Americans by now must recognize that the war hawks have a well-documented track record of rashness, misjudgment and failure. Following Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Crimea, the hawks once again are promoting the military option. Here Cato Institute senior fellow Doug Bandow explains why a war hawk action such as putting Georgia and Ukraine on a track to NATO membership is exactly the wrong course of action for America.
Since whatever happens between Russia and Ukraine poses little threat to Americans, military retaliation is inconceivable, especially after the U.S. managed to avoid shooting at the Soviets during the Cold War. Risking conflict with a nuclear-armed power is not for the faint-hearted. Although America has the better armed forces, Russia has the more serious geopolitical interests. Moscow’s ties to Ukraine are many and deep. For Washington Kiev’s orientation is but a geopolitical preference.
The administration has added fighter patrols in Europe and others have proposed sending the Sixth Fleet into the Black Sea. However, absent plans to strafe Russian villages and seize Sevastopol, what’s the point? Former White House aides Stephen J. Hadley and Damon Wilson advocated “deploying and exercising NATO forces in Poland, the Baltic states, and Romania.” That would only reinforce Moscow’s determination to prevent Ukraine from becoming a similar advance base for the U.S. military.
Zbigniew Brzezinski urged putting NATO troops on alert and readying U.S. airborne forces for deployment in Europe, even though Europe is not under attack and will not be attacked. He also advocated “immediate and direct aid so as to enhance” the Ukrainian military’s “defensive capabilities,” which would give the West responsibility without control, and raise Kiev’s expectations of actual military assistance.
John Bolton suggested putting “both Georgia and Ukraine on a clear path to NATO membership.” The alliance, he argued, was “the only way to give hope to Ukrainians who want to prevent being pulled back into Moscow’s orbit.” Yet Americans traditionally viewed alliances as a means to increase their security, not to ease other nations’ fears. Expanding NATO would decrease U.S. security by increasing the potential for needless confrontation and war.