The Right Response to the War in Ukraine

Once again, Russian tanks are rolling down the streets of an occupied nation, and Russian missiles are raining down on innocent civilians. As the child of parents who lived through the European devastation of World War II, and then witnessed Soviet forces suppress the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, I thought these images would remain purely historic. Not thanks to Joe Biden. 

To be clear: the responsibility for the current atrocity and for the ensuing war crimes are the responsibility of Vladimir Putin. But Putin would not have invaded with President Trump in the White House, and only did so now because of Biden’s disastrous demonstration of weakness and incompetence last year when he surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban. 

When Trump was in the White House, America was strong. America led, and our enemies feared us. We sanctioned Putin’s Nord Stream 2 oil pipeline that weakened Europe. When hundreds of Russian mercenaries were destabilizing Syria, U.S. troops killed them. (Something even Ronald Reagan never tried). 

When the father of the man who received $3.5 million from the wife of the disgraced former mayor of Moscow entered the White House, he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, dropped Nord Stream 2 sanctions, and signed orders to ensure Russia would become the fourth-largest source of U.S. oil imports (400,000 barrels a day) all on his first day.

As conservatives who fought against the scourge of communism and the Soviet Union, what is the right response now that the Cold War has been replaced with a hot war?

First, can we put the neo-Buchananite isolationists back in their box, please? Yes, the southern border is a crisis; yes, inflation is skyrocketing; yes, the Democrats are only making matters worse. But anyone who says “screw Ukraine, it’s not our problem!” is dangerously deluded. 

Saying bad guys doing bad things far away is irrelevant to Americans is worse than naïve. It wasn’t true in 1939 with the Third Reich, and it wasn’t true in the 1990s with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. And it isn’t true now. Put simply, nuclear-armed thugs invading other countries is bad for every free nation. Remember the playground bully when you were a kid? What happened when he went unchallenged? He kept on bullying. Putin is a geopolitical bully.

Don’t get me wrong, Ukraine is not exactly the same as Poland in 1939. This benighted and liminal nation has never functioned as a mature, stable democracy as Poland has. Nevertheless, Ukraine’s people were free and now they are not. And if 1776 means anything to American conservatives, then the assertion that we are made “in the image of our Creator” applies to Ukrainians and not just Anglo colonials here in America. This is not a call for intervention. The Trump White House brought troops home and was predicated on ending dumb wars. But it wasn’t isolationist. Ask the families of the murderous mercenaries killed in Syria. 

What is the answer in Ukraine? Let the Ukrainians fight for themselves. But let’s arm them to the teeth and have NATO provide them with actionable intelligence to make the Russian invaders bleed. Remember: If France hadn’t tangibly supported the revolutionary founders, America would not exist today. They may be separated by 246 years, but our war in 1776 is now being fought by Ukrainians, who also fight for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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