As nations memorialize D-Day, fears mount over next great conflict

by Will Tubbs

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

Eighty years ago Thursday, the unquestioned forces of good – soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada – stormed onto the beaches of Normandy and overcame brutal fighting conditions and immense casualties to gain a necessary Allied foothold in Europe. 

History remembers D-Day well, and well it should. Without D-Day, the world of 2024 might have looked quite different. 

Yet. as old allies gathered in Northwest France to memorialize the achievements of a disappearing Greatest Generation, two contemporary questions continued to creep up. When will the next major world conflict begin and what role will the United States play?

Those lingering questions, which have for so long seemed abstract, felt a little more real this week as we gazed back through history at the last truly worldwide conflict and simultaneously learned that NATO is strategizing how to undertake a large-scale war with Russia, should such a conflict emerge. 

The Daily Telegraph of London reports that NATO is establishing land corridors that it would use to speed troops. Specifically United States troops, into battle should Russia invade a nation like Finland or Poland. 

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin will not stop once the war against Ukraine is over,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said, according to the New Voice of Ukraine. “Just as clearly as Hitler, who also always said that he would not stop.”

Pistorius’s remarks were meant to inspire NATO nations to develop a standing force of 300,000 battle-ready troops, whose primary purpose would be answering a Russian attack. 

The natural question, though, is why so many troops are likely to be American. 

In short, the answer lies in the fact that America is the nation with the military currently ready to fight such a war. European nations have militaries, to be sure, but none are as yet on anything resembling wartime readiness. 

It takes time to raise an army, even in 2024, and each European nation has a unique method by which it staffs its military. That means the United States is on the hook to shoulder most of the fighting. 

But even moving U.S. troops through Europe is a headache as each nation has its own travel policies. That, coupled with a lack of superhighways, would make troop movement both a practical and bureaucratic mess. 

NATO’s land corridor plan would, in theory, ease those headaches. Under this approach, U.S. troops and equipment would land in the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Turkey or Norway and then travel through designated corridors to NATO countries in need. 

While the thought of hundreds of thousands of troops steaming toward a showdown with Russia is enough to cause alarm among most rational people, it is important to note that the NATO plan is one of preparedness. 

Thursday, NATO leaders took turns trying to calm nerves. 

Both NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Finnish President Alexander Stubb stressed that there is no imminent threat from Russia. 

“When the fighting ends in Ukraine, they can rebuild those forces,” Stoltenberg said, according to Newsweek. “But, again, that doesn’t mean that we see any danger for imminent attack against any NATO ally, because NATO is 50 percent of the world’s military might. NATO is the strongest alliance and military power in the world.”

Per Defense News, Stubb remarked, “I want to dissolve the idea that we will be bringing in brigades of NATO soldiers or American soldiers here. That we’re not doing, but we do welcome intensive training.”

Stubb added, “The best way to prevent war is to prepare for it,” Stubb added. Stoltenberg agreed, saying: “The purpose of NATO is actually not to fight the war but to prevent the war by having credible deterrence at any stage all over the alliance.”

While the prevailing statement from the West is that Russia will not be a threat to NATO nations for 5-7 years, history indicates such timeframes can be accelerated.

This week, Putin threatened to arm countries to attack the West. It was a vague statement, and Putin never specified which nations he would arm, but it carried the real weight of speeding the world to a massive conflict.

WHY THE ALARM? 

An optimist might view the remarks from NATO as nothing more than Western leaders hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. 

Certainly, there is truth in that assessment. But a pessimist, or even jaded realist, will no doubt point out that the NATO plan comes as financial and popular support for Ukraine has waned. 

At least a small portion of the messaging emerging from NATO and President Joe Biden centers on a notion that as long as Ukraine takes the fight to Russia, Russia can’t take the fight to anyone else. 

“We don’t see any imminent military threat against any NATO ally,” Stoltenberg said. “Russia is more than preoccupied with the war on Ukraine.”

But Ukraine, as always, is asking for more help from the West, and that support has been slow in coming on both the political and supply-chain fronts. 

“Over the last months, we have seen some gaps, some delays in the provision of military support to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said. “The stronger our long-term commitment is for Ukraine, the sooner the war can end. Because then Moscow will understand that they cannot wait us out.”

Biden, who famously led his State of the Union Address with several minutes of Ukraine talk, repeated his habit of finding ways to shoehorn Ukraine funding into any speech. 

Thursday in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, Biden mentioned Ukraine six times in a speech ostensibly about honoring the precious few surviving Normandy invaders. 

“Ukraine has been invaded by a tyrant bent on domination,” Biden said, later adding, “The United States and NATO and a coalition of more than 50 countries [are] standing strong with Ukraine.  We will not walk away because if we do, Ukraine will be subjugated. 

“And it will not end there.  Ukraine’s neighbors will be threatened.  All of Europe will be threatened. And make no mistake, the autocrats of the world are watching closely to see what happens in Ukraine, to see if we let this illegal aggression go unchecked.  We cannot let that happen.”

Former President Donald Trump made no mention of Ukraine in his briefer D-Day post on Truth Social. 

“The men of D-Day will live forever in history as among the bravest, noblest, and greatest Americans ever to walk the earth,” Trump wrote. “They shed their blood, and thousands gave their lives, in defense of American Freedom. They are in our hearts today and for all time.”

Beyond providing an interesting contrast to Biden, Trump’s remarks indicate Ukraine is not the central concern of the top Republican, which will trickle down to rank-and-file Congressioanl conservatives, who have long resisted the idea of offering a blank check to Ukraine.

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