President Biden Is Right to Put Diplomacy First And Avoid Threats of Military Conflict in Ukraine Crisis
The U.S. going into a major regional conflict with Russia over Ukraine would be devastating. Our country is barely out of the pandemic that put us deeper in national debt. The U.S. is still rebounding economically.
We are in the midst of high inflation that no one really knows how long it will take to settle down. The country is already overburdened with uncertainty and anxiety. Imagine how much more a conflict with Russia, arguably the second or third strongest world superpower (at least militarily) would add to the stressors of life Americans are already having to cope with.
The U.S. war in Afghanistan had just ended last year. It started in 2001 and most Americans from political analysts and across demographic spectrum would agree that the U.S. war in Afghanistan was a huge mistake. So was our military action against Iraq and Syria.
The justification for these wars – that lasted 20 years – of stopping terrorism from reaching U.S. shores was far more compelling and urgent than the Ukraine-Russia regional situation unfolding. And 20 years later, we have regret. Haven’t we learned that we cannot be entering all regional conflicts that arise?
Economists say that today we’re still paying for the 20-year Middle East wars on terror. A report from the Costs of War project at Brown University revealed that 20 years of post-9/11 wars have cost the U.S. an estimated $8 trillion and have killed more than 900,000 people.
The war on terror has been complex, devastating and a failure. And a potential conflict with a major super power as Russia would likely be even more complex, devastating, and in the end a failure of epic proportion that future Americans would see as a mistake and misadventure into regional conflict that we should have avoided.
War-hawks are already justifying a war with Russia, saying it’s the year 2022 and we cannot be having a country invade another country without military consequence.
Yes, it is 2022, and we also shouldn’t be risking so much over a conflict that isn’t of major strategic importance to the U.S.
At most, Ukraine is a geographic buffer that separates Russia from NATO countries. If going to war over a buffer state (which is what’s really at risk, not to save Ukraine’s democracy, as war hawks are saying) then let these NATO countries that are really far more at risk, take on most of the burdens of war, financially and with a greater proportion of their own troops.
It’s absurd that war hawks are even mentioning Ukraine’s democracy, of saving it, as justification for entering a conflict. First, that “domino effect” theory that propelled us to enter and go to war with Vietnam is already discredited. We’ve since learned that countries must find their own way and determine their own self-governance at their own pace. Another example besides Vietnam is our latest intervention in Afghanistan. As soon as the U.S. left, the Taliban (not a pro-democracy force by any stretch) took over.
Second, how insincere for these same Americans who would want to risk a war with Russia over “democracy” be blind to our own country’s threat to democracy. Shouldn’t we be dealing with these threats to democracy in our own backyard first?
The typical war hawk traditionally in the U.S. has been the staunch Republican. If Republicans happen to be pounding the war drums in this latest potential conflict over “saving democracy” (as they always have been doing to justify all conflicts) they should be reminded that they themselves as a party are the biggest threats to democracy here in the U.S. The examples are too abundant and fresh to point out here.
Correct course at this time
While military intervention would be a disastrous mistake, the U.S. and NATO allies should be very firm and resolute about exacting trade and economic sanctions that will hurt Russia if Putin decides to invade Ukraine.
If Russia decides to take further extreme action like going beyond Ukraine in hopes of recapturing former Soviet states, or Russia directly attacks NATO-member nations for exacting trade and economic sanctions over Ukraine – now then, should that happen, a military option should be considered. President Joe Biden is smart for not talking about potential military options at this stage. His emphasis on finding diplomatic solutions and at a worst case scenario exacting economic sanction are reasonable.
The last scenario the U.S. would want at this stage is for Biden to make a threat of military action then not actually be prepared to follow through on such threats should Russia actually invade Ukraine. That would discredit the U.S. stature and standing as a world super power.
President Biden has said the right things and have made appropriate, calculating, reasonable threats that the U.S. can commit to at this stage. He, and Congress, must move forward with extreme caution. After all, we’re dealing with another super power with nuclear weapons.
Biden and NATO allies are also right to engage in person-to-person, high-level discussions with Vladimir Putin. French President Emmanuel Marcon already met with Putin. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is scheduled to do the same. As a group, NATO must exhaust all and every diplomatic solution to avoid conflict.
We hope that Putin, as he has said to French President Marcon, that Russia will not escalate the Ukraine crisis.