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Rethinking Ukraine’s War

Posted on Tuesday, November 1, 2022
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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31 Comments
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War

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict is growing complicated, beginning to look like a forever war, truth harder to parse each month. While Russia was dead wrong to invade Ukraine’s sovereignty – a development Biden did not deter, and arguably green-lighted – the war is radiating outward. Caution is important.

Why should we show caution? Five reasons – as horrific events continue. The horrors of this conflict remind us what war is really like – and what would happen should this war expand. Already we have seen indiscriminate killing of civilians, crimes against humanity, a nuclear power plant in jeopardy, mass graves, children being taken from Ukraine, re-educated, and put up for adoption in Russia.

All this is horrific, and to be sure we answered a moral call to help. But caution is warranted.

First – think costs. The rate of federal spending cannot continue, or Americans will find themselves back in another unending Afghanistan – no strategic justification, no attack on America, just satisfying Biden’s desire to push Putin, insecure after he invited Putin to a “little incursion,” and failed America in Afghanistan.

The overall cost to the American taxpayer, less than most European countries close to the tragedy, already tops $15 billion – defending a non-NATO country, no strategic significance, except a buffer between Russia and NATO, perhaps conveying to China we might step up for Taiwan.

Americans face devastatingly high costs for heating oil this winter. That number would cover much of the spike in US heating requirements, well beyond the expected price jumps across New England. But comparisons are never made, money is just spent, and no sense of failure abroad means added pain at home.

Second – think endgame. Ukrainians are standing up for their homeland, defending their sovereignty, and repelling the injustice of Putin’s invasion, and that is noble, good, and worthy of support. But what is the endgame? How much, how long, what endgame, and why? Do we really need another endless war?

Yes, Ukraine is deserving, but there are limits. Like funding NATO without parallel commitments, this effort begins to drain resources from other mission-critical requirements and seems increasingly political rather than security-centered, on track to continue delivering an expensive black eye to Putin. Is that reason enough?

Third – think corruption. Ukraine has been a black hole for foreign money, in years past – corruption endemic, the way corruption is in countries with weak institutions, organized crime, poorly policed, and in lengthy transition. Ukraine is officially the second most corrupt country in Europe, some might say first.  This reality is being ignored, and some suspect US money may be drawn into that black hole.

Fourth – think antisemitism. Antisemitism is a historical feature of Ukraine and Russia, long a part of their society. So the idea that all hands are clean is slightly misplaced. This issue is being gingerly handled, politically soft-shoed, right now. Still, it is there. The reality is that Ukraine has not been a bastion of equality.

Fifth – think of geopolitical precedent. The real truth is, if our nation’s future and national security depended on it, then cost, ambiguous endgame, weak rule of law, and cultural prejudices might be set aside to fight to the death. That was WWI and WWII and could happen again. But that is not now.

If we set a precedent that, without any direct attack on the US, historic, NATO, or established allied commitment or historic connection, we are willing to drain our treasury, spend without limit, swallow endemic corruption in those defended, and overlook humanitarian issues, where does that lead?

The real answer is, we need to either get others engaged at a level that brings the conflict to a decisive end, not causing us to finance the better part of the battlespace, or we need to start pulling back. The costs, lack of endgame, endemic corruption, cultural prejudices, complexity of conflict, ambiguity of strategic significance, and competing needs are now tipping the balance.  

To be clear, China knows we will fight for Taiwan – if we will fight for Ukraine. We have held that as undeclared policy for decades, not least because Taiwan would be the first of many Chinese conquests. They would jump from that attack to other US allies in the region, if not stopped.

Bottom line: Wars cost, and endless wars cost endlessly until those financing them go broke. Someday, we may need to fight to the death again, as we have had to before, but Ukraine is not the Hill to die on.

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PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

I’ll try to address your article in as simple terms as possible. Joe Biden mismanaged American foreign policy around the world from Day One of his administration and he continues to do so to this day. Virtually everything he and his administration did on the world stage set the conditions for Putin to invade Ukraine. From Biden’s horrific exodus from Afghanistan, leaving hundreds of Americans and thousands upon thousands of Afghani allies behind, along with $85 billion dollars in weapons and a vital American airbase at Bagram to the Chinese to setting a match to every allied relationship we have around the world. Biden and his administration did everything but wave a bright green light in Putin’s direction that he had the go ahead to move on Ukraine or any other former Soviet satellite state. For that matter Biden and his administration did the exact same thing with respect to President Xi in China regarding Taiwan, Little Kim in North Korea regarding his immediate neighbors and the Mullahs in Iran regarding the Middle East.

It is no secret that everyone that makes up Biden’s foreign policy team is from the appeasement crowd that served under Obama. Our enemies around the world know what they are dealing with and are acting exactly as one would expect under the circumstances. Whether ir be foreign policy or international business relationships, weakness always invites aggression and the United States under this administration just oozes weakness and fear. Our allies see that as well and have begun, in many cases, to re-evaluate international relationships accordingly. Many are now openly exploring closer ties with the CCP and China as a result. Look at the various members of NATO and some of their recent discussions with China.

As to our military, it is being systematically undermined on multiple fronts by this administration that chooses to focus on proper pronouns and SJW nonsense over military readiness and unit cohesion. Which is why President Xi set a revised deadline for bringing Taiwan back under control of the CCP by 2027. Everyone around the world, both our allies and our enemies, understand what the Biden administration and the Democrats are doing to the United States and they are ALL acting accordingly. Only the American people seem to be somewhat unaware and unconcerned about the ramifications we will be facing as a result.

Dan W.
Dan W.
1 year ago

“To be clear, China knows we will fight for Taiwan – if we will fight for Ukraine.”

Really ??

Based on our response to Russia so far, have you then concluded that if China invaded Taiwan tomorrow, we would do nothing militarily and that Taiwan would be conquered in a matter of weeks ?

Barbara Dawn
Barbara Dawn
1 year ago

We cannot condemn Ukraine for their corruption. Look at the mess we have here!! Even our highest law enforcement entities are now politicized! We have no room to judge them on that topic.

Steven
Steven
1 year ago

Let’s not get to cautious, $15, 30, 60 billion is a cheap price to pay to deliver a war criminal a major setback and protect the rest of Europe. The rest of Europe is frankly unable to provide the weapons and support that we can. Yes, Ukraine has problems, so do many emerging countries. Point one, Russia is the invader. Point two, Putin needs to go. Point three, we need to have resolve.

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

Russia is little or no threat to US! Let the Europeans, who literally made deals with the devil(Putin) by getting hooked on their gas and oil, shoulder the load. Trump tried to tell them but they laughed at him. Who’s laughing now?

Leslie Jones
Leslie Jones
1 year ago

If you want to send a message to China about our willness to fight for Taiwan, quit supporting Ukraine. The Chinese will understand that, as several times before, the US can turn victory into defeat by getting the colliwobbles and pulling out.
For heaven’s sake let’s see this one out. The net result so far is a major shakeup to one of our worst opponents, Russia. Not only are they getting a bloody nose in Ukraine but Nato has expanded into their “cordon insulare” in the Baltic.
The world now knows that Russia is a country run by a packet of billionaires skimming from the government at every opportunity. It’s exalted military is a sham: lousy equipment, shallow ability to manufacture arms in depth and headed by a guy who only listens to good news. Surely real Russians are ready for a real government built on the rights of all Russians. By keeping up the pressure, perhaps we can help them find themselves.
Now is definitely not the time to give up on Ukraine.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

QUIT SENDING OUR AMMUNITION, DIESEL, and NITROGEN (FOR OUR FARMERS) to Ukraine including OUR MONEY.
Ukraine President in September asked COMMUNIST CHINA to REBUILD
Ukraine. FAKE News DIDN’T report that.
DICTATOR Beijing biden SURRENDERED in Afghanistan getting AMERICANS KILLED and GAVE TERRORIST $86 BILLION in WEAPONS and EQUIPMENT but
FINANCES the Ukraine war.

patriot
patriot
1 year ago

Under Trump, America exuded strength and our enemies refrained from taunting us, using the same maxim Ronald Reagan coined, “Peace Through Strength”.
Under Bidum America exudes weakness, confusion and a total loss of Constitutional purpose.
For 2 years, we’ve had anarchy, rioting, killing and large areas of our major cities destroyed by fire.
This was like waving a sign to Putin, Xi and others that America today under Biden is distracted, weak and vulnerable. The Biden’s have shown they only want to increase their personal wealth at citizens expense.
We live in the nuclear age and our enemies all have nuclear capability. America has poked Putin in the eye by defending Ukraine. No one knows what Putin’s plan is or how many lives he is willing to take to achieve it. There have been some questions regarding his health that could affect his outlook on war. If one doesn’t have long to live, he might go nuclear! We should be cognizant of everything!

Casey C Matt
Casey C Matt
1 year ago

So now the whining about innocent civilians begins?? Strange how no mention was made of the thousands of innocent civilians killed by the Ukraine military that were citizens of the eastern provinces that identified as Russian and voted for independence. No mention is made of the people trapped in the Odessa union building and then burned to death by the “patriotic Nazis” that make up the hear of the Ukraine military and who, with CIA funding and direction overthrew the democratically elected president of Ukraine in 2014.
So, blindly continue your “Putin Bad” ignorant narrative….after all the good ole USA would never initiate an unwarranted conflict….just ask any Iraq, Libyan, Afghani, Syrian, Lebanese, Serbian, I could go on and on. A nation with a currency backed by nothing runs on war and the goods of the defeated……….God bless America.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

COMMUNIST CHINA’S GOAL is
DESTROY the UNITED STATES and
REPOPULATE it with CHINESE .
FACT.
One of their current WEAPONS is
TikTok. In COMMUNIST China, which OWNS TikTok, teaches their children to Respect Families and Teaches Education.
In the UNITED STATES, TikTok is used for making kids do STUPID SUICIDAL STUNTS and HATE FAMILIES including HATE EDUCATION.
EVERY BIT of INFORMATION from using TikTok on your cellphones or computer GOES straight to COMMUNIST CHINA’S INTELLIGENCE AGENCY giving them ACCESS to EVERYTHING INCLUDING YOUR
BANK ACCOUNTS with DICTATOR Beijing biden’s blessing.
Those that do their homework know this is a FACT.
FASCISTBOOK (Facebook) is NO DIFFERENT than TikTok.

Insanitysquared
Insanitysquared
1 year ago

One thing I like what the Team Biden is doing is this Ukraine war. I understand the human suffering and all – but let us set it aside. By continuing the war where the Ukrainians and the Russians are fighting, we are weakening the Russians. So many Russians are leaving their country, so many are dying on the battlefield. Russia is a strategic enemy to the United States. It did not have to be that way, but we are where we are. Those former brotherly nations are slaughtering each other. I say let them continue as long as they want. Terrible as it sounds, we can benefit from it. We strengthen the NATO alliance, we can get millions of refugees who will help Europe and the USA demographically, and – at the same time – we weaken Russia. It is a dangerous game of poker where the stakes are increasing but we gotta keep playing it whether we like it or not.

Next, we need to think about how we are going to deal with the Chinese. As bad as the Russians are, the Chinese are a smarter, stronger, and a more dangerous potential enemy. We need to try to avoid conflict but, at the same time, we need to be prepared.

Dave
Dave
1 year ago

“…Russia was dead wrong to invade Ukraine’s sovereignty.” Anyone who believes this doesn’t know the whole story. Putin has been telling everyone, for at least the past ten years, that if the situation with Ukraine doesn’t improve he would invade.No one believed him.

David L
David L
1 year ago

I do not believe Putin is afraid of Biden. Putin has a distrust of the Democrats which he feels are not trustworthy and corrupt. After years of pursuing Trump on the false Steele dossier on Russian collusion that Hillary and DNC paid for how can Putin trust anything the Democrats do. There must be some reason the United States is in Ukraine which is not apparent. Hunter Biden has a close connection in the Ukraine and was paid millions of dollars in business dealings. Perhaps there is too much incriminating information on the Biden family which needs to be covered up. There are also biological laboratories funded by the United States to develop biological weapons. And, there may be more which we do not know about.

joe mchugh
joe mchugh
1 year ago

Robert Charles seems to have missed the big picture as far as American involvement in the Ukraine war. Charles cites the enormous costs involved with assisting the Ukrainians to resist Russian aggression. The United States spends just over 2% of our GDP on our defense efforts. Our economy is far greater than that of the Russian Federation.

This is the thing, The United States can continue to support Ukraine well past the point that Russia will be forced to capitulate in its invasion against Ukraine. We supply the weapons and associated materials, while Ukraine pays for its right to sovereignty with the blood of its citizens, (soldiers and civilians).

Robert Charles completely misses the benefits that the U.S. gains in this war. Russia is actually degrading as a world power. Some analists believe that Russia’s economy has already been set back at least ten years, the longer the conflict, the more deterioration to the Russian economy. The best part? No American soldiers are being injured, or killed in bringing Russia down a peg.

Our deficit spending? The American dollar is the preferred currency in world trade. Compared to other money systems our dollar is king. Other countries are abusing their money systems even worse than we are. In fact the dollar indexed against foreign currencies is over 111 points right now. A 100 point level would be an optimal one.

The national debt? Our national debt is over 30 trillion dollars and rapidly climbing. So what?
It could be over 60 trillion dollars and the average American wouldn’t notice personal problems.
Psst! The Federal Reserve, complicit with the Treasury of the United States has discovered a neat bookkeeping trick, namely the printing of money out of thin air! I haven’t noticed anyone bringing a law suit against the government for such outrageous behavior. If people were really concerned about our national debt they would vote for conservative candidates who call for reducing the size of government. Yeah, when was the last time ANY candidate promised to work to cut the costs associated with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid? These are the major anchors on our economy. No candidate will even talk about touching those sacred cows. The cost of helping in the Ukraine war? A drop in the proverbial bucket.

Steven B
Steven B
1 year ago

We should get out of NATO. It is becoming useless alliance. The US is the lion share of the fight. It seems most of our resources and aid is on the wrong hemisphere. Why? We are neglecting our own hemisphere. Why? Whatever happened to the Monroe Doctrine? Our neighborhood isn’t Ukraine or Taiwan or even Europe. Our hemisphere is really a mess with our own corruption.

Thomas Wuthrich
Thomas Wuthrich
1 year ago

The “endgame” must be to make sure that the aggressive tyrant Putin not be rewarded for his aggression. No, China does NOT know that we will fight for Taiwan. Xi and the other bad actors of the world are closely watching what transpires in Ukraine to gauge what we might do. If we fold in Ukraine, for whatever reason, others will be emboldened. Xi will be more likely to invade Taiwan. In a dangerous world, it is truly our misfortune to have as Commander-in-Chief, the utterly incompetent Joe Biden, leading the newly “woke” military he created. But if America reverses course now by cutting off military aid to Ukraine or demanding that Ukraine relinquish territory in return for peace, it will not make us any safer in the long run. As for the writer’s 4th point, President Zelenskyy is Jewish!

Lyl Amundson
Lyl Amundson
1 year ago

This is utter nonsense!!!

Jim J
Jim J
1 year ago

With flagrant war crimes blatantly evident why is the UN quiet. Trump was right to try to get us out of the UN

Roger Taylor
Roger Taylor
1 year ago

I have family in Ukraine – It is a sovereign nation attacked by an invader . We will not stand by and watch like we did WW2 . If Russia was invaded you think they would not fight . I hate war – but we must take a stand for freedom of Ukraine ! Yes i know the history of Ukraine , they became free nation !

James Price
James Price
1 year ago

Putin’s often-stated ambition is to rectify the great injustice as he sees it of the collapse of the Soviet Union by reestablishing it, beginning with the Ukraine. Hitler was not satisfied with a piece of Czechoslovakia, and “peace in our time” will not be realized by allowing Putin to take all or part of the Ukraine. You can gage the seriousness of Putin’s ambition by the fact that neutral-forever Sweden and neutral-for-a-long-time Finland are now asking for NATO membership.

Nuclear war is as adverse to Russia as it for everyone else, and, in this case, a bit more. Using tactical nuclear bombs on Ukrainian troops will almost certainly irradiate Russian troops and adjacent Russia. Think Chernobyl, and that was just a reactor accident. If Putin cannot connect those dots, the upper echelon of the Russian military can.

Yes, this war has been expensive, but look at what it bought for the Western democracies. The Russian military has been significantly eroded in troops and equipment. In other words, Russia’s ability to threaten and attack further has been significantly eroded.

Finally, this war appears to be unpopular in Russia with the unprecedented number of defections among military-age men. Maybe, just maybe, when the Russian people digest the humanitarian and political cost of Putin’s farce, history in Europe may come to an end or at least a longer pause.

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