Adam B. Schiff, America First, Barack Obama, Blob, George W. Bush, globalism, impeachment, NATO, North Atlantic treaty Organization, Our So-Called Foreign Policy, Russia, Senate impeachment trial, Trump, Ukraine
Ever since U.S.-Ukraine relations became front-page news as Russia began its military and paramilitary campaign against the former Soviet “republic” (and cradle of Russian civilization), and especially ever since American Presidents and lawmakers have sought to help Kyiv resist, I’ve been writing that whatever emotions this struggle stirs, U.S. leaders have never viewed Ukraine’s security as a remotely vital interest of the United States – and with good reason.
Located right on Russia’s doorstep, the country is impossible to defend without using nuclear weapons (and thus running the risk of nuclear war), and its multi-decade span under the Soviet thumb never had the slightest impact on America’s safety, independence, or well-being. Indeed, even a card-carrying globalist like former President Barack Obama has stated that precisely because Ukraine is a core interest of Russia’s but not of the United States, it’s “going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do.”
These observations have seemed especially important in recent months, as backers of impeaching President Trump have strenuously argued to the contrary. Indeed yesterday, in his formal presentation at Mr. Trump’s Senate trial, House Intelligence Committee and lead House Impeachment Manager Adam B. Schiff once more joined the chorus that has raised the stakes of protecting Ukraine considerably higher. The California Democrat endorsed a claim that Ukraine’s takeover by Russia would directly threaten America’s allies in the rest of Europe, and indeed, the U.S. homeland itself.
Quoting a previous impeachment witness (and eerily echoing a major argument for continuing to fight endless wars in the Middle East), Schiff declared, “The United States aids Ukraine and her people so that they can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”
Not that Schiff nor any impeachment supporters my research has come across has ever called for the logical – indeed, the essential – follow-on to their Ukraine analyses (urging the permanent stationing of major American military units on Ukraine soil to deter the Russians. And not that they’ve supported the Pentagon budget increases needed to deploy these forces without cannibalizing other missions). So it’s reasonable to conclude that their words amount to just so much bluster (and possibly Trump Derangement Syndrome).
At the same time, it’s important to note that there’s been no shortage of statements by Mr. Trump’s predecessors (including Obama) that draw connections between Ukraine’s fate and America’s.
For example, George W. Bush was a strong supporter of bringing Ukraine into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This step would legally commit Washington to come to Ukraine’s defense against outside aggression just as strongly as the United States is committed to come to the defense of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and other European allies whose security has long been deemed vital. And in 2008, the alliance officially endorsed this goal – though without any timetable or specific plan for achieving it.
In the context of endorsing greater efforts to help Ukraine strengthen its defenses, Obama himself in 2014 emphasized the importance of keeping NATO “open” to “countries that meet our standards and that can make meaningful contributions to allied security.” And in the same speech, he vowed, “we will not accept Russia’s occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea or any part of Ukraine.”
Further, although President Trump hasn’t been the biggest fan of Ukraine or NATO, his administration officially has kept the membership door open to Kyiv. Just as officially, and more diisturbingly, the United States still considers Ukraine a “strategic partner” and indeed actually calls “a strong, independent, and democratic Ukraine” a “vital interest.”
The big takeaway isn’t that my prior descriptions of U.S. policy toward Ukraine were flawed. (Although they were.) Instead, it’s that support for bringing Ukraine into NATO and saddling the United States with yet another security commitment it can’t meet without incurring the risk of nuclear attack is strong in both the Democratic and Republican wings of the intervention-happy, globalist foreign policy establishment. And unless the presidency continues to be held by leaders with powerful America First-type instincts, this Blob’s dangerous ambitions could well become reality.