Thursday, May 1, 2014

U.S. should put troops in Ukraine

I discussed on April 16, "Putin and Obama prepare their war strategies," that the west made a pledge to protect Ukraine when Clinton was President, and the U.S. should now honor that pledge.

Twelve days after I wrote my post, Dick Morris discussed this same topic in his April 29, 2014, column, "Send U.S. Troops to Ukraine, he said:
In 1994, President Clinton, British Prime Minister Major, Russian President Yeltsin, and Ukranian President Kuchma signed The Budapest Memorandum pledging themselves and their nations to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”
The Treaty was signed as part of a successful effort to persuade Ukraine to relinquish its nuclear stockpile, armaments stationed there when the Soviet Union broke up. In return for the joint guarantee, Ukraine promised to give up its nuclear weapons.
Its there in black and white: An American commitment we must honor.
Morris added:
When I asked President Clinton why he was so anxious to bring Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO, he spoke of the importance of maintaining freedom in those countries, but also said that we needed “a land bridge” to Ukraine. “Ukraine,” he said, “is key. We have to make sure they can stay independent.”
If the U.S. led it, NATO would surely be willing to follow and deploy at least a token force from every European nation.
There is no way Russia would attack Ukraine if it meant war with the United States. Just as the tripwire defense we maintained in Germany throughout the Cold War did not cost us a single US life and not one shot was fired in anger, so a robust show of support for Ukraine would not lead to war. It would avert one.
If we do not stop Russia in Ukraine, Putin will attack Azerbaijan, Moldova, and the Baltic States. If we do not stop him there, Poland and Eastern Europe could well be next.
We all know the story of how Allied refusal to intervene catalyzed Hitler’s push for European domination. We all realize now that a show of force when Hitler marched into the Rhineland or into Austria would have averted World War II.
Our successful deployment in Germany throughout the Cold War gives us ample evidence that you can face down the Russians without loss of life. Putin will take what we give him as long as its free, but not at the price of war.
My work in Russian politics (for Yeltsin in the 90s) left me with a strong impression that the fear of war with the U.S. is uppermost in Russian minds and the memories of World War II have not receded.
And, we gave our word to Ukraine. What is that worth?  
I think Morris is exactly right.  Once again we must honor our pledge, our promise. Not doing so risks further damaging respect for America, further hampering U.S. influence.
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Update 5/11/14
The problem here is not just democrats fault, as not one republican or democrat has called for sending troops to Ukraine.  However, as Charles Krauthhammer notes in his May 1, 2014, column "Obama's foreign policy of denial:"
The critique by John McCain and others is that when the Ukrainians last month came asking for weapons to defend themselves, Obama turned them down. The Pentagon offered instead MREs, ready-to-eat burgers to defend against 40,000 well-armed Russians. Obama even denied Ukraine such defensive gear as night-vision goggles and body armor.
Obama did, however, issue these words:
...in Ukraine, what we’ve done is mobilize the international community. . . . Russia is having to engage in activities that have been rejected uniformly around the world.”
So, as Krauthammer said, "That’s a deterrent? Fear of criticism? Empty words?"

Bottom line: It's not just Obama and democrats who are choosing to ignore Ukraine's cries for help, even after the West promised to defend them if they put down their weapons at the end of the Cold War.  Republicans are equally guilty.