Brown: How important is Ukraine to America?

Published 12:01 am Saturday, April 9, 2022

My home state of Louisiana is some 6,000 miles away from Kyiv, Donbas, Crimea and the Azov Sea. Yet, an overwhelming majority of Louisianians, along with most Americans, have no idea where these places are located. For that matter, most of us would have a difficult time pinpointing Ukraine itself on a map. So, here’s the question. Is protecting Ukraine worth risking a possible nuclear war for America and our allies?

For 70 years, Ukraine was a state operating within Russia-led USSR. America stood by and watched the murderous regime of Joseph Stalin force the starvation of some four million Ukrainian peasants. So why now has the Ukraine invasion become of such vital interest to the U.S.?

Historically, not only has Ukraine been a part of and held historic ties within the USSR dating back to the 18th Century; Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, says the two countries “are joined at the hip.” They share language; Russian media are popular in Ukraine; there are family ties; many Ukrainians work in Russia; and Russians have billions of dollars invested in Ukraine. “Their relationship is like the U.S.-U.K. special relationship,” Rojansky says.

But in recent years, Ukraine has been developing closer ties with the West, and even discussing joining NATO.  So, Ukraine has been trying to have it both ways; keeping a harmonious relationship with Russia, while flirting with and developing closer ties to European countries. And Vladimir Putin is certainly not happy with this arrangement.

The U.S. is concerned that Russia may use chemical or even nuclear weapons in their effort to retain control in this current fight. Chemical weapons were outlawed by both the Geneva Protocol and the United Nations going back over 100 years. Both sides, including America, used chemical weapons against their opponents in World War I. As far as nuclear weapons, the only country that has ever used them in wartime is America.

As far as the bombing of civilians in cities across Ukraine, history shows this to be a terrible consequence of war.  Columnist Pat Buchanan recently wrote: “While America did not introduce the bombing of cities-the British and Germans did that-America did perfect the carpet-bombing of cities like Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin and Tokyo.”  He could have added American carpet-bombing in Viet Nam.

Is there a moral obligation to aid a nation under attack?  A new Reuters/Ipsos poll indicates that most Americans are willing to help.  By a margin of 73% to 27%, voters across the country say the U.S. “must support democratic countries if they are being attacked.”  Sixty-five percent of voters support the view that what’s happening in Ukraine is definitely the business of the U.S.

Is there is a double standard in this reasoning? The president and members of Congress in both parties have expressed outrage at the suffering in Ukraine. But let’s just put it on the table. The same brutality is taking place in numerous Middle East and African countries. Not much concern over catastrophes happening in Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia and Darfur.  There are recent reports that in Myanmar, where thousands of citizens have been killed, soldiers throw babies onto bonfires for sport.  In Rwanda, some 700,000 killings took place a few years back where whole tribes were hacked to death with machetes.  A cynic might just say that in Ukraine, the victims are considered white Europeans.

I think it’s critical to U.S. interests that we recognize the Russian attack on Ukraine has serious international consequences. Putin himself is an unguided missile. If Russia captures Ukraine, then a number of other Eastern European countries are at risk including Poland.  A united front among NATO nations is important to America’s national security.

For now, America is picking and choosing its fights as to when and where it gets involved.  And by doing so, some other countries get left by themselves in the crossfire. So yes, we have contradictions in our foreign policy.  Columnist and Oregon politician Nick Kristof writes: “Yes, there’s a double standard, but it is better to inconsistently do the right thing than to consistently turn a cold shoulder to suffering.”  I don’t know how you feel. But I agree.

 

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

 

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  Readers can also review books by Jim Brown and many others he has published by going to http://www.thelisburnpress.com.