Why Ukraine Matters
Despite assurances from President Obama that the USA is doing all it can to assist the Ukraine in their hour of desperation, it comes up far short of the actual aid needed. No one, save a few war Hawks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are advocating for US boots on the ground. It is worth noting that these aforementioned men likely have diverse financial portfolio’s packed with stock options in some of the military’s leading defense firms.
When President Obama went to the leaders of our various allies with the plea that a military strike was necessary to quell the upheaval in Syria, most of those nations balked. When Obama turned to the American people and finally the US Congress, he was greeted with a cold shoulder. Why? The simple answer is that Americans and our allies were and are war weary. We have spent over a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one wanted to send troops or military supplies to a group in Syria who looked a great deal like the Al Qaeda we had spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives to fight.
I was one of the proponents of the “Stay out of Syria” movement. We had no business in another Muslim country who loved our military and financial support but hated us as a people. What good would have come from toppling one evil rogue leader to replace him with an equally evil rogue leader? We tried this in Libya and were rewarded with the murder of our US Ambassador and three other brave Americans for our efforts.
The situation in the Ukraine is different. We are not dealing with Muslim terrorist groups killing each other. We are dealing with a Democratic Ukrainian government that is now pro-western. This change was a shock and a slap in the face to the Russians who until the ouster of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych, had maintained control through his puppet government. The people of Ukraine joined together to overthrow the oppressive regime and replace it with democratically elected leadership. Russia was swift in its condemnation and swifter in their retribution, invading and taking Crimea.
The Arab Spring was the twinkle of Obama’s eye, along with his progressive friends. Just a short time earlier, there had been a democratic uprising after Iranian elections, Obama was eerily silent and made no effort to assist those fighting for democracy. Muslim extremist rip their country apart and Obama rushes aid to their cause. He was instrumental in the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power in Egypt, albeit for a short time. Not one single country involved in the Arab Spring has moved forward to a stable form of government.
Ukraine wishes to join the ranks of other former Soviet nations. Like Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, they hope to join NATO and the EU. Their desire to become members of a democratic society should be something Americans embrace. So, why have we give only lip service to their desperate pleas for help?
The Russians are nothing more than serial arsonist bent on burning the world down until it is nothing but ashes beneath their communist boots. Then they will plant the seeds of communism and watch as a new Soviet Union emerges. No one is advocating sending American troops to aid the Ukrainians, but rather that we send in a few sprinklers and fire hoses. Sure, men like Graham and McCain will counter that we should send our fire fighters too, but they are in the minority. Americans should wish to help Ukrainians put out this fire or at least contain it from spreading. If your neighbor’s house was on fire would you not try to help put it out or at least prevent it from spreading to your own house? You may believe the conflict in the Ukraine is far from impacting America, but you would be wrong.
Economics is a simple concept on some levels and complex on many others. If demand rises while supply remains constant, it is a sure bet that price will increase. Russia ships the lion share of natural gas to Europe through the nation of Ukraine. If conflict continues those supply lines are likely to be disrupted causing fuel prices to further skyrocket. Americans are already screaming about the price of gas at the pumps, and with our never ending winter, heating costs are rising. If you think $3-$4 for gas is high, imagine it twice that price. This is but one scenario in a sea of many others which are likely to play out if circumstances are not soon changed.
More importantly the risks are connected to all current and future demands related to nuclear weapons. How can the US expect any nation to agree to work with them on weapons treaties when it is clear the guarantees of the US and the UK are meaningless? In February 1994, President Clinton, President Yeltsin, Prime Minister Major, and President Kuchma all agreed on a deal for Ukraine to relinquish its’ Nuclear arsenal in exchange for specific safety guarantees.
Ukraine was the world’s third ranked nuclear power prior to this agreement. They possessed 176 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers and a reported 1240 nuclear warheads, along with thousands of tactical nuclear weapons. They were promised that Russia and all nations would agree to:
“Respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine…reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons would ever be used against Ukraine.”
Clearly, this agreement has not been upheld and stands as a stark reminder to other nations considering relinquishing or aborting nuclear weapons goals in exchange for guarantees from the United States, Great Britain, or any other nation. If we cannot be trusted to keep our word on matters of such significance, we are hardly in a position to offer any diplomatic solutions whatever they may intend. In short, the word of America is worthless if we ignore Ukraine’s plight.
Where there is smoke, there is fire…and America can see the smoke rising in the distance. Do not wait until the flames are lapping at your own door before you act. Resist the temptation to turn the news when you hear stories coming out of Ukraine. Vigilance only works if you watch for danger and then act. Putin may claim to be former KGB, but like the Marines say, “Once a Marine, always a Marine” and the same is true of the KGB. They may go by another name but the tactics and the goals are the same. Total domination at all cost.