Mike Pence's 'Berlin Airlift'

Former vice president Mike Pence, channeling his Harry Truman, told Fox News that "we need an Berlin Airlift for the 21st century" that would "marshal the resources of the free world to make sure the beleaguered people of Ukraine suffering under this invasion have the food and the water, and the medicine they need to prevail."  He also called for the transfer of MiG fighter jets in Poland to Ukraine.

This is how regional wars escalate into world wars.  And, contrary to Pence's attempt at headline-grabbing, Ukraine today is not West Berlin of 1948.

The United States and the other occupying powers of a divided Germany and the divided city of Berlin had negotiated occupying zones and access rights to West Berlin at the World War II meetings of the "Big Three" (Stalin, Churchill, and FDR/Truman) as the war came to an end in Europe.  When the Soviet Union blatantly violated those agreements by cutting off ground (including rail and water) access to West Berlin, the United States and Britain used transport planes flying air corridors from western Germany to enforce our rights under those agreements by airlifting supplies (food and fuel) to the citizens of West Berlin.  Some of Truman's civilian and military advisers suggested using ground forces to break the blockade, but Truman wisely chose a less confrontational approach, recognizing that the Soviets had geographical and military advantages on the ground in Berlin (which was surrounded by the Soviet-controlled sector of eastern Germany).

The Berlin Airlift was a dazzling success.  American and allied planes delivered tons of food and non-military supplies to West Berliners.  We pierced the "iron curtain" to maintain our access rights to the city and avoided World War III.  And after about eleven months, the Soviets lifted the blockade.

Berlin in 1948 was a Cold War zone, whereas Ukraine today is a kinetic or "hot" war zone, where Russian military forces are fighting Ukrainian forces.  Our military forces and personnel were on the ground in West Berlin, and we were a "combatant" in the Cold War then taking shape in Central Europe in 1948.  In Ukraine today, we are not a combatant in this kinetic war, nor should we be.  Yet Pence would have U.S. aircraft fly the skies of Ukraine in the midst of a war.  This would be as foolish and almost as dangerous as trying to establish a no-fly zone, as has been recommended by other war hawks.  And in 1948, the Soviet Union did not have atomic weapons, and we did.  Today, they have more nuclear weapons than we do.  That makes a difference.  And in 1948, the American president was not calling for regime change in Russia, but our current president carelessly and recklessly did so the other day.

America's political leaders and would-be political leaders need to be more careful with their words and their policy proposals.  Mindless ad libs by President Biden about regime change in Russia, idiotic suggestions about assassinating Vladimir Putin by Senator Lindsey Graham, provocative proposals by "statesmen" for no-fly zones, and now Mike Pence's "Berlin Airlift" remarks get their proponents plenty of press coverage, but they may also get us into a broader European war.  No headline is worth that.

Image: DoD.

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