Nobody wants another Afghanistan, or Iraq, or (for my generation) Vietnam. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t solid reasons to support Ukraine and other allies with arms and even training.
The main reason for supporting Ukraine, up to and including arms (without committing to go to war for her) is that we need to keep lines of communication open all over the world where we can. Russia has long-term designs and plans of empire. If Ukraine falls under Russian domination, then the fabled breadbasket of Europe is vulnerable. Putin needs to know, before push comes to shove, that his troops will face high-quality American arms if he pushes uninvited into Ukraine.
For the same reason, we have a deep interest in supporting Taiwan, Vietnam, and Australia in the South China Sea against Chinese predation, with a similar situation no one seems aware of slowly brewing in Panama. A Chinese hegemon controlling these regional choke points would be a major headache that the world would be watching to see if we did anything. Support of Ukraine now with weapons and training would signal Xi that he couldn’t count on us not doing something.
That uncertainty is gold.
It’s not popular today to talk about keeping the world safe for democracy, but that’s just another way of saying the world needs a dominant power, a sheriff, to set the broad terms of international business, diplomacy, currency exchange, laws of the sea, etc. Someone will take over that role if we let it lapse, and with it would go the many advantages that accrue to America as world hegemon. Does anyone really think that but for our presence, the Chinese wouldn’t already have taken over Taiwan or that North Korea wouldn’t again menace Japan?
We give up just too much to surrender the role of world sheriff. We want to be free to go pretty-much wherever we need to go. That freedom would not exist if we did not support our allies, up to and including arms – though not nukes.
By Jack Rail
Jack Rail is a retired Army officer who writes mostly when something gets his goat.
Featured photo is a screengrab from CNBC.