By Stuart Stevens
On day 468 of the Russian war of genocide against Ukraine, on the day that the Russians committed the greatest war crime of the 21st Century by blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam, the United Nations finally spoke up.
They celebrated Russian Language Day. “Tuesday is Russian Language Day,” the U.N. wrote on Twitter. “Follow @UnitedNationsRU for updates on the UN’s work in Russian.”
No, this isn’t a parody. While tens of thousands of Ukrainians were desperately fleeing their homes after yet another Russian atrocity, and thousands of the most vulnerable were trapped without drinking water, and the elderly and disabled called relatives to say goodbye as they awaited a slow death by drowning, the United Nations rejoiced in the glory of Russian Language Day.
It is commonplace to call the United Nations useless. That’s far too benign. The UN has become an organization that legitimatizes evil. It is a moral laundering service where mass murderers like Vladimir Putin can send their unspeakable crimes against humanity to be freshly repackaged as a member of good standing in the international community.
To work as the servant of evil is evil. By pretending to be an organization dedicated to international law while condoning genocide, the UN is performing the same role as the Medieval Popes blessing the massacres of the Crusades.
To ignore what the UN is doing and what it has become is to be compromised by a corrupt organization. In Germany, there was a saying that if one Nazi sits down at a table of nine and no one objects, ten Nazis get up from the table. So it is with the UN. When the Security Council of an organization is chaired by the diplomats of genocide, is there any reason to pretend that it maintains any redeeming purpose or moral standing?
The failures of the League of Nations led to the creation of the United Nations in a post-World War Two world. But while the League of Nations was largely ineffectual, it was never accused of aiding and abetting genocide or serving as an international PR agency for monsters like Putin.
The Russian invasion has been a stress test of the modern order. A brutal war of extinction in Europe was considered a historical tragedy to be studied, not a crisis for the 21st Century. Those who understand the truth of Russia have passed the test with the highest grade and honors: Poland, Estonia, Finland, Latvia. This has been a proud moment of leadership from the United Kingdom while France and Germany have responded with the moral confusion that is engrained in two countries that spent much of the last century slaughtering their own citizens in avoidable wars of choice.
Under the leadership of President Biden, the United States has once again put meaning behind the often hollow description of America as the leader of the free world. No credible argument can be made that if Donald Trump, the president the Russians helped elect, were still in office, Kyiv would not be under a puppet Russian government. The two leading candidates for the Republican nomination, Trump and DeSantis, have adopted Putin’s language that a genocidal war is a “territorial dispute.” On the same day of a historic Russian war crime, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the House would approve no additional funding for Ukraine. Russia knows that all it needs to do is hang on with the hope that the President, who is leading like an American, will be replaced by one of the aspiring autocrats who look to Putin as a role model.
The stability of post-WWII Europe has been a function of Article Five of the NATO treaty, binding each country to the defense of another if attacked. It is why there are no Russian tanks on the streets of Warsaw. But the successes of NATO should not blind us to the failures exposed by Russia’s ongoing genocide of the Ukrainian people. NATO has lacked the will to commit to stark and clear lines of aggression that Russia cannot cross without specific consequences. It is difficult to accept that there was not a course of action by NATO that could have prevented the second Russian invasion of Ukraine in under a decade.
So it was with the failure to make clear what the NATO response to a massive war crime like the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam would be. President Zelensky had requested UN observers to monitor the dam under Russian control. Observers were never sent because Russia knew there would be no consequences for ignoring the request. Had NATO simply stated that the headquarters and leaders of any Russian units involved in the dam’s destruction would be targeted, would the commanders of the unit have executed orders knowing it would lead to their own destruction?
What will NATO do if Russia engineers a radioactive release from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant? The reality that no one knows the answer greatly increases the odds it will happen. The response by NATO to Russian use of nuclear weapons is cloaked in the language of diplomacy designed for ambiguity. This is immensely dangerous and must end.
The Russian war of genocide in Europe once again proves the myth of a civilized world order that depends on shared values and goodwill. Mitt Romney was right in 2012 when he called Russia America’s “greatest geo-political foe.” The weakness America and NATO showed when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, murdered 298 passengers on Malaysian Flight 17, invaded Georgia, and used weapons of mass destruction to poison and murder British citizens in England, proved that this weakness cannot continue without more catastrophic disasters like the Nova Kakhovka dam destruction.
Clarity of intent and the will to follow through with force is the only combination that will limit Russia’s terrorist attacks. There is a deep sickness in Russia that cannot be cured by outsiders. It is an evil that can only be contained. As long as we continue to treat Russia like a civilized country, the longer it will continue to threaten civilized countries. We must accept the truth that Russia is nothing more than a nuclear-armed ISIS at war with the fundamental values of Western democracy and act accordingly. Until then, we will continue to wake up to more Russian war crimes of incalculable damage.