For me, the war in Ukraine is simple: Ukraine didn’t invade Russia, Russia invaded Ukraine. So I am on the Ukrainians’ side. But at the same time, my perspective is nuanced. The nuance consists of wondering whether it really is in our interest to send tens of billions of dollars worth of war materiel to the Ukrainians. What interest, exactly, do we have in the conflict that makes such an expenditure–and the risks that it may entail–worthwhile?
I haven’t seen a coherent attempt to answer that question from the Biden administration, but maybe I missed it. Our goal seems to be to humiliate Russia, and thereby, perhaps, bring about regime change. As one with a nodding acquaintance with Russian history, I am not confident that a new regime would be an improvement.
A good friend who has long been a Ukraine war skeptic sent me a link to this Asia Times article, headlined: “NY Times shifts pro-war narrative.” The author attributes much more importance to the Times than I do, but his assessment of that paper’s move toward a more dovish stance may be correct. It is certainly plausible: I am old enough to remember when liberals would do almost anything to avoid a perceived risk of nuclear war.
I also remember when liberals were instinctively and sometimes irrationally anti-war. But that depended, apparently, on having a Republican in the White House. It turns out that Democrats can be quite enthusiastic about war, if one of their own is leading the charge. The author of the Asia Times piece points out that the most recent Ukrainian aid package “passed…the House of Representatives with only 57 Nays, all Republican.” It is almost heartwarming to see Democrats unanimously taking a strong stand against the Russians! If only they had done that years ago, when it counted.
One who can’t be accused of inconsistency is the anti-war author of the Asia Times piece, John Walsh, who “has written on issues of peace and health care for the San Francisco Chronicle, EastBayTimes/San Jose Mercury News, Asia Times, LA Progressive, Antiwar.com, CounterPunch and others.” Thus does history make strange bedfellows. My friend, who I think would agree with my description of him as a hard-core right-winger, finds merit in the arguments of the Antiwar.com, Counterpunch set. Whether those unusual allies are correct remains to be seen. Let’s hope we don’t find out the hard way.