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The Great Thug and the Little Thug

Due to their aggressive actions and threats, Russia and Turkey might justly be labelled the “Great Thug” and the “Little Thug.”

Regime rallies in Iran are filled with crowds yelling “Death to the Great Satan and Death to the Little Satan.” The Great Satan, of course, is the U.S., and the Little Satan is Israel.

The attack by Russian military contractors on U.S. forces in Syria and the threats by Turkey’s President Erdogan to invade Aegean islands assigned to Greece by the peace agreements after WWI are just the most recent actions of what might justly be labelled “the Great Thug” and “the Little Thug.”

That Putin and Erdogan are thugs is beyond dispute. Just ask the people of Georgia, Estonia, Ukraine, and Afrin in Syria, not to mention the thousands of their own subjects in prison or murdered. The main differences between the two are that Russia has nuclear weapons and other advanced weaponry and Turkey does not. Russia also has a dictator who is clever and resourceful, and Turkey has a dictator who is stupid and a blowhard.

What is a fertile subject of dispute, however, is the outrageous lack of any appropriate response to their thuggery on the part of the so-called Western World. A certain amount of tut-tutting and some economic sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and organizations is about it. Russia is still treated like a respectable and responsible international actor, and Turkey is still treated by the US and Europe as a NATO ally!

It is Munich 1938 and Tehran 2015 all over again. The longer the great and little thugs are allowed to continue their bullying, the more they will be tempted to continue and worsen their behavior. Is it indeed tragically true that “No one learns anything from history except that no one learns anything from history?”

It is good that substantial military assets have been moved by NATO to countries bordering Russia, especially the Baltic states and Poland. Also good is the willingness of the current administration in Washington to consider more effective military assistance to Ukraine.

But much more needs to be and should be done, especially in the areas of the use of cyber defense and offense vis-a-vis Russia, which constantly engages in cyber-attacks, as well as sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports.

In the case of Turkey, not only should NATO expel, or at least suspend Turkey, but tough sanctions should be applied to Turkish officials, organizations, and exports. Toleration of threats by Turkey against a fellow NATO member cannot be tolerated. Neither can Turkish military operations in neighboring countries, except with the permission of those countries.

The Great Thug and the Little Thug can be and should be severely punished for their actions. Letting them get away with them is not tolerance or prudence, it is highly dangerous cowardly stupidity and will inevitably lead to even worse behavior in future. In March 1938, Britain and France signed away the rights of Czechoslovakia. In September 1939, 18 months later, after absorbing all of Czechoslovakia and Austria again with no significant reaction on the part of Britain and France and with the active collusion of the Soviet Union, Germany invaded Poland. Too little, too late, it all ended only too predictably in disaster.

This article was originally published by Globes.