If I Were Commander In Chief

My experience as Dean of a Business and Computer Technology Division in a community college led me to rehearse administrative decisions I might make in other managerial scenarios.

For example what would I do if I was Commander-In-Chief of the United States after a Ukrainian rebel military unit downed commercial Malaysian Air Flight 17 killing 298 innocent civilians, including one American?

Admittedly that’s beyond my experience, but I was curious about what I’d decide, and disappointed with the conclusion I made.

I dwelled on the decision after I read the article Why Putin Turned Against the US  in The Atlantic’s July edition profiling the recently retired U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, a long time analyst of Russian politics. He believes President Putin has evolved from a collaborative world leader during his first term to a Russian empire builder as a Machiavellian ruler in his current term.

Putin wants to recover resources and Russian talent in satellite states lost after the break-up of the Soviet Union. His first move re-annexed Crimea.

The White House has information that he has been destabilizing Ukraine with corruption and supported Eastern Ukraine rebels with military equipment, training and oversight from a top Russian official.

One of those rebel units fired the deadly missile that downed the Malaysian flight. The missile launcher was Russian and operators were trained by Russian military under the leadership of retired Russian military officers.

That forced Obama into considering decisions regarding that attack. What would I do?

What were the circumstances? Was it a rogue group acting on its own? Was it an accident? Was there an apology coming?

What are the options for a response from the U.S. beyond diplomatic protests? Join with NATO to enforce sanctions on Russian people and  avoid military intervention? Increase military weapons for NATO and Ukraine’s military? Delay any kind of military response until more was known?

The more considered an appropriate response the more I concluded the attack was the primary responsibility of Putin.

If he authorized it, he should experience a forceful counter-attack from NATO and the U.S.  Even if he hadn’t authorized it, he should experience a counter-attack because he lost control of forces he’s maintained, supplied and trained.

Putin is ultimately, unavoidably accountable for their actions and the punishment for their actions.

The local rebel force became an international terrorist group by downing the plane. That deadly terrorist group should be destroyed. Not just the weapon, but the trained personnel who operated the weapon and the military unit that deployed it.

I also concluded that more than the single Ukrainian unit should be targeted. Ukrainian rebels with similar land-to-air Russian weapons that are operating under the same Russian control may need to be destroyed in the field before delivering a similar attack.

Putin and his military rebels must expect Russian supported terrorist groups will be targeted for annihilation.

Annihilation would be a tragic loss of life that disturbs me and my Christian faith with my abhorrence of military intervention in other nations. I can only beg forgiveness for failing to find a pacifist response.

Once I reached that conclusion I wrestled with setting in motion the agencies responsible for assisting NATO forces or unilaterally delivering and justifying the attack. Could NATO forces with special assistance deliver the attack? How quickly could the U.S. military identify each terrorist unit’s movements and be prepared to attack? Could the Secretary of State point to security and treaty obligations that would support it?  Could the Justice Department provide legal justification for a unilateral attack?

Once those issues were resolved I would authorize military forces to destroy the targeted weapons and personnel in the terrorist units once they were re-deployed on Ukrainian soil, preferably before missiles were fired at any target.

Of course I’m obviously incapable of truly understanding the complexities of the decision and disturbed by the violence of the consequences.

I’m comfortable with sharing my conclusion as one of the responsibilities I have as a citizen in our democracy.

About Russellsclearskies

Writing to poke fun at a retired klutz like me who's curiously exploring the absurdities and complexities of the good life. .
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7 Responses to If I Were Commander In Chief

  1. Deborah Moore says:

    HI Jim,

    Great article – must say I was a bit surprised with your conclusion. It is a tough situation – like many situations in the world right now.

    Thanks for your insight.


  2. Garibaldi says:

    Be careful;, Jim. A decade or so ago a US ship in the gulf shot down an Iranian commercial jet killing about the same number of innocents. The US said it was an accident as the ship thought it was an Iranian fighter/bomber attaching them . I suspect the situation is similar with the Ukrainian rebel shoot-down.

    • I remember the US shot down a commercial airliner and have comments from Iranians who angrily recall it in current reports. The systemic build-up of forces and steady increase in the seriousness of the attacks makes me believe Putin is systematically buidling up regime expansion and empire building. And the recent moves by Putin’s forces and his sudden willness to offer peace initiatives based on his gains, make me doubt it was accidental.

      • Garibaldi says:

        Jim, I to believe the recent shoot down was probably no accident, but I suspect many other don’t see it that way. Anyway I agree that Putin is a bully and will push as far as he can if and until the International Community stops him. Hopefully that will come sooner rather than after he has gobbled up much of Eastern Europe and that it can be accomplished with out bloodshed.

  3. Cliff says:

    I also have to agree with Garibaldi. Also I was very surprised at the reaction of Europe to the event. Shocked, but “no” on any warring or physical confrontation.
    The US has to back off on sticking its nose in other peoples affairs. Keeping in mind we haven’t “WON” a war since WW2, and look at the number of major and minor ones we’ve been in. If Europe isn’t that interested in going to war, then so be it. Then we back them on the economic aspects. Besides, like us with the Middle East, Europe is “highly” dependent on Russian natural gas. The Russians could actually freeze Europe out if they were inclined to this winter. And Europe knows it.
    I’m not a Pacifist, but I’m tired of us warring mostly for corporation dividends. I was also in the USAF on alert in Germany during the Cuban Missile Crisis and was within 20 seconds of firing 8, 1.5 MT nuclear warheaded missiles, when the stand down order arrived. Afterward it changed me forever when I was briefed as to what “our total” response was going, or would of been. Europe was totally radioactive and unliveable. As the General giving the briefing said, “It is not a matter of having the necessary weapons. It is finding enough targets for the weapons” At the time, we had 34,000 nukes, the Russians 30,000. In places we were hitting freeway junctions with nukes, everything else was quite literally GONE.

    • What a profound experience. I have read we were closer to nuchear war in the Cuban missle crisis than has been understonnd, but that may have been the same time you described. I share your weariness with warring interventions, particularly in the Middle East where I’ve been opposed to all ur recent interventions, except where ISIS seemed to be ready for genocide. In Eurpoe and the Ukraine, I think Putin is empire building and NATO needs to be strengthened and to reduce their depreendence on Russain energy supplies. It’ll take years from what little I know. I may be wrong, very wrong about my approach, and as surprised as Deeborah and others are.

  4. Richard Dickson says:

    I have changed my email to radickson54@gmail.com

    Sent from my iPhone


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