No president would have dreamed of waging war with Russia over them. Now, under the new NATO, we must. Joe Biden was affirming war guarantees General Eisenhower would have regarded as insane.
Secretary of State John Kerry says that in the Ukraine crisis, “All options are on the table.” John McCain wants to begin moving Ukraine into NATO, guaranteeing that any Russian move on the Russified east of Ukraine would mean war with the United States.
Is America really prepared to fight all of these wars that we are obligated by treaty to fight?
Soon, the United States is going to have to come to terms with this reality ― the unwillingness of the American people to fight the wars they are committed to fight by the American government.
Yet, the immediate problem is how to avoid a military confrontation or clash with Vladimir Putin’s Russia over Crimea, which almost no American wants.
Apparently, the West has decided to start down the sanctions road.
But where does that road lead?
While sanctions may cripple the Russian economy, will they break Putin? Did they break Castro? Did they break Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il? Did they break the Ayatollah? Does Putin look like someone who will respond to an economic squeeze by crying uncle?
Moreover, in this age of interdependence that America did so much to launch, sanctions are a two-edged sword.
If Ukraine cuts off oil, gas, water and electricity into a seceded Crimea, whose tourist trade is drying up, this could provoke Putin into invading Eastern Ukraine and seizing the lone land bridge onto the peninsula.
It could provoke Russia into cutting off imports from Ukraine, turning off the oil and gas, and calling in Ukraine’s debts. This would precipitate a default by Ukraine, without more Western aid than the $35 billion it is now estimated Kiev will need by 2016.
Are House Republicans willing to vote America’s share of that vast sum and make Ukraine a recipient of U.S. foreign aid roughly equal to what we provide annually to Israel and Egypt?
And if we severely sanction Russia, she could cut off oil and gas to Europe, cause a recession in the eurozone, and move closer to China.
Nixon’s great achievement was to split China off from Moscow. President Reagan’s great achievement was to preside over the conversion of the “evil empire” into a country where he was cheered in Red Square.
What our Greatest Generation presidents accomplished, our Baby Boomer presidents appear to have booted away.