I have hesitated to actively encourage the United States and other nations from becoming directly involved in repelling the Russian invasion of Ukraine for a couple of reasons. I am going to change my opinion—not that anyone cares what I would think, since to Democrats I’m a useless fundamentalist and to me, the Republican Party ceased to be a viable option when they chose not to have a party platform in 2020 and went with “Whatever Donald Trump Wants” as the motto. That’s the first step toward tyranny: adherence to personalities over principles. And it historically tends to start when you like the principles of the personality so you have to oppose good things now to avoid horrible things later. Few people choose bad principles first; usually, they choose the expedient path to accomplish what they see as good and lose sight of reality.
Either way, my political views don’t amount to much more than a rapidly depleting hill of beans in their influence, but that’s neither here nor there.
So, my couple of reasons for not advocating directly involvement by other nations:
First, because I am asthmatic, I have never served in the military and cannot do so. I’ve tried and been rejected 3 times, once even got all the way to the physical and could not breathe well enough to get a “your asthma isn’t too bad” waiver. Since sending the United States Army or Marines into a shooting war involves no risk to me (or my children, as they are not in the service, either), I do not think I should be quick to advocate sending others into harm’s way. Because this is a reality of war: people die and people suffer. Probably if you let veterans of war vote, you would find peace a much more preferable option. So, in deference to those with an up-close risk, I have not wanted to say “somebody else should go die for Ukraine.”
Second, there is the very real likelihood that if other nations get involved in Ukraine, we will see the cascading expansion of the war like World War One started: small conflict, got bigger, engulfed a lot of nations. The possibility that other nations could equip Ukraine to handle the invasion and then see Russia depart seems better for the world overall.
However: we need to remember how World War Two started while we try to avoid going down the path of World War One: an aggressor nation, seeking to reclaim its former glory and empire, began by conquering its nearby, smaller neighbors. Those neighbors appealed to stronger nations for assistance and received none on the grounds of avoiding the cascading growth of the war.
That aggressor nation then committed atrocities like the Holocaust and millions of other murders as part of their overall strategy of conquest and it cost hundreds of thousands of lives to end that war. The leadership of nations like the United Kingdom and France were leery of getting into another situation like the trenches of World War One. Many of them had fought there. It was not wrong to be hesitant.
It was wrong to trade the lives of others thinking that a bloodthirsty aggressor would be satisfied. He was not, neither was his circle of advisers and supporters. The cost was too great.
Now, we have a hesitancy based off of years in Iraq and Afghanistan (wars whose situation we’ll leave aside for now) and the memory of Vietnam, the ongoing conflict in Korea. All of these lead to the question: is it worth it?
The answer we should be seeing more and more clearly. The answer is yes.
This is not an empire-building crusade by the European Union or NATO. (And the UN is always too weak to do much and the pairing of Russia and China will prevent them from doing anything.) This is about right and wrong.
You may ask…but what about when Putin and Russia invaded Syria? Or what about this wrong that we left unaddressed?
I would hope you don’t mean that, having not done the right thing in the past, we are therefore obligated to never do the right thing in the future.
Meanwhile, what could be done? That’s a question for professionals, but I would wager a pack of bacon that there are military personnel who could walk to a file cabinet and pull out a stack of options.
It’s time to make that call and get those options.