In the first fifteen years of the 21st century, the United States has initiated a series of well-intentioned and even noble military interventions abroad that have resulted in catastrophe, killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent civilians and creating chaos where once there were viable if authoritarian states. Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya come immediately to mind.
Now we are poised to repeat this experience in Ukraine, where Congress has urged the President in its latest resolution (HR 162) of March 23 to send in lethal weapons, trainers and more, for the sake of countering what is alleged to be Russian aggression. Germany and other leading allies in Europe have objected strenuously to arming the Ukrainians now, saying that the effect will be merely to pour gasoline on the flames of civil war, leading to vast escalation of violence and the possibility of a hot war between Russia and the West.
Sad as the lop-sided 348 yeas vs 48 nays vote in the House was, it marked a significant improvement on the last similar Russia-bashing vote on Capitol Hill on December 4th, when there were just 10 voices against the motion.
Within the 48 votes representing reason and common sense in the face of group think, 38 were Democrats and 10 were Republicans. That marks a spurt from the nearly balanced ratio back in December. I am told that the difference was some very effective lobbying of the black caucus by Progressive Left activists.
Meanwhile at the World Russia Forum session in the Hart Senate Office Building on March 26, the one Congressman who agreed to deliver the keynote speech was, as it turned out, a Republican, Dana Rohrabacher from California. And at the sidelines of the Forum, he and several others opined that Republicans also are open to facts and capable of changing their minds. In particular he puts his trust in the greater concerns of Americans over ISIS than over Russia, as revealed by recent polls.
That is a weighty argument why U.S. national security would be better served by finding a compromise on Ukraine with the Kremlin and moving back to the status quo ante, to a cooperative stance.
One further argument from the national security file is the damage that America’s contemplation of military intervention in Ukraine is having on the Atlantic alliance. The call for creation of a European Army by EU Commission President Juncker a couple of weeks ago was a direct affront to the concept of NATO and could have been issued only with the backing of his patron Angela Merkel. Europeans are looking for a way out from under American leadership only because that leadership is headed in precisely the wrong direction.
The question for our panel: is there reason to hope that Congress can be brought to its senses on the Russia question by lobbying from the healthy forces within the country, or will salvation come, if at all, from developments outside the States, meaning from decisions made in Europe.
Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of the American Committee for East West Accord, Ltd. Gilbert Doctorow is a Research Fellow of the American University in Moscow.