Is The Ukraine Less Valuable Than Kuwait?
When Saddam Hussein moved into Kuwait and declared it part of Iraq, then President George H. W. Bush moved into action. He coalesced the world against Hussein (because he uniquely could) and mobilized the United Nations to declare Hussein’s actions intolerable. Then he did one more important thing. He backed up all the talk with action and drove Hussein out of Kuwait and back into Iraq using the American military. Then, he went home.
Why isn’t the same being considered when it comes to Russia’s actions in the Ukraine?
In a word—oil. Kuwait had it. We needed it. Not so with the Ukraine. Russia is the one with the energy needed in Europe, especially in Germany.
The United States really has nothing but political interest in the independence of another former Soviet state in eastern Europe. The US would never consider sending in supporting troops, especially after having just bolted from Afghanistan. But there are risks here, too.
Let’s say Putin invades and supplants the currently elected government in Kyiv with some puppet leader and places the Ukraine back under the Russian thumb. What’s next? Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—all NATO nations? Why the hell not? There will be no consequences to Putin for taking back the Ukraine, why not try to reassemble the Soviet Union?
There’s a simple answer and that answer is that the west must stand for something and it may as well get started because it is likely to be tested in Taiwan and the Middle East as well by China and Iran respectively. We don’t have to be the world’s policemen to mobilize world opinion against Putin and Xi. Either the U.S. and its allies stand for something or they do not. What’s it to be?
There is no threat short of military action that will get the Russians to back down. No amount of cancelling the Russian’s credit cards will serve the purpose of making it clear to Putin that this will not stand and that the free nations of Europe—all of them—have a right to self-determination. Furthermore, if it is in NATO’s best interest to include the Ukraine, so be it. Who the heck is Putin to say otherwise?
It is time for Joe Biden to man up. Perhaps it was Bush 41’s war time experience that made him uniquely positioned to challenge an invading force that sought to disrupt the world order. That’s what is occurring on the border of the Ukraine right now.
It is also likely that a similar challenge will obtain in the Pacific once President Xi has had enough of an independent Taiwan and invades. We may not win a war with China, but China will not be untouched by a battle on their turf. Am I sounding a bit too martial for my liberal friends? Perhaps. But I truly believe there are bad guys in the world and Putin is one of them and Xi is another. They want to be on an equal footing with the United States but do so with autocracy rather than honest competition.
The question for Mr. Biden is will he or will he not seek to mobilize a coalition of the willing to oppose Putin and later Xi, because it’s coming.
These bad guys are dealing with big problems at home and would like nothing more than to distract their people with the threat of an outside force.
I’ll leave the planning to the military. They will know what to do, but it will take more than economic sanctions to stop Putin just as it took more than threats to stop Hussein. President Bush figured that out. Can Mr. Biden and can he mobilize the west to oppose this? We’ll see.