I encourage you to read Roman Popadiuk’s post at RealClearPolitics on why Ukraine matters. In it he sounds a number of the notes I have sounded here and which people seem so reluctant to take seriously. Perhaps they’ll believe them from a source other than myself. Mr. Popadiuk was our first ambassador to Ukraine. Here’s the meat of his argument:
U.S. backsliding on Ukraine will also embolden China to pursue its expansionist goals in Asia and help intensify Beijingâ€™s actions against Taiwan, including a possible invasion. The latter would test the U.S. policy of â€œstrategic ambiguityâ€ whereby the U.S. does not make clear whether or not we will defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. There is the possibility, therefore, that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan could bring the U.S. into direct conflict with China. It seems wise to stop this train of events by standing firm against the Russian aggression in Ukraine, thereby sending China a clear signal that U.S. resolve is strong.
How the U.S. acts in Ukraine will also send signals to the world on whether or not the U.S. can be depended upon for political, diplomatic, and economic support. Any weakening of the U.S. stance on Ukraine can lead countries to make accommodations with China, as well as Russia, and hasten greater China-Russia cooperation to undermine U.S. positions and standing in the world. China is already challenging U.S. and Western interests with its Belt and Road Initiative, an economic development program which has provided China with political and economic inroads in various countries.
I have precisely two quibbles with the piece. They’re quibbles not objections. First, why oh why is our Eastern European foreign policy so heavily influenced if not completely crafted by Poles and Ukrainians? And second, although I do believe we should be providing support to Ukraine and it should be more open-ended than it appears to be at present I also think we should be giving it much more oversight than we are at present. We have interests other than Ukraine. Using taxpayer money (not to mention borrowed money) wisely and carefully is one of those interests. So is ensuring that our aid to Ukraine is actually used to bolster Ukraine rather than bolstering American arms manufacturers or Ukrainian oligarchs.