In his Washington Post column Mark Thiessen presents what he refers to as an “America First” case for U. S. support for the Ukraine in its war with Russia. Here are his ten points:
- Russian victory would embolden our enemies
- A Ukrainian victory will help deter China
- Defeating Putin would weaken the Sino-Russian partnership
- Support for Ukraine will restore the Reagan Doctrine
- Victory will save the U.S. billions
- A proving ground for new weapons
- Arming Ukraine is revitalizing our defense industrial base
- The Russian invasion has strengthened U.S. alliances
- Victory helps prevent nuclear proliferation
- Victory in Ukraine is achievable
I’m not his target audience—Republicans are. However, to understand my issues with his argument, let’s first define our terms. “Victory for Ukraine”, as defined by the Ukrainian government and augmented by me to add the obvious, means:
- Withdrawal of Russia from all Ukrainian territory as defined by its pre-2014 borders.
- Cessation of hostilities within those borders including by Russian ethnic separatists and Ukrainian nationalists.
- Enough of the Ukrainian population remains within those borders to maintain civil society.
while “victory for Russia”, as defined by the Russian government, means that Russia continues to hold Crimea and the Donbas and Ukraine does not join NATO.
I would submit that victory for Ukraine is not achievable and I don’t honestly know whether victory for Russia is, either. At least 20% and possibly as much as 30% of Ukraine’s population has already left the country. Frankly, I doubt that most will return. The total numbers of those killed are at least .3% of the population and continue to mount. I don’t know what percentage of the population must die before Ukraine loses cohesion.
The question then becomes is preventing Russia from outright victory an objective sufficient for U. S. interests? I don’t think so but I cannot speak for the audience Mr. Thiessen is addressing.
On his other bullet points I think that the likely outcome in which neither Ukraine nor Russia actually prevails in their own terms fails to satisfy any of his points 1-9.