Presidential Responses to Russian Invasions: Then and Now

 

Eisenhower 1957, LBJ 1969, Carter 1980, Biden regime 2022

2022 is not the first time the Russian empire has invaded neighboring countries, killing women and children in the name of preserving or restoring Russian interests. Three real American presidents addressed Russian invasions of neighbors. Transcripts of these president’s rhetorical responses are readily available and instructive, showing alternate and similar responses to the challenges we face today. Consider the context of each invasion and how U.S. presidents responded.

I have still not brought myself to watch the performance of pResident Biden, applauded like trained seals by the sorry residents of the People’s House and the grandees of the Greatest Deliberative Body. Yet, State of the Union addresses are a useful snapshot of the political posturing of United States presidencies over the years. The 2022 text invites comparison with Eisenhower’s address after the Russians invaded Hungary, LBJ’s address after the Russians crushed the Prague Spring in 1968, and Carter’s address after the Russians invaded Afghanistan, Islamists seized power in Iran, and a long, politically induced, energy shortage continued. Join me in considering the paths three real American presidents took in response to military challenges of their day, highlighting the alternatives to the current leftist regime’s views and actions.

In 1956, the people of Hungary threw off Moscow’s puppet government in a bloody revolution. They did so shortly after the Russian imperial leader, Nikita Khrushchev, gave a secret speech, denouncing Stalin, at the close of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. This secret speech was read once to communist governments at various levels and quickly leaked as hearsay reports. Later in the spring of 1956 a Russian language text was leaked outside the Iron Curtain, translated and reprinted in full in a the New York Times and the British newspaper, the Observer.

On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences” is available in English, including on a Marxist publications website. It indicts Stalin for violating socialist law and justice. Consider these sections from the full text:

Stalin put the Party and the NKVD up to the use of mass terror when the exploiting classes had been liquidated in our country and when there were no serious reasons for the use of extraordinary mass terror.

This terror was actually directed not at the remnants of the defeated exploiting classes but against the honest workers of the Party and of the Soviet state; against them were made lying, slanderous and absurd accusations concerning “two-facedness,” “espionage,” “sabotage,” preparation of fictitious “plots,” etc.

[…]

Even more widely was the falsification of cases practiced in the provinces.

[…]

The vicious practice was condoned of having the NKVD prepare lists of persons whose cases were under the jurisdiction of the Military Collegium and whose sentences were prepared in advance. Yezhov would send these [execution] lists to Stalin personally for his approval of the proposed punishment. In 1937-1938, 383 such lists containing the names of many thousands of Party, Soviet, Komsomol, Army, and economic workers were sent to Stalin. He approved these lists.

[…]

Very grievous consequences, especially with regard to the beginning of the war, followed Stalin’s annihilation of many military commanders and political workers during 1937-1941 because of his suspiciousness and through slanderous accusations. During these years repressions were instituted against certain parts of our military cadres beginning literally at the company- and battalion-commander levels and extending to higher military centers. During this time, the cadre of leaders who had gained military experience in Spain and in the Far East was almost completely liquidated.

The policy of large-scale repression against military cadres led also to undermined military discipline, because for several years officers of all ranks and even soldiers in Party and Komsomol cells were taught to “unmask” their superiors as hidden enemies.

[…]

All the more monstrous are those acts whose initiator was Stalin and which were rude violations of the basic Leninist principles [behind our] Soviet state’s nationalities policies. We refer to the mass deportations of entire nations from their places of origin, together with all Communists and Komsomols without any exception. This deportation was not dictated by any military considerations.

Thus, at the end of 1943, when there already had been a permanent change of fortune at the front in favor of the Soviet Union, a decision concerning the deportation of all the Karachai from the lands on which they lived was taken and executed.

In the same period, at the end of December, 1943, the same lot befell the [Kalmyks] of the Kalmyk Autonomous Republic. In March, 1944, all the Chechens and Ingushi were deported and the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic was liquidated. In April, 1944, all Balkars were deported from the territory of the Kabardino-Balkar Autonomous Republic to faraway places and their Republic itself was renamed the Autonomous Kabardian Republic.

Ukrainians avoided meeting this fate only because there were too many of them and there was no place to which to deport them. Otherwise, [Stalin] would have deported them also.

This speech, seemingly signaling a real change in Russian imperial policy, was given in the context of the Eisenhower presidency. President Eisenhower had advocated the self-determination of nations under Soviet Russian domination. He was also the supreme Allied commander who led the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany. People might hope that the global political winds were blowing in favor of national liberation. This was not the first or last time a Russian leader started a reform project, then found the results unacceptable and cracked down hard.

Encouraged by the new freedom of debate and criticism, a rising tide of unrest and discontent in Hungary broke out into active fighting in October 1956. Rebels won the first phase of the revolution, and Imre Nagy became premier, agreeing to establish a multiparty system. On November 1, 1956, he declared Hungarian neutrality and appealed to the United Nations for support, but Western powers were reluctant to risk a global confrontation. On November 4 the Soviet Union invaded Hungary to stop the revolution, and Nagy was executed for treason in 1958.

Eisenhower’s 1957 State of the Union message addressed the Russian invasion of Hungary, setting it in a larger context of American principles and policy:

The State of the Union, at the opening of the 85th Congress continues to vindicate the wisdom of the principles on which this Republic is rounded. Proclaimed in the Constitution of the Nation and in many of our historic documents, and rounded in devout religious convictions, these principles enunciate:

A vigilant regard for human liberty.

A wise concern for human welfare.

A ceaseless effort for human progress.

[…]

The recent historic events in Hungary demand that all free nations share to the extent of their capabilities in the responsibility of granting asylum to victims of Communist persecution. I request the Congress promptly to enact legislation to regularize the status in the United States of Hungarian refugees brought here as parolees. I shall shortly recommend to the Congress by special message the changes in our immigration laws that I deem necessary in the light of our world responsibilities.

The cost of peace is something we must face boldly, fearlessly. Beyond money, it involves changes in attitudes, the renunciation of old prejudices, even the sacrifice of some seeming self-interest.

Hungary did not share a border with countries in the young NATO alliance. It was on the frontier of the Iron Curtain because it borders Austria, a Cold War neutral. So, there was little chance of military aid. Further, the Hungarians were swiftly crushed by combined forces of the Russian empire, leaving the U.S. president little time to respond before Hungary was re-subjugated.

Eisenhower recognized this reality, calling only for a path to citizenship for refugees from Communist countries. In the larger context of two nations with the ability to rain thermonuclear devastation on each other, Eisenhower pointed to a long term strategy of out-competing the communist Russian empire across economic, political, and moral dimensions, while maintaining sufficient military strength to preserve our freedom.

The 1968 Prague Spring movement was peaceful, a bloodless revolution until the Russians responded with tanks, crushing the Prague Spring.

In January 1968, Alexander Dubcek took leadership of Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party. The grinning Slovak announced plans to ease censorship and restrict the powers of the hated secret police. Dubcek vowed to create “socialism with a human face.”

But as censorship was lifted, Czechoslovak media published explosive stories alleging corruption, murder, and other official wrongdoing. With newfound freedom to speak, Czechs and Slovaks began calling for fundamental political change.

[…]

Early on August 21, 1968, around 250,000 soldiers, 2,000 tanks, and hundreds of aircraft from the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland rumbled into Czechoslovakia. Just 29 years after the nightmare of the Nazi invasion, Czechs and Slovaks once again awoke to foreign troops on their soil.

Unlike Hungary, Czechoslovakia shared a long border with NATO, specifically West Germany. Yet, America was mired in Vietnam and our conventional forces seemed to be falling behind in modernization as the military budget was consumed sustaining our campaign in Vietnam. President Johnson was unwilling to either withdraw or attack to seek victory.

LBJ had secured his own term as president with victory over Barry Goldwater. A prominent attack ad claimed Goldwater would bring nuclear destruction on America. In this context, there was no chance a U.S. president would risk mutual nuclear devastation with military intervention across the Iron Curtain. The Czechs and Slovaks were on their own.

In November 1968, the American electorate rejected both LBJ and George Wallace, together representing a century old Democratic Party coalition. Nixon won 301 to 237. Yet, the Democrats maintained control of Congress and invited LBJ to give an extraordinary State of the Union address in January 1969, days before Nixon would take office, as a Democrat demonstration of defiance against the American electorate.

LBJ’s 1969 State of the Union address reflected a much less optimistic view than Eisenhower. Instead of out-competing the Russian empire, LBJ sought co-existence and survival.

For the future, the quest for peace, I believe, requires:

–that we maintain the liberal trade policies that have helped us become the leading nation in world trade,

–that we strengthen the international monetary system as an instrument of world prosperity, and

–that we seek areas of agreement with the Soviet Union where the interests of both nations and the interests of world peace are properly served.

The strained relationship between us and the world’s leading Communist power has not ended–especially in the light of the brutal invasion of Czechoslovakia. But totalitarianism is no less odious to us because we are able to reach some accommodation that reduces the danger of world catastrophe.

What we do, we do in the interest of peace in the world. We earnestly hope that time will bring a Russia that is less afraid of diversity and individual freedom.

President Carter’s State of the Union Address 1980 came at the beginning of his reelection campaign. He had presided over “stagflation,” a term coined to reflect economic stagnation together with inflation. He had no answers for the 1970s energy crisis, beyond Americans bundling up and making do with less. Iran, a Cold War friend, had fallen to a political Islamic force that rejected international conventions, seizing our embassy personnel. A rescue attempt went up in flames, victim of inter-service rivalries and a lack of compelled joint operational training. Then the Russians invaded Afghanistan under the pretext of protecting a communist government on their southern imperial border. This thrust went further than the Russian empire had ever gone in the Great Game with the British Empire.

Yet, Carter sounded closer to Eisenhower than LBJ in his response. His remarks are worth considering in greater length, instructive in their contrast with today’s Democrats’ agenda. Note the call for more coal production and what is now styled an “all of the above” energy policy, with the notable exception of nuclear power. Note the call for military modernization, already underway when he spoke. Carter even celebrated countering new Russian theater nuclear threats with new intermediate range nuclear weapons in NATO. Yet, the specter of nuclear annihilation hangs over his decisions, limiting his possible responses.

This last few months has not been an easy time for any of us. As we meet tonight, it has never been more clear that the state of our Union depends on the state of the world. And tonight, as throughout our own generation, freedom and peace in the world depend on the state of our Union.

The 1980’s have been born in turmoil, strife, and change. This is a time of challenge to our interests and our values and it’s a time that tests our wisdom and our skills.

At this time in Iran, 50 Americans are still held captive, innocent victims of terrorism and anarchy. Also at this moment, massive Soviet troops are attempting to subjugate the fiercely independent and deeply religious people of Afghanistan. These two acts–one of international terrorism and one of military aggression–present a serious challenge to the United States of America and indeed to all the nations of the world. Together, we will meet these threats to peace.

I’m determined that the United States will remain the strongest of all nations, but our power will never be used to initiate a threat to the security of any nation or to the rights of any human being. We seek to be and to remain secure–a nation at peace in a stable world. But to be secure we must face the world as it is.

Three basic developments have helped to shape our challenges: the steady growth and increased projection of Soviet military power beyond its own borders; the overwhelming dependence of the Western democracies on oil supplies from the Middle East; and the press of social and religious and economic and political change in the many nations of the developing world, exemplified by the revolution in Iran.

Each of these factors is important in its own right. Each interacts with the others. All must be faced together, squarely and courageously. We will face these challenges, and we will meet them with the best that is in us. And we will not fail.

[…]

Now, as during the last 3 1/2 decades, the relationship between our country, the United States of America, and the Soviet Union is the most critical factor in determining whether the world will live at peace or be engulfed in global conflict.

Since the end of the Second World War, America has led other nations in meeting the challenge of mounting Soviet power. This has not been a simple or a static relationship. Between us there has been cooperation, there has been competition, and at times there has been confrontation.

In the 1940’s we took the lead in creating the Atlantic Alliance in response to the Soviet Union’s suppression and then consolidation of its East European empire and the resulting threat of the Warsaw Pact to Western Europe.

In the 1950’s we helped to contain further Soviet challenges in Korea and in the Middle East, and we rearmed to assure the continuation of that containment.

In the 1960’s we met the Soviet challenges in Berlin, and we faced the Cuban missile crisis. And we sought to engage the Soviet Union in the important task of moving beyond the cold war and away from confrontation.

And in the 1970’s three American Presidents negotiated with the Soviet leaders in attempts to halt the growth of the nuclear arms race. We sought to establish rules of behavior that would reduce the risks of conflict, and we searched for areas of cooperation that could make our relations reciprocal and productive, not only for the sake of our two nations but for the security and peace of the entire world.

In all these actions, we have maintained two commitments: to be ready to meet any challenge by Soviet military power, and to develop ways to resolve disputes and to keep the peace.

Preventing nuclear war is the foremost responsibility of the two superpowers. That’s why we’ve negotiated the strategic arms limitation treaties–SALT I and SALT II. Especially now, in a time of great tension, observing the mutual constraints imposed by the terms of these treaties will be in the best interest of both countries and will help to preserve world peace. I will consult very closely with the Congress on this matter as we strive to control nuclear weapons. That effort to control nuclear weapons will not be abandoned.

We superpowers also have the responsibility to exercise restraint in the use of our great military force. The integrity and the independence of weaker nations must not be threatened. They must know that in our presence they are secure.

But now the Soviet Union has taken a radical and an aggressive new step. It’s using its great military power against a relatively defenseless nation. The implications of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan could pose the most serious threat to the peace since the Second World War.

The vast majority of nations on Earth have condemned this latest Soviet attempt to extend its colonial domination of others and have demanded the immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops. The Moslem [sic] world is especially and justifiably outraged by this aggression against an Islamic people. No action of a world power has ever been so quickly and so overwhelmingly condemned. But verbal condemnation is not enough. The Soviet Union must pay a concrete price for their aggression.

While this invasion continues, we and the other nations of the world cannot conduct business as usual with the Soviet Union. That’s why the United States has imposed stiff economic penalties on the Soviet Union. I will not issue any permits for Soviet ships to fish in the coastal waters of the United States. I’ve cut Soviet access to high-technology equipment and to agricultural products. I’ve limited other commerce with the Soviet Union, and I’ve asked our allies and friends to join with us in restraining their own trade with the Soviets and not to replace our own embargoed items. And I have notified the Olympic Committee that with Soviet invading forces in Afghanistan, neither the American people nor I will support sending an Olympic team to Moscow.

The Soviet Union is going to have to answer some basic questions: Will it help promote a more stable international environment in which its own legitimate, peaceful concerns can be pursued? Or will it continue to expand its military power far beyond its genuine security needs, and use that power for colonial conquest? The Soviet Union must realize that its decision to use military force in Afghanistan will be costly to every political and economic relationship it values.

The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two-thirds of the world’s exportable oil. The Soviet effort to dominate Afghanistan has brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Straits of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world’s oil must flow. The Soviet Union is now attempting to consolidate a strategic position, therefore, that poses a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil.

This situation demands careful thought, steady nerves, and resolute action, not only for this year but for many years to come. It demands collective efforts to meet this new threat to security in the Persian Gulf and in Southwest Asia. It demands the participation of all those who rely on oil from the Middle East and who are concerned with global peace and stability. And it demands consultation and close cooperation with countries in the area which might be threatened.

Meeting this challenge will take national will, diplomatic and political wisdom, economic sacrifice, and, of course, military capability. We must call on the best that is in us to preserve the security of this crucial region.

Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

President Carter clearly defined our vital national interest in terms credible to the American people. Following the oil shocks earlier in the 1970s, with shortages at the gas pump, Americans did not need to be convinced of the importance of keeping the oil flowing out of the Persian Gulf region.

During the past 3 years, you have joined with me to improve our own security and the prospects for peace, not only in the vital oil-producing area of the Persian Gulf region but around the world. We’ve increased annually our real commitment for defense, and we will sustain this increase of effort throughout the Five Year Defense Program. It’s imperative that Congress approve this strong defense budget for 1981, encompassing a 5-percent real growth in authorizations, without any reduction.

We are also improving our capability to deploy U.S. military forces rapidly to distant areas. We’ve helped to strengthen NATO and our other alliances, and recently we and other NATO members have decided to develop and to deploy modernized, intermediate-range nuclear forces to meet an unwarranted and increased threat from the nuclear weapons of the Soviet Union.

This was about the Soviet development of shorter range nuclear forces, seeking to uncouple the United States from Western Europe. The Russians were looking for the strategic advantage of destroying or threatening one or more European cities in the course of World War III, leaving the American president with the terrible choice of leaving NATO to surrender on Russian terms or risking nuclear devastation of the American homeland by launching an ICBM in response to the Russian first, shorter range, launch.

We are working with our allies to prevent conflict in the Middle East. The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel is a notable achievement which represents a strategic asset for America and which also enhances prospects for regional and world peace. We are now engaged in further negotiations to provide full autonomy for the people of the West Bank and Gaza, to resolve the Palestinian issue in all its aspects, and to preserve the peace and security of Israel. Let no one doubt our commitment to the security of Israel. In a few days we will observe an historic event when Israel makes another major withdrawal from the Sinai and when Ambassadors will be exchanged between Israel and Egypt.

Contrast this with the Biden regime’s not-so-secret dealings with the Iranian regime, arranged by Putin’s government.

[…]

The crises in Iran and Afghanistan have dramatized a very important lesson: Our excessive dependence on foreign oil is a clear and present danger to our Nation’s security. The need has never been more urgent. At long last, we must have a clear, comprehensive energy policy for the United States.

Carter was operating in the context of 1970s petroleum extraction technology, where we had tapped much of the easy, low production cost, oil in the continental United States. Fracking was far off in the future. Yet, he called for increased coal production and for a synthetic fuel program, which would turn coal into liquid or gaseous fuel. The one leftist line he did not cross was a call for major increases in nuclear power generation.

As you well know, I have been working with the Congress in a concentrated and persistent way over the past 3 years to meet this need. We have made progress together. But Congress must act promptly now to complete final action on this vital energy legislation. Our Nation will then have a major conservation effort, important initiatives to develop solar power, realistic pricing based on the true value of oil, strong incentives for the production of coal and other fossil fuels in the United States, and our Nation’s most massive peacetime investment in the development of synthetic fuels.

[…]

The single biggest factor in the inflation rate last year, the increase in the inflation rate last year, was from one cause: the skyrocketing prices of OPEC oil. We must take whatever actions are necessary to reduce our dependence on foreign oil–and at the same time reduce inflation.

As individuals and as families, few of us can produce energy by ourselves. But all of us can conserve energy–every one of us, every day of our lives. Tonight I call on you–in fact, all the people of America–to help our Nation. Conserve energy. Eliminate waste. Make 1980 indeed a year of energy conservation.

I leave the official 2022 State of the Union address transcript link for your possible consideration if you can stomach it. Recognize that the posturing about the Russian invasion of Ukraine is still ultimately constrained by the strategic constant of mutually assured destruction between America and Russia. Consider the absence of a call for domestic fossil fuel production, in contrast to President Carter, a liberal Democrat. Reflect on the revelations that the Biden regime’s “sanctions” are effectively negated by the secret and unconstitutional deal with the Khomeinist regime in Iran, as Putin is facilitating the deal and getting guarantees of the deal’s immunity from Ukraine war sanctions.

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  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    This  post is part of the March Group Writing Theme: “Now  and Then.”

    There are two major monthly Group Writing projects. One is the Quote of the Day project, managed by @she. This is the other project, in which Ricochet members claim one day of the coming month to write on an announced theme. This is an easy way to expose your writing to a general audience, with a bit of accountability and topical guidance to encourage writing for its own sake.

    • #1
  2. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    More great in-depth writing from you! Thank you

    • #2
  3. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    This  post demonstrates why pResident Biden is worse than President Carter — and that is saying something.

    • #3
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Rodin (View Comment):

    This post demonstrates why pResident Biden is worse than President Carter — and that is saying something.

    Yes, and it shows how far left the Democrat party has shifted.

    • #4
  5. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Presidential Responses to Russian Invasions, Then and Now: Eisenhower 1957, LBJ 1969, Carter 1980, Biden regime 2022

    Uh, you forgot the big one — which is why we are in this current mess.

    Putin took over or claimed to take over 20% of the population of Ukraine in 2014.

    And what did Obama do?  I think he sent them some blankets or something.

    • #5
  6. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Rodin (View Comment):

    This post demonstrates why pResident Biden is worse than President Carter — and that is saying something.

    Not only that, but he is worse than Clinton. 

    • #6
  7. TempTime Member
    TempTime
    @TempTime

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    This post is part of the March Group Writing Theme: “Now and Then.”

    There are two major monthly Group Writing projects. One is the Quote of the Day project, managed by @ she. This is the other project, in which Ricochet members claim one day of the coming month to write on an announced theme. This is an easy way to expose your writing to a general audience, with a bit of accountability and topical guidance to encourage writing for its own sake.

    @cliffordbrown , are you available for hire to ghost write one for me?  Love reading your posts and the Readers would be grateful too.

    Thanks for all your wonderful posts.

    • #7
  8. Quietpi Member
    Quietpi
    @Quietpi

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    This post demonstrates why pResident Biden is worse than President Carter — and that is saying something.

    Not only that, but he is worse than Clinton.

    I think more interesting would be to compare him to Wilson, but more instructive to us today would be to compare this administration with Obama’s.  Or, maybe to determine if there’s any difference at all, or if they’re in fact a continuum, only interrupted by that Trump glitch?  And that of course raises the question of who is running this train wreck, anyway?  It sure as heck isn’t Brandon.  He couldn’t run a lemonade stand.

    I’m becoming more sure that I know who the real conductor is.  With that in mind, I propose a new name for the present fiasco:  The Obamden Administration.

    I thought about spelling it, “Obamdin,” but thought that was going too far.  For right now, anyway.

    (I recently learned from a RR retiree friend that the conductor is actually the boss of the train.  The engineer just takes orders and blows the horn.)

    (Of course, blowing the horn is pretty cool.)

    • #8
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    TempTime (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    This post is part of the March Group Writing Theme: “Now and Then.”

    There are two major monthly Group Writing projects. One is the Quote of the Day project, managed by @ she. This is the other project, in which Ricochet members claim one day of the coming month to write on an announced theme. This is an easy way to expose your writing to a general audience, with a bit of accountability and topical guidance to encourage writing for its own sake.

    @ cliffordbrown , are you available for hire to ghost write one for me? Love reading your posts and the Readers would be grateful too.

    Thanks for all your wonderful posts.

    Thank you, and we would love to read your own words or even see a few photos on the theme. 

    • #9
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