countries and said, “We’re not going to pay, we don’t want you either to do it.” So it undermined NATO. It really did. So again, be careful what you wish for, Today, Biden is at NATO, and they are yucking it up about how wonderful it is.
But you remember those conversations with Trudeau and Boris Johnson. They made fun of Trump at the NATO summit, and they kept him out of the limelight. They had, I think, the miner in Montenegro, or somebody was there in the limelight and he had to push everybody out. “I’m the United States. I pay a third of the budget. I should be out in the picture.”
So they wouldn’t even let him be in the forefront of the group picture. Yet, he was the one that forced them to spend a $100 million on their budget. He upped our military budget and he did more for NATO than Obama and Biden combined, yet they hated him. They loved Biden and they loved Obama. Both of them had been very deleterious to NATO. They said, “Well, we’re bringing back NATO solidarity and unity.” I’m thinking, “Okay. That’s why he (Putin) went into Georgia. That’s why he went into Crimea. That’s why he went into Eastern Ukraine. That’s why he has gone into Central Ukraine.”
It’s a long explanation about what Turkey’s freelancing, Germany’s freelancing. These are incredible times right now.
All of our listeners are so confused and baffled. They wake up and they see Ukraine and they can’t make any sense of it.
They think, “Okay, we need oil, so we’re sanctioning Russia, but we’re asking the Russians to negotiate the Iran deal for us. Okay. But we’re not letting the North Dakotans or the Texans or the Alaskans pump another two or three million barrels. They are our brethren, United States citizens, that are in a depression almost, or high-end stagflation, and they could really help us out, but we’re going to beg Vladimir Putin? We’re going to beg the Saudis? We’re going to beg the Iranians? We’re going to beg the Venezuelans to pump more?”
They can’t figure it out. It’s insane. And the same thing about NATO.
“Okay. We’re all on the same page with NATO. We don’t want to make fun of NATO. But they’re not going to pay the 2 percent that we do, and we’re going to keep doing this?”
So it doesn’t make any sense. The only common denominator I can think of is weakness, or maybe green ideology, zealotry. How could you explain that Joe Biden’s administration came in and the first thing they did was say to the Germans, “We agree, you need Russian oil and gas. Go ahead with Nord Stream 2. We’re going to drop the Trump sanctions.”
“And by the way, Cypress, Greece, and Israel that are allies of the United States, who are just formulating this brilliant idea to tap Mediterranean and Aegean natural gas and oil and pipe it right into Northern Italy, right into the belly of Europe—don’t do that. It’s not tolerable according to climate change protocol.”
So we vetoed a way of supplying Europe with fossil fuels from allies. We opened up or encouraged another pipeline from enemies. That was the Biden administration that did that. All of these things are so bizarre that the American people are confused.
Mr. Jekielek: Putin’s propaganda has been, “We are denazifying Ukraine.”
Mr. Hanson: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: There are these Azov battalions that are somehow actually far-right? Tell me how you understand that.
Mr. Hanson: If you talk to guys in their 80’s or 90’s—I wrote a book on World War II, and I would try to do that when I could. And you would hear a lot about D-Day. One of the weirdest things about D-Day was, when they captured D-Day defenders and they spoke Ukrainian, they were not bilingual.
This is what Hitler had done with the half a million Ukrainians who felt they were liberated by the Nazis, and didn’t really worry about the fate of the Jews too much. You can see why they did because of the great famines and what Stalin had done to them, the collectivization and the war on the kulaks.
They didn’t want them fighting on the Eastern front because of loyalties, so they sent them as peacekeepers. I shouldn’t say peacekeepers—as garrisons along the Atlantic coast. That’s where Americans ended up being shot by them.
So there’s a torturous history in Ukraine. That’s very hard to simply just reduce to, “They were the best people in the world in World War II, and our allies, and they helped everybody.” No, that’s not true at all. And yet on their point of view, they had certain reasons, like the Finns did, to fight against Stalin, given what Stalin had done to them.
I’ll give you one other example of the bizarre things that happened. Zelenskyy, being the rockstar and the representation of Western consumer capitalist democracy, suspended all the opposition right in the middle of the war. He just said, “You, you, you, and you have no access to my media. Now I’m the only media, and your political party is going to be in suspended animation.
And I’m thinking, “Okay, but you’re not in a World War.” FDR held a 1944 election. Winston Churchill, once the European theater was over, held elections and he was defeated by Clement Attlee, right when he was attacking and being attacked in Singapore with the whole Pacific front still furious. The last four, five months of the Pacific were the most deadly in the history of that theater.
Yet, he didn’t suspend elections. He not only held them, he was voted out of office. If he’s really this constitutional boar, why did he do that? What I just said would be considered pro-Putin. It is not. It’s just that I wish that people would get a little bit more sophisticated and complex. War is never 100 percent good, 100 percent bad. It’s murky. People have 54 percent right. The other people have 46 percent. And if you’re over 51 percent, that’s usually good enough to support one side.
Ukraine more or less has the moral edge, both historically and in the present. I’m not stupid enough to think I’m going to get on the Ukrainian gaga wagon and just say, “Oh my gosh, look at him—and people have said this—he’s a Christ-like figure.”
He’s not. He’s a realist politician that wants his nation to survive, and he’s willing to do anything he can to do it. Sometimes that means lie about history, and get rid of the opposition.
Don’t tell me that Ukraine is a transparent democratic society. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t support it. That’s what’s so funny about the Left. “We can’t support the Contras. We can’t support the Taiwanese.” They can’t support all of these other people because they’re not quite liberal enough, or they’re not quite woke enough or constitutional. But they can support people on the Left that are perceived to be on the Left. They don’t need to meet the same standards.
Mr. Jekielek: I want to touch on these Azov battalions in Ukraine. I’ve had a guest on the show who is very concerned about the West effectively supporting potentially extremist entities. He’s a counter-extremist activist.
At the same time, there’s one of these, to use your word, mystical topics—the biolabs. Of course, there are biolabs. The U.S. has commented on the biolabs, and they have been involved. They’re being used, of course, as propaganda, as well.
So on both of these topics, what is your understanding?
Mr. Hanson: I’m worried about these issues too. One way to look at it is when you’re actually in war, the spectrum of tolerance widens. So if you’re Zelenskyy and you say, “We have some ultra-nationalist, right-wing, hyper-patriotic or irredentist Ukrainians, and they don’t have a good record in the past or the present, but they’re willing to fight Russians, we’ll let them.
In the same way during World War II, Churchill said, “I’d go to hell and get the devil to help me, if it would stop the Germans.” That’s how we explained asking the Soviets. Recently, research has shown that the Soviets were much worse than we thought, as far as their double-dealing, the manipulation of the fronts, and the ingratitude they showed to us.
Nevertheless, they killed two out of every three Wehrmacht soldiers.
What is the price that Zelenskyy paid these ultra-right-wing battalions to fight, if any? We won’t really know until it’s over with. During the actual heat of battle, you’re getting all sorts of people, flocking into Ukraine.
A lot of them are mercenaries. It doesn’t mean that Putin is right when he said they’re hired thugs and all of that, because they’re doing the same thing. They are bringing in Syrians, supposedly, and Chechens. That’s what happens. It’s like the Spanish Civil War where we all felt that these people were idealists.
No, a lot of these people were hardcore Trotskyites. The communist party was running the show on the loyalist faction, and Mussolini and Hitler were Franco’s puppeteers. That’s what happens when the world looks at a dividing line as a referendum on respective values and hopes.
So there’s some pretty odious figures coming into this war. Zelenskyy is posing as this Churchillian leader. But he doesn’t seem to be a champion of civil liberties. If he wants to play Churchill and galvanize the world with idealism, then you can’t outlaw political parties. And you may have to clamp down on some of these ultra-right groups that helped you after the war is over.
As far as the biolabs, I have a very quirky explanation. I didn’t know that before the breakup of the USSR, Soviet military-affiliated biological labs that were the center of the program were located in Ukraine.
I didn’t know—and I may speak for the American people—I didn’t know that the United States had a plan to decommission these. When it was brought up in the news that the decommissioning seemed to be taking a long time, I became a little worried. “Why didn’t you just decommission them?” After World War II, when we looked at German rocketry and we looked at German Zyklon B, we didn’t just stop it. We took it over to the United States and we incorporated Wernher von Braun’s team.
This is a guy who had blood on his hands with the V2 rockets, killing innocent British civilians. Zyklon B was an organophosphate, and it was the precursor of the American pesticide industry. So I had that in mind. When Victoria Nuland was testifying—she was our Ukrainian point woman, very articulate, very bright, married to Robert Kagan—I thought, “She’ll just explain it and that’ll be it.” She will just say, “We had a program, just like we disassembled the nuclear weapons of Ukraine and sent the material back to Russia. We had a partnership, a quartet, and it worked well. We did the same thing. It took a little bit longer and we’ve got a little bit of residual.”
But she didn’t. She looked like a deer in the headlights. She wasn’t an effective witness.
That performance, or lack of one, was analogous to Robert Mueller defending the Mueller investigation, if you remember that. She’s really not in his league, but for a moment she was. That created all of this controversy. So I don’t know what to make of it. My only concern, and I think of most people, is if there are virae there that are gain-of-function, or enhanced for vaccination purposes, or for whatever purpose—are they secure if a Russian missile hits them?
That’s the real worry, that Putin knows where they are, because the Russians built them. If he takes a missile and tries to hit one of them and blow them up, then all he has to say is, “Why were they active? According to the agreement, they should have finished their work a long time ago. I didn’t know it. I just hit something by accident.”
Then we don’t know what that would release. We don’t have the information, whether they’re viable specimens or what they were doing.
We need some explanations about it. That’s what I’m worried about. We haven’t got transparency. But I haven’t bought into the, “We were in league with the Ukrainians creating biological weapons and maybe as a deterrent against Russian nukes,” or whatever the conspiracy is.
If it was as simple as Nuland said, then she would’ve been much more confident in her answers.
Mr. Jekielek: There is something that strikes me as we’re talking here today. President Biden said this himself, “The world order is being challenged.”
Mr. Hanson: New World Order. George H.W. Bush.
Mr. Jekielek: Okay. Tell me what you’re thinking right now. And then I’ll continue.
Mr. Hanson: Whoever gave him that phrase should have his head examined, because New World Order brings back the Bushes going into the first Gulf War. It brings back globalism. It’s the Davos reset.
Specifically, it is a very transparent attempt to leverage an existential crisis into a political agenda, just in the way COVID did. Remember that Klaus Schwab at Davos said, “This is a chance to have a Great Reset.”
He wrote a book called, “COVID-19: The Great Reset,” meaning we can force corporations worldwide to have a uniform corporate structure. We can choose the diverse members of the board on an international scale that supersedes sovereignty.
Then that was echoed by Gavin Newsom who said, “COVID allows us to be more progressively capitalistic, have capitalism in a new progressive way.”
Hillary said, “I don’t know, maybe COVID will help us get universal healthcare.”
In the same way, after the 2008 meltdown, Rahm Emanuel said, “Never let a great crisis go to waste.”
So when he said ‘New World Order,’ right in the middle of a Ukrainian crisis, you thought, “Well, what is your New World Order? It’s what? An international consortium going to do what? Stop the Ukrainian war? Stopped the Iranian nuclear proliferation? And who are they that are going to do this?”
Well, there’s only four or five people in the world that have the power to force less powerful people to go along. That’s us, and China, maybe Russia, German and Japan, the economic powers. But who is it?
Because people are not just going to raise their hands. Then the next thing I thought was, “Before, you solved all the world’s problems with an international consortium. We did that before, right after World War II, and we created the New World Order. That meant, we said to the world, “The shipping lanes will be open. Communications will be open, and we will deter the Soviet Union from taking over Europe and Asia.” That was a different United States, wasn’t it?
It had men like FDR and Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower and JFK at its helm. It had, by far, the world’s largest economy. It was energy self-sufficient. It was confident, robust, and coming off the victory of World War II. But when I look at this generation, I see Barack Obama. I see Joe Biden. I see giving up energy independence. I see woke narratives. I see 128 days of rioting. I see hysteria over a laptop. It’s not the same United States.
And Joe Biden is no Harry Truman. I’m very pessimistic. He said that, of course, to assert U.S. leadership, rather than actualize or reify. He always does that, doesn’t he? He threatens people with corn pop, like braggadocio, but he never follows through.
During the campaign, he said, “Vladimir Putin’s going to fear me. He knows who I am.” No, he’s not, he knows who you are. He doesn’t fear you. But it’s always, “I’m the tough guy. I’m going to take Donald Trump behind the gym and beat him up.”
When you hear people talk like that, it comes from asking him a question, “Should we send more Javelins right away? Or maybe harpoon missiles that could protect the Ukrainian coast Mariupol or Odessa from amphibious attack?”
“No, I’m a little worried about that.” That’s Joe Biden. Talk tough, because he’s not willing to take the heat to make tough decisions. It’s not a win-win, it’s a lose-lose decision.
Mr. Jekielek: Here’s the question. This actually points towards some of what I was going to talk about, which is the U.S.-led world order, post-World War II. It appears to be coming apart.
Mr. Hanson: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s in jeopardy, but there’s considerable benefits to it, actually, you could argue.
But there seems to be all sorts of people—this is something that unites people on the Left and the Right—there’s all sorts of people cheering for it to actually fall apart.
Mr. Hanson: Yes. It is falling apart. But why is it falling apart? It’s falling apart because of this global veneer of popular culture, the Internet, TikTok, Facebook, common music, and everybody all over the world watching a Super Bowl halftime.
It has created this veneer that we’re all on the same page, and we just don’t need it. There’s no need for it. We’re all in the global world community. But that’s not true. It’s really just a veneer.
Nationalism is still there. Ethnic, racial, religious divides are still there. You need some type of coercive power, not to get into their internal affairs, but to tell the Somali pirates, “If you send in a rocket and take out a tanker, we’re going to blow up your base.
And that’s what the United States Navy did. But we don’t think that you need that anymore. On the one hand, that’s being naive. On the other hand, Trump, Obama, and Biden for various reasons said, “We’re not going to do that anymore. All of them together have a larger aggregate GDP than we do. They don’t contribute.”
We can’t get Australia and Japan and Taiwan and South Korea on the same page to check Chinese aggression. China, in that void, is the new power.
China is going to control all the major choke points of the world. One day it is going to run Egypt’s Suez Canal. It’s going to run the Panama Canal like it does, only in their interest. It’s going to run a lot of the South China Sea from the Spratly Islands. It has been so advanced and confident in that agenda, that to stop it now would require a major war.
So the United States looks around and says, “Not us.” And that’s what the problem is. The irony is that actually, in all of the historical barometers of strength, the United States is superior.
We only have 330 million people. China has 1.4 billion. So they have almost five times our population and their GDP is smaller. In crude terms, that means one Chinese citizen is not producing as much goods. One American citizen is producing five times the goods and services of a Chinese citizen, in that way of thinking.
In the Japanese or British education surveys of the top 100, top 50, top 20 major universities that are not based on the English department or the gender studies or computer engineering, mathematics, physics, it’s still all American at the top. It’s about 17 out of 20.
Caltech is usually number one, or MIT, Harvard, Stanford. California has more top-ranked universities in the top 25 than any other nation in the world, except the U.S. You look at fuel, natural gas. That’s what a society is. It’s education, it’s the fuel that keeps people moving.
We were the largest producer of gas and oil in the world until two years ago. Food, we’re the most efficient. China may produce a little bit more, but we’re the most efficient food producer in the world.
So it’s education, food, fuel, and defense. For all of the wokeness, the inefficiency, the corporate revolving door of retired generals, the corruption in the Pentagon, we still have the largest military in the world. We’re the oldest democracy, or constitutional republic, whatever you choose to call it, in existence right now.
By every imagined barometer of national strength, we should be stronger than we’ve ever been, but we’re not. That’s because of this woke postmodern anti-American fringe, that was always necessary to remind us not to be too cocky. It was always in a minority role, not by race or gender, but by ideology, saying, “Don’t get too cocky here.” There was some value in that. Now it is the dominant narrative. It’s defeatism, cannibalism, suicidal impulse, nihilism, and that can destroy an empire, and can destroy a great nation.
We were never an empire, but it’s destroying us. We have to have leaders who say, “We don’t have to be perfect to be good. We just need to be better than all the alternatives. We’re not going to fall down and ask for forgiveness because we’re not utopia, heaven on earth.
That’s what the Left has done to us. It has a history of doing that to countries, whether Cuba or China or Russia or Venezuela. It can be insidious.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s just jump back to the bigger picture. As we finish up here, please put on your historian hat again. Today has been compared to what prompted World War I, and what prompted World War II. We’ve talked about that in this interview already, but what analogies do you see to past history?
Mr. Hanson: People cite World War I and World War II for a couple of reasons. In World War I, it was Serbia, an area that is located in between realms of influence.
There was the Russian Empire and it was Orthodox. Then there was the Austro-Hungarian empire that was Central European and Catholic-Protestant. Serbia was right in between and wanted to be free from Austria-Hungary.
It was a flashpoint to reflect elemental differences between the two cultures. World War II started in Poland. You could argue that the countries between Europe and Russia, that is Hungry and Poland and Romania and Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia and Finland, right down that spine, were at various times contested either in a cold fashion, right before 1939, or right after. Think of the Munich Agreement and the German Sudetenland.
So it is a disturbing parallel that the geography is once again, between Europe and Russia.
The second thing is their irredentist problems. In these areas of contention, there were outside parties that said, “This country belongs to us.”
Take the World War II example, Germany said, “The Versailles Treaty stripped us of our natural right to protect German speakers in east Prussia, which had created Poland. And they didn’t believe in anything called Gdansk. It was Danzig.
They didn’t believe that the Sudeten Germans were part of the Czech Republic. They didn’t believe Austria was really a separate country. They didn’t believe in the Alsace–Lorraine, where there were German speakers. There was an effort to bring them back.
That’s very scary because that’s what Russia is doing again. These are very primitive, neanderthal things that we all have in us.
The third thing is, and this is what a lot of historians have been worried about. They all have another commonality. Nobody thought that when Archduke Ferdinand was murdered, it would lead to 17 million dead. If you told somebody in August, 1914, that you’re going to start this ball rolling, nobody would believe you.
When Germany decided to have the plebiscite in the Saarland or the Anschluss, or go into Sudetenland, nobody felt it was going to start a World War II.
In fact, the word, World War II, did not really exist in the popular vocabulary. Some scholars had thought about it. The Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941. Then all of a sudden, 1941 saw Russia go to war, Then there was Pearl Harbor.
Mussolini and Hitler declared war on the United States. Then it was a World War. Before that it was the Polish War. It was over with. There was a big movement in Germany to decommission troops.
Then it was the Danish War, and it was a Belgian War. Then it was a French War. Then it was the Blitz. And then it was the Yugoslavian War. Then the Norway War—these 11 theaters. We never considered it a World War.
We know that, because people use the term Great War, then suddenly in 1941, they start talking about World War I.
So that is similar to what we say today, nuclear war, or this can’t expand, or we could never… It’s the same blinkered idea.
The geography is similar, the aims of Putin are similar to other irredentist megalomaniacs, and the denial that this powder keg can explode into a larger war are the same. The only thing that I can see is different is, in World War I and World War II, the United States was not an active player.
What if the United States had to said to the Kaiser in 1914, “We have a natural affinity with Britain and the land of France is sacrosanct.” Because when we did go to war, we finally were getting 10,000 men a week and we sent 2 million people over there in one year and crushed the German army.
We don’t get credit for it in World War I, but that was really the story. In World War II, had we been armed as we were by 1943, if we had been armed as we were in 1943 in 1938, Hitler would have never done that. Goring said to us, “You make good planes, but you don’t make enough of them, sorry.”
By 1944, we had a fleet that was larger than all the fleets in the world put together. If we had had that, he would’ve never done it, But today we do, we are engaged, we have enormous power, and we can effect change before it gets started.
There is such a thing as a bipartisan consensus. We need to be very careful how we use it, but to use it nevertheless, so this war does not expand. The difference as I see it is people on the Right who are very pro-Ukrainian are divided.
Some of them say, let’s help Ukraine with weapons. But given the complex history of that country and our own checkered relation with Putin, let’s not just go gung-ho and give them unqualified support and get into a nuclear war.
Then there’s the other people who are Jacksonians. They say, “No, you let him come in there, and you establish a precedent that he’ll be doing it everywhere.”
Whereas the Left is more united, and united in a very bizarre way. Anybody who says that you don’t give unqualified support is an asset, is a Russian puppet. We’re going to do everything that we can, and it’s unlimited. I’m quoting the squad or Eric Swalwell, “Why don’t we have a no-fly zone? We could do it.” It’s very funny.
Mr. Jekielek: Two quick things. On the Right, people are thinking, “Let the Ukrainians deal with their own situation.”
Mr. Hanson: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: To be fair, there’s actually a significant portion.
Mr. Hanson: There’s some on the Right that will say, “We didn’t ask the Ukraine to get in our business. They’ve gotten in our business before, but we didn’t ask them to, and we don’t want to get in their business. It’s time we just stay clear. It’s a tragedy, but it’s their tragedy, not ours.” Some of them are saying that.
Mr. Hanson: There’s other people who are saying, “Okay, you went into Afghanistan to do what? Maybe it was to get rid of Bin Laden, but very soon you decided to turn that into nation-building for the Afghan people. You went in to get rid of Saddam Hussein because you said he had violated UN accords. But very soon it was for the Iraqi people.
Well, Ukrainian people have a quasi-democracy and they will fight for us against our enemies. That wasn’t true of the Afghans or the Iraqis.
Then the other side says, “We did the wrong thing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s not risk it a third time.”
So, I’ve never seen a more complex, messy political spectrum. Maybe it’s good that you can’t just say I’m a Democrat or I’m a Republican.
Although the Left now sees this for other reasons that you and I discussed. It is a hysterical crisis, a hysterical crisis in which they can ramp up their outrage and virtue-signal their moral superiority over everybody.
Mr. Jekielek: I agree. It’s an incredibly complex situation right now in terms of what people are thinking. But it does hark back to what you were saying just moments ago, which is, the U.S. somehow stopped believing in itself to some extent. That’s my observation looking at it from the outside, as a fierce American exceptionalist. Maybe rediscovering that belief or some courage would be what the doctor ordered. Is that even possible at this stage?
Mr. Hanson: Yes, it is possible. There’s an alternative point of view that says for all the complexity and self-interest in disunity, there’s a glimmer of hope that there is still such a thing as the West. So when this thing happened, Germany, France, Britain were on the same page as us.
Then certain things happen that we in our right minds never thought would happen. President Macron says, “I would like to remind President Putin that NATO was a nuclear power.”
I couldn’t believe that he said that when Putin was threatening everybody. Then the German Chancellor Scholz, said, “We will meet and exceed our 2 per cent. We will re-arm.”
I thought, “Wow, that’s very strange.” Suddenly people said, “This is a wake-up call on Taiwan.”
So how would that be orthodox? How could that become orthodox, that unorthodox burst of unity or backbone?
You could envision, in the next two or three weeks, the Ukrainians flooded as they are with weapons, and hurt as Russia is, that Russia loses the propaganda war. Because people all over the world will begin to resent the absolute slaughter a little bit more than they are. Then they start waging counter-offensives, and we control Putin so he doesn’t go nuclear or deter him. And by military force, they casually start to decrease.
Then they rout the Russians. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I wish it would happen, whatever cuts down the number of dead the most quickly. It could be a negotiated settlement or a rout of Putin, and then he can claim whatever he wants.
What would happen if all of NATO would say at the next summit, “We’re going to make our 2 per cent.” Germany would say, “We’re going to contribute, we have the biggest, a massive army.”
The United States says, “We’re going to pump oil, we’re going to pump natural gas. We believe in this green agenda, but you know what, if you give up your advantages and fossil fuels, you get people killed.”
So just like the German Green Party can be overruled in Germany, then the squad and the radical environmentalists can too.
Out of that, all of us have learned that we need to be energy-independent. We need to be united. Our armed forces need to be physically and materially and militarily strong, because we have a China on the horizon. We should tell China right now, they can’t split us. We’re going to have a uniform policy of sanctions against them if they try it in Taiwan. We’re going to be tough on their trade. Our military is going to be 10 times stronger than theirs.
We actually have a larger population, Europe, the United States, North America, and all of Europe together, than China does, or at least equivalent.
So the West has that potential. That would be something that would be good.
Otherwise, we’re going to be relegated to Athens during the Roman Empire—a nice place to hang out, and talk about the glory of the past. Plutarch writes “Lives of the Noble Greeks,” and compares them to Romans. Athens is a tourist center. Sparta, you go down and see these guys dressed up in hoplite gear and say, “Wow, there used to be an army here.”
You look at the ruins of Thebes and say, “Wow, this is where Antigone was started.” But it was not, it was just a backwater of the Roman Empire. And that’ll be what we’ll become if China’s visions are reified.
Mr. Jekielek: Victor Davis Hanson, it’s such a pleasure to have you on again.
Mr. Hanson: Thank you for having me.
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