Name 3 Ukrainians
If you can’t name 3 Ukrainians, it’s tough to argue that Ukraine is vital to the United States. Should Ukraine and Russia go to war over the Crimea, the United States does not have a dog in that fight — unless you believe every fight in every part of the world demands US intervention.
Such thinking runs counter to American history. Jefferson did nothing while Napoleon ran wild in Europe. Theodore Roosevelt did nothing when Japan swallowed Korea. Wilson kept America neutral in World War I until 1917. Franklin Roosevelt did the same in World War II until Japan and Germany declared war on us. Truman did nothing when Soviet Forces crushed a political uprising in East Germany. Same for Eisenhower with Hungary. Same for Johnson with Czechoslovakia. Leaders across American history understood that war is a constant component of human society. Unless the United States wishes to be constantly at war, we must pick and choose which fights are necessary to engage and which others are simply to be deplored.
If we want to get Moscow’s attention over the Crimea, forget troops – send weapons. Massively arm the Ukrainians. Write Kiev a check for $10 billion (that would cost each American $32.90) and ship them Abrams tanks, Patriot surface-to-air missiles, drones, command & control, and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles. These would be tangible “consequences” that President Obama threatened in the event of Moscow’s aggression. A western-armed Ukraine would pose a constant threat to Russia along their 1000 miles of common border. This would be a foreign policy disaster for Vladimir Putin, one he would have a hard time explaining to his political backers.
This is not to say America must or should help Ukraine. According to BusinessWeek, Ukraine is “poorer than Paraguay and more corrupt than Iran.” Just because Russia is not on our dance card, we don’t need to marry Ukraine. They have a dispute to iron out with Russia. Whether they or the Russians like the final answer is not America’s problem. If it was, the average American could name at least 3 Ukrainians.