...The conflict could go on for a long time, with Kiev and Moscow locked in a small hot war and the U.S. and Russia stuck in a larger Cold War lite. An extended confrontation would be in no one’s interest, especially America’s.
The U.S. has made a habit of promiscuously meddling around the world. The results rarely have been pretty. Thousands of Americans have been killed, tens of thousands have been wounded, hundreds of thousands of foreigners have died, and a multitude of international furies have been loosed.
At least none of these conflicts involved a real military power. In contrast, advocates of confrontation with Russia over Ukraine want to challenge a nation armed with nuclear weapons and an improving conventional military, steeped in nationalist convictions, rooted in historic traditions, and ruled by a tough authoritarian. No one should assume that in a military showdown the Kremlin would yield to Washington or that war with Moscow would be a cakewalk.
Yet Ukraine’s most fervent advocates assume that any American who fails to believe that, say, inaugurating global nuclear war to save their distant ethnic homeland is a Putin troll, Russian agent, friend of dictators, proto-communist fellow traveler, or even worse. Of course, Ukrainian nationalists are not alone in their conclusion that anyone who disagrees with them is not only wrong but evil. That’s Washington politics today.
However, the issues of the Russo-Ukraine conflict are complex with no obvious solution. People of good faith and basic intelligence can disagree about both facts and solutions. In fact, there is at least a Baker’s Dozen of good reasons for America to stay out of today’s messy, tragic, and bloody conflict involving Ukraine and Russia. The first six are reason enough: Ukraine isn’t important geographically; Russia matters more than Ukraine to America; blame is widely shared for Ukraine’s travails; Washington never guaranteed Ukraine’s security; Vladimir Putin is not Hitler and Russia is not Nazi Germany (or Stalin’s Soviet Union); and there’s no genocide...