ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: When the world faces this kind of crisis, national unity is paramount

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The stock market took a plunge. Gas pump prices are edging upward by the hour. Whether Americans like it or not, the war in Ukraine is going to affect them in profound and unpleasant ways. No amount of complaining and political finger-pointing about who’s to blame will change the simple fact that a superpower invasion of a Texas-sized European country is going to continue reverberating around the world.

Citizens and politicians in this country can help shorten the duration by suspending the political sniping and uniting behind President Joe Biden’s efforts to keep the United States out of a shooting war with Russia while making President Vladimir Putin suffer maximum consequences for his aggression.

The preceding sentence will strike many conservative readers as laughable coming from a newspaper that has devoted years to criticizing the policies of former President Donald Trump. But never in his presidency did Trump face a situation like this. He and his supporters would argue that his tough policies were what deterred Putin from ever attempting such a move on Trump’s watch. There are very strong facts about Trump’s record that would tear that argument down quickly — facts that suggest Trump actually encouraged the chain of events that are now unfolding in Ukraine. But those are political arguments for another time.

Right now, the world is at a level of crisis not seen since the Cuban missile crisis of 1961, if not the Sept. 1, 1939, German invasion of Poland, when World War II started. Putin stated Tuesday that he was acting to defend two Russian-speaking eastern regions of Ukraine that, he asserted, were proclaiming their independence. It appeared that Russia’s incursion would be limited to that eastern region, much like Putin’s illegal seizure and annexation of Crimea in 2014. But if that were true, why did Putin launch attacks across all of Ukraine on Thursday and deploy ground troops to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, 200 miles to the northwest?

Every justification Putin claimed was based on lies. If he goes unchallenged, why should he stop at Ukraine? True to his megalomaniacal form, Putin has made clear his intention to restore Russia’s former glory through territorial expansion. Nothing in his portfolio of international military adventurism suggests it will end here.

What matters most right now is for Putin to encounter an unshakable wall of unified American resolve, with Republicans joining Democrats in declaring, just as George H.W. Bush declared in 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, that “this aggression will not stand.”

Just put the political posturing on hold for awhile. There will be plenty of opportunities to score points later. If ever there was a need for national unity, and for America to speak with one voice in opposition to Putin’s aggression, this is that moment.

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