William Astore on the Disastrous War in Ukraine

A blank check of support is often a dangerous thing, especially in war

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Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

Remarkably, U.S. aid to Ukraine may soon exceed $100 billion if the Biden administration’s latest ask is approved. And more than a few Americans believe Ukraine merits this vast sum – and more.

They argue the Ukraine war is a necessary one and applaud the Biden administration for taking a firm stance against Russian aggression. They see Putin as a dangerous dictator who seeks to revive a Russian empire at the expense of Europe, and they wholeheartedly approve of US and NATO military aid. They argue Ukraine is winning the war and that, once the war is won, Ukraine should be invited to join NATO. They see NATO as a benign presence and dismiss Russian concerns that NATO expansion is in any way provocative. And they see negotiation with Putin as at best premature and at worst as rewarding Putin for his Hitlerian aggression.

My stance is different. Yes, I denounce Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and hope that he loses, but I’d prefer to see a negotiated settlement. The longer the war lasts, the more people die, Russian and Ukrainian, and the greater the chance of miscalculation followed by escalation, possibly even to nuclear weapons.

I don’t think the US government cares a whit about defending democracy in Ukraine; heck, it barely defends democracy in America. I think the government and specifically the MICC (military-industrial-congressional complex) has several goals:

  1. To weaken Russia militarily and economically via what some term a proxy war.

  2. To sell more natural gas to Europe (hence the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines).

  3. To sell massive amounts of weaponry to Ukraine.

  4. To elevate Russia to an “evil empire” once again, ensuring higher Pentagon spending. Notice how there’s been no “peace dividend” in the aftermath of the Afghan War. Indeed, Pentagon budgets have soared since the Russian invasion.

  5. To support the narrative of a new cold war against Russia and China, ensuring even more spending on weapons and wars.

  6. Finally, as Biden stated openly, the desire to effect regime change in Russia, i.e. the overthrow of Putin by his own people.

Again, I’m no Putin fan, and I truly wish he’d give up and withdraw his forces. But I very much doubt he’ll do that. It seems more likely that both sides, Ukraine and Russia, will continue launching missiles and drones at each other while the war escalates further. Consider recent reports of Ukrainian attacks on Russian barracks in the Crimea even as Russia targets infrastructure in Odesa.

So, while it’s true US and NATO aid will keep Ukraine in the war, it’s also true Ukrainians and Russians will continue to suffer and die in a war that is already escalating in dangerous ways. It all has the makings of a far-reaching disaster, but what we’re encouraged to do is to ask no questions while flying the Ukrainian flag just below our American ones.

A blank check of support is often a dangerous thing, especially in war.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools. He writes at Bracing Views.

18 thoughts on “William Astore on the Disastrous War in Ukraine”

  1. It probably will end in negotiation, but what makes negotiation possible? Exhaustion, neither side is exhausted yet. So aiding Ukraine until they are ready to negotiate allows them the best possible negotiating position.

    1. Biden will not let is happen. He could have been a diplomat, peace maker who would have been celebrated throughout the world back in December when Russia was open to negotiation, again in April of this year. The man wearing the aviator sunglasses is on a mission. Whatever that is.

      1. Biden is very old and almost certainly has dementia. I highly doubt that he’s making any decisions; he’s being told what to do. Politicians rarely make decisions on their own anyway, they take their orders from the ruling class.

        The mission to which you referred is listed in Astore’s real U.S. goals, with the most important one listed in my comments.

    2. If they need to be exhausted to want to negotiate, then US aid is prolonging the war. Ukraine would be exhausted sooner without US aid.

      1. Not only is U.S. aid prolonging the war, it’s the cause of it. Without U.S. military aid, Russia would have overwhelmed Ukraine militarily within a month, probably less.

      2. No they fight to the point of exhaustion in either case, but if they have better weapons that point will end up with more of their territory liberated.

        1. The Russians have made it clear that if the west wants to negotiate they can call for negotiations at any time.
          Absent such a call, the Russians are already committed to continuation no matter how much crap the US and its satellite states throw into the mix.
          Putin has stated the gist of what I just wrote on numerous occasions, in addition to stipulating that Crimea and the Donbass are not for sale at any price.
          Putin has also publicly stated that Russia intends to pursue victory (how does Biden like to babble it?) as long as it takes, if that’s what Biden chooses – because for Russia, this is an attack by NATO on the Russian state via proxy.

          1. Cool, I guess Ukraine begs to differ, and we don’t mind suppling them at the moment. So rock on.

  2. USA has 200 B61s tactical nuclear warheads stored in Europe on bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and Turkey. Each has between 0.3-170 kilotons; the bomb dropped on Hiroshima had 15 kilotons. Russia opposes NATO bases near it borders allowing missiles, 317 miles or five minute flight time from the Kremlin, in Poland, Romania and the Czech Rep. What would you do, if you were Putin?

    1. The U..S. evil empire is clearly the problem here, as usual, not that I support Russia either. A much better solution than using its military would have been for Russia to work with China in opposing all this U.S. empire crap. It’s not like China is immune from it, look what’s going on there also. I think that China and maybe even India would have been very amenable to working together on this issue. China has a lot of leverage with the U.S. because of all the trade, and India has some leverage too because of tech outsourcing there.

  3. If Putin gives up and withdraws his forces, the ethnic Russians in eastern ukraine will be slaughtered within the month. Is that really what you want?

    Furthermore, if Russia gives up, NATO will move in with nuclear weapons in ukraine and will try to balkanize Russia into multiple client states. Do you think Putin is going to let that happen?

    The Russian people see what’s happening and overwhelmingly support Putin. And to the extent they don’t, it’s because he hasn’t been aggressive enough, soon enough. The Russian people are not going to depose Putin and even if they did, it would be in favor of someone even more rabidly anti-western.

    1. Yes, there are Russia generals who wanted to go full “shock and awe” from the beginning. If Putin goes, there will be h*ll to pay.

    2. Astore seems part way there, but he can’t totally give up his American bias. Therefore, Putin bad, want Russia to lose.

  4. William Astore forgot 7. (should be 1.): to create even more U.S. hegemony in order to rule the world.

    Astore lists most of the real U.S. goals in this war, yet he wants Russia to lose? Why exactly? One can oppose Russia’s invasion as I do, but still understand that in every other way Russia is right and the U.S. is wrong in this war. He listed some of the U.S. provocations that led to Russia’s invasion, yet he doesn’t want the U.S. to face any consequences for them and still want’s Russia to lose? This guy seems to be trying to play both sides here.

    They see Putin as a dangerous dictator who seeks to revive a Russian empire at the expense of Europe … They see NATO as a benign presence …

    Then they are deluded, brainwashed, whatever. Sure, Putin has made some irresponsible comments to the press about some delusional aim of restoring the old Russian Empire, but there’s no evidence that he actually wants to do that. In fact, quite the contrary. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Putin said at a meeting of top administration officials that he didn’t want to annex any countries, and Russia was attempting to save Ukrainian infrastructure and civilians to the extent possible before Ukraine blew up the bridge to Crimea. And it’s provably false that NATO is in any way “benign.” Almost immediately after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO became an offensive military force, going into other countries where there was no credible claim that doing so was needed for NATO member defense.

    Americans have become so brainwashed and brain dead regarding anything about Russia that it’s impossible to even have a rational fact-based discussion with them about this war. This started with Russiagate, which was made possible by people’s gross overreaction to Trump and subsequent TDS.

  5. Hard to say, though they certainly supported it at first. As recently as the end of November I got into an argument with someone because I said I oppose sending aid to Ukraine, and a few other people supported the guy with whom I was arguing while no one supported me. What is the basis for your claim?

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