For 40 years of the Cold War, Ukraine was an integral part of the Soviet Union. In 1991, Bush I warned Ukrainian secessionists, who wanted to sever ties to Russia, not to indulge such “suicidal nationalism.” And though we brought 14 new nations into NATO after 1991, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama never brought in Ukraine.
Speaking of the seven-week war in Ukraine ignited by Vladimir Putin, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is warning us to expect a war that lasts for years. “I do think this is a very protracted conflict … measured in years,” Milley told Congress. “I don’t know about a decade, but at least years, for sure.”
As our first response, said Milley, we should build more military bases in Eastern Europe and begin to rotate U.S. troops in and out. Yet this sounds like a prescription for a Cold War II that America ought to avert, not fight. For the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, while a declared goal of U.S. policy, is not a vital U.S. interest to justify risking a calamitous war with Russia.
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