An out-of-context video featuring Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, quoted him claiming American sons and daughters will have to fight and die in Ukraine. Isolationists and pro-Russian propagandists all seized on the video to denounce American funding of Ukraine’s war effort. Understanding Zelenskyy’s statement in its context, he is right.
The context came from the preface, selectively edited out by social media warriors. He said if Ukraine loses, Russia will be emboldened to take on NATO member states. That would, in fact, force the United States into the war. Russian President Vladimir Putin has fully embraced the idea that his war in Ukraine is a proxy war against NATO. If he can beat Ukraine, he thinks he can beat NATO.
Putin has recently suggested reconsidering Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as sovereign nations and suggested Poland may be a threat Russia will have to deal with. All are NATO members. Should Russia invade them, the United States will have to respond.
The Russian propagandists claim the United States is to blame for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They claim by considering admitting Ukraine into NATO, we provoked Russia to respond. The dimwits of history, unconcerned with truth, ignore the United States expressly rejected Ukraine’s admission to NATO. Our rejected thought is not what provoked Russia. They also ignore the United States and Russia jointly agreed to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty when it surrendered its former Soviet nuclear arsenal to Russia. We are keeping our word and Russia is breaking its word.
There is a bigger issue at stake here and it is why we should continue to support Ukraine. Ukraine is a proxy war in defense of the Western world order keeping something new and far more sinister than any Western post-colonial system at bay.
Russian sycophants and left-wing pundits rail against the Western order, Western rules and colonialism. What they are really arguing against is the Western trade and diplomatic system. It is rules-based. It is flawed, but generally has brought trade, peace and a legal regime to a world of sovereign nations. Play by the rules and play in the system, and countries can achieve peace and trade.
The Russians, Chinese, Iranians and Brazilians, who just welcomed Iran’s Navy to its ports, want to end the Western order. Their system, playing out across Asia, Africa and parts of South America, is “might makes right.” Powerful nations use their force, surreptitiousness and bribes to get what they want. The system is unfair, ruthless and dependent on corruption. This is the system reflective in those nations.
The United States and Europe put the Western system in place to fight corruption and the idea that military superpowers could impose their will on others through surreptitious means. The Western system provided a meaningful path for business to flourish without bribes, money laundering or other bad practices.
China and Iran are helping Russia in Ukraine, hoping to destabilize the Western world order. A victory would suggest to Middle Eastern powers that they should ally with and give more favorable oil deals to China at our expense. The Eastern calculation is that the West is tired and weak.
Some on the Right, because of cultural concerns, have embraced and champion this. They seem to think they would be spared from the “wokes” if Russia and China were dominant. Putin played into that belief last week with a speech in which he attacked Western cultural progressivism. Some on the Left, because of economic and cultural concerns, also embrace and champion this. The NBA profits from China while lecturing the United States on social justice. The Left believes the Chinese economic system is more equitable than our own. Both those on the Left and Right who flirt with this realignment are playing with fire.
The isolationists too are playing with fire. Each time the United States has looked inward and ignored its role on the world stage, it has then had to grapple with world war. Isolationists claim to reject this idea, but they reject history in so doing. The United States must support Ukraine because it must defend the Western order. To show weakness in Ukraine is to signal weakness to Russia and China. That is just reality, like it or not.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.