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Opinion: Did a Weak America Lead to the War in Ukraine?

The war in Ukraine is certainly an unfinished story. Countries pump millions of dollars of aid into the eastern European country in the form of anti-tank and anti-air missiles to assist the country in repelling Russian forces. The United States has sent hundreds of millions in aid to the war-torn country. And yet, once the provisions are sent, we step back, shove our hands in our pockets, and wait. The world waits. For obvious reasons, at least for now, the United States is not about to step in and engage the Russians militarily. We are not asking for a war. Ukraine is not our war. But did the United States have a part to play in how war came to be in Ukraine?

The lines have been drawn; it is obvious where the world stands in the conflict. The Ukrainian war is perhaps, in some ways, one of the most black and white political issues we have seen in some time. Scan the headlines of Fox news and CNN. Tragedy has a way of placing people on the same side of the coin. Even in as politically diverse a situation as currently exists in America, our hearts still ache when we see a bloodied body pulled from the rubble, or a young girl clinging to her mother’s hand, clothes in tatters, as the family flees their native country. Everyone wants to see justice done. Everyone wants to see a Russian tank blown to the sky.

Protests in Ukraine - Source:

In America, we are obsessed with sticking the blame to someone. We love to point fingers in our country, even during a war, and it is more satisfying if it can be one of our own that is liable for horrible things happening. You may be familiar with some of these accusations slung in the “political food fight” that has emerged in our country since the war:

1) Putin was buying his time, waiting for a weak U.S. president to be in power before he struck. The Trump era seemed characterized by Trump “buddying” up to the world leaders the United States most feared. But was that what he was doing, did Trump truly see China and Russia as his best friends? The phrase “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” comes to mind. Trump knew which countries he needed to keep an eye on and made sure they knew who was in charge. Did his babysitting work? One thing is for sure, Putin did not attack during Trump’s presidency.

2) America could have been tougher on Russia much earlier. This isn’t the first time in recent years that Russia has made a move in Eastern Europe. In 2014, Russia annexed a portion of Crimea, formerly a part of Ukraine. Russia has put pressure on Ukraine, on and off, throughout the last decade, to scare the country away from flirting with potentially joining the European Union, or NATO. The United States has certainly sanctioned Russia in the past for certain actions, but could we have been tougher? Certainly. The United States continued to support construction of The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, after all.

3) America’s military might has lost some of its credibility. The botched withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, leaving while many Americans remained in the country, looked very poor for America on the world stage. Certainly, Russia was paying attention here.

Joe Biden with US Military - Source:

It might sound shallow to say, but when it comes to war, it is all about the big dogs and the little dogs. Survival is built into us; if we feel the bigger guy is going to beat us up and take our lunch money, then we will avoid him. No one wants a bloody lip and their spare change snatched away. America has not played it tough on Russia like it should have, it has consistently lost opportunities to bring oil and gas production back to home turf. We have lost face worldwide multiple times, through botched foreign military operations and economic policy. Russia has watched and waited, and maybe, they consider themselves the bigger dog now? The Ukrainians have lost billions of dollars in infrastructure, are suffering a mass exodus, and hundreds have been killed in this war. Could it all have been avoided had America, like it has in times past, played it tougher on the world stage?

Larsen Blake

April 13, 2022

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