Monday, January 24, 2022

The Case Against Ukraine

Following-up on Francis Fukuyama, "The Case for Ukraine."

Here's Patrick Buchanan, at the American Conservative, "Biden Should Close the Door to NATO":

In 2014, when Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to a U.S.-backed coup that ousted a pro-Russian regime in Kyiv by occupying Crimea, President Barack Obama did nothing. When Putin aided secessionists in the Donbas in seizing Luhansk and Donetsk, once again, Obama did nothing.

Why did we not come to the military assistance of Ukraine? Because Ukraine is not a member of NATO. We had no obligation to come to its aid. And to have intervened militarily on the side of Ukraine would have risked a war with Russia we had no desire to fight.

Last year, when Putin marshaled 100,000 Russian troops on the borders of Ukraine, President Joe Biden declared that any U.S. response to a Russian invasion would be restricted to severe sanctions. The U.S. would take no military action in support of Ukraine.

Why not? Because, again, Ukraine is not a member of NATO.

Clearly, by its inaction, America is revealing its refusal to risk its own security in a war with Russia over a Ukraine whose sovereignty and territorial integrity are not vital U.S. interests sufficient to justify war with the largest country on earth with its huge arsenal of nuclear weapons.

This is the real world.

And as Ukraine is not a NATO ally, and we are not going to invite it to become a NATO ally, Biden should declare so publicly, urbi et orbi, to remove Putin’s pretext for any invasion.

Biden has already declared that we will not put offensive weapons in Ukraine. If, by declaring that we have no intention of expanding NATO further east by admitting Ukraine or Georgia, we can provide Putin with an off-ramp from this crisis that he created, why not do it?

Speaking last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “They must understand that the key to everything is the guarantee that NATO will not expand eastward.”

If what Lavrov said is true—that the “key” for Moscow, the crucial demand, is that the eastward expansion of NATO halt, and Ukraine and Georgia never join the U.S.-led alliance created to contain Moscow—we ought to accede to the demand.

If this causes Putin to keep his army out of Ukraine, admitting the truth will have avoided an unnecessary war. If Putin invades anyway, the world will know whom to hold accountable.

The purposes of the Biden declaration would be simple: to tell the truth about what we will and will not do. To remove Putin’s pretext for war. To give Putin an off-ramp from any contemplated invasion, if he is looking for one.

A Russian invasion of Ukraine and the war that would inevitably follow would be a disaster for Ukraine and Russia, but also for Europe and the United States. It would ignite a second Cold War, the winner of which would be China, to whom Russia would be forced to turn economically and strategically.

Thus, to avert a war, Biden should declare what is the truth: “Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and neither we nor our allies have any intention or plans to bring Ukraine into NATO or to give Kyiv an Article 5 war guarantee.”...

Still more

Fukuyama's an idealist. He's famous for his seminal essay for the post-Cold War era, "The End of History."

Actually, as splashy as he was in 1989, history (the perennial pattern of conflict and war) did not end.  

Buchanan's a realist. The hardest of the hardest kind of realist isolationist. The only threats that matter are those challenging the "vital interests" of the nation, that is, threats to the very survival of the U.S. as a nation-state in the international system. 

And Buchanan's long been consistent on this: See, for example, "What Is America’s Goal in the World?"

And at NPR, "Pat Buchanan on Why He Shares Trump's Ideas on Foreign Policy."