Welcome to Ukrainistan 

There’s lots not to like about the war in Ukraine, and people should be allowed to argue the case without being demonized by those who have a different opinion. But the more those who urge caution are demonized as pro-Putin by the pro-war people, the more they, and probably their audience, become suspicious, or should become suspicious, of the pro-war faction.

Former defense secretary Robert Gates wrote in his book and repeated afterwards that Joe Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” That suggests that every foreign policy decision Biden makes now is likely to be wrong, too. How many people learn anything at his age? Why should we expect his handling of the Ukraine war to be different from—better than—the poor choices he has made during the last 40 years? Or any different from his disastrous withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan only a year ago? That decision garnered a once-in-a-millennium rebuke from the British Parliament. 

And we also have to note that Biden really isn’t in charge: He is a doddering old man. It’s the Democratic Party that’s running the show, and that is far more disgraceful! It’s also far more dangerous, because those individuals will be around—and may be near the levers of power—long after Biden has gone to rest. 

We should note—to the discomfort of the Democratic Party—that the Russians didn’t invade Ukraine on Trump’s watch. You don’t have to be a Trump lover to notice that: even a Bernie Sanders socialist can see it. Some Democrats and Biden lovers may try to explain that away by noting how the anchovies were running then or the migration of the monarch butterflies was distracting the Russians. Adults will examine how Trump’s foreign policy differed from the Biden Administration’s. 

It was reported early on in the war—how do we tell if anything that comes out of the Biden Administration or the news media is true?—that the Biden Administration had told the Ukrainians they would not be admitted to NATO, but told the Russians that the issue was still unresolved. If true, the administration obviously had it backwards—or at least half-backwards. Whatever they chose to tell the Ukrainians, they should have told the Russians that Ukraine would not be admitted to NATO. 

And probably the same generals who for years told us that we were on the verge of victory in Afghanistan, that we were making interesting progress, steady progress, deliberate progress, significant progress, are telling the administration that victory in Ukraine is just around the corner.

To date, the United States  has spent about $52 billion on the war; the European Union only $21 billion, though the GDPs of the United States and the EU are comparable. Couldn’t that money have been better spent on protecting the U.S. southern border, keeping out the 5 million illegals who have crossed it, bringing with them disease and fentanyl, which is killing more than 100,000 Americans each year?

The Ukrainians have fought valiantly—there can be no question about that. But now what? Winter is coming. It gets cold in winter. The Russians are making every attempt to destroy the infrastructure that provides heat in the country. Then what happens? How do Ukrainians survive the long, cold, dark winter months?

It is estimated that it will take generations to rebuild Ukraine. Who will pay for that? Where will the Ukrainians who are left in the country live during that time? 

Suppose the Russians continue to bomb Ukraine for a few more weeks, and then say, “You know what, guys, we’re tired of this. We’re going home to rest, and to celebrate Christmas, which we believe in, as opposed to you godless, debauched, sexually perverted freaks. But we’ll be back.” 

Then what? The Ukrainians start rebuilding anyway? 

Meanwhile, back at the Pentagon, the United States is reported to be running low on armaments, having shipped so many to Ukraine. The United States is also reported to be low on aircraft and other war materiel because one Congress after another, for decades, has spent so much money buying votes with welfare programs instead of building up the U.S. military. Isn’t it lucky that the Chinese can’t read English? 

Daniel Henninger, an otherwise sensible columnist for the Wall Street Journal, says we should not delude ourselves into thinking that Putin’s only goal is capturing Ukraine. No, no: it’s like the Cold War, he says. Putin has his eye on reassembling the Soviet Empire. And we should make the same effort to resist now that we did in those days.

But we don’t know that. Today’s Russia is not the Soviet Union. Even the Soviet Union turned out not to be the powerhouse that our best spies (who should all have been fired) thought it was. Putin’s military is plainly incompetent. It would take years to train them to be a first-rate fighting force—assuming that could be done in a society as corrupt as Russia’s. Besides, Putin could die. Or be removed. Or fall in love. He may be trying to bring back the old days, but is that what his cronies want? Maybe they just want to live the good life on the wealth they stole from the Russian people.

Given the state of our military, we should postpone all conflict until we are better prepared—assuming the Chinese will grant us that time.

And now, according to the Washington Post, the Biden Administration is reportedly about to pull the rug out from under the Ukrainians: after suffering almost a year of destruction and death, they are being encouraged “to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia and drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks unless President Vladimir Putin is removed from power . . .” You can’t make this stuff up.

Welcome to Ukrainistan.

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About Daniel Oliver

Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was executive editor and subsequently chairman of the board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review. Email him at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.

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