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Put America First by Aiding Ukraine

March 30, 2023
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Neo-isolationists on the right and left dismiss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as of little consequence to the U.S. To them, it’s a territorial dispute between faraway countries. Some even allege that America is largely responsible for the war: By encouraging democracy’s spread in Eastern Europe, the U.S. unnerved Vladimir Putin. It’s understandable, they say, that the dictator then unleashed his military to subjugate Ukraine.

That’s claptrap. Mr. Putin could have lived in peace with a democratic Ukraine just as Russia has coexisted for decades with neighboring democracies Finland and Norway. And the latter was one of the founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The blame for this war’s death and destruction lies squarely with the man in the Kremlin. It was Mr. Putin’s ambition to reconstruct Russia’s imperial empire that led Russia to seize Crimea in 2014 and invade the rest of Ukraine more than a year ago. 

Well either way, the neo-isolationists argue, sending weapons and economic assistance to Ukraine takes away America’s ability to meet our own needs. And, besides, we won’t be affected by the war’s outcome. 

More claptrap.

Ukraine’s heroic resistance to Russia, a power hostile to the U.S., has dramatically improved America’s strategic position world-wide. The Kremlin has become far weaker, while NATO, which includes many of our most trusted allies, has become far stronger and more united than it has been since the Cold War. But if Russia prevails in the war, that progress would be reversed. 

A Putin victory would also embolden some very nasty characters on the world stage, including North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Iran’s mullahs and China’s Xi Jinping. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenbergargues, “Beijing is watching closely and learning lessons that may influence its future decisions. So, what happens in Europe today could happen in Asia tomorrow.”

And Mr. Putin has made clear he’d prefer his bloody adventurism in Europe not to end in Ukraine. In addition to asserting in his July 2021 essay, “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” that the “true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia,” Mr. Putin suggested Lithuania, Moldova, Belarus, and parts of Poland and Slovakia were once integral parts of Russia. The strongman told us he wants to grab more territory, and several of his targets are NATO allies, which the U.S. has pledged by treaty to aid with our armed forces if they’re attacked. Neo-isolationists worry about what weapons and aid to Ukraine are costing America, but pulling our support risks American lives down the road.

There’s more than our strategic interests at stake. A Europe threatened by an aggressive, resurgent and hostile Russia isn’t in our economic interests, either. The European Union bought $349 billion of U.S. goods in 2022; our bilateral trading and investment relationship with the EU is the largest in the world. If Mr. Putin conquers Ukraine and demands fealty from European nations, it will result in fewer purchases of American exports.

Neo-isolationists on the right and left dismiss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as of little consequence to the U.S. To them, it’s a territorial dispute between faraway countries. Some even allege that America is largely responsible for the war: By encouraging democracy’s spread in Eastern Europe, the U.S. unnerved Vladimir Putin. It’s understandable, they say, that the dictator then unleashed his military to subjugate Ukraine.

That’s claptrap. Mr. Putin could have lived in peace with a democratic Ukraine just as Russia has coexisted for decades with neighboring democracies Finland and Norway. And the latter was one of the founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The blame for this war’s death and destruction lies squarely with the man in the Kremlin. It was Mr. Putin’s ambition to reconstruct Russia’s imperial empire that led Russia to seize Crimea in 2014 and invade the rest of Ukraine more than a year ago. 

Read More at the WSJ

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