An American Fight in Ukraine Brings Big Costs, No Benefits
If there was one thing that predictably united the usually squabbling Roman elite, it was the emergence of a perceived threat to Rome’s Mediterranean and near-continental hegemony. To some degree, however difficult to calculate, it is impossible to deny that the dissolution of the Soviet Union has been responsible for the increasing polarization of American politics. Mikhail Gorbachev predicted as much as the Cold War neared its end, saying, “Our major secret weapon is to deprive you of an enemy.” Sure enough, their mortal foe vanquished, Republicans and Democrats set about fighting for position and privilege with an unconstrained vigor that over the course of thirty years led to the violation of many of the Republic’s so-called democratic norms long before Donald Trump became the 2016 Republican nominee for president.
It should be no surprise, then, to find Republicans and Democrats trying to recapture some of that once celebrated bipartisanship by once again uniting to battle the next round of challengers to liberal capitalist hegemony. However, in this refight of the Cold War, now cast as “democracy versus authoritarianism,” the United States is starting from a far weaker relative position than it did in, say, 1950. In 1950, for example, its industrial output constituted half the world total. Also weighing in its favor, Europe at that time was completely dependent on the Americans, both economically and militarily, and so allowed Washington to, more or less, dictate a joint foreign policy vis-à-vis the Soviet Union at its discretion.
Both of these conditions now fail to hold, and as military, economic, and diplomatic resources become scarcer for an America fighting obvious decline, avoiding unnecessary conflicts will be crucial to preserving the country’s existing status and prosperity. While transitional friction is bound to occur, and indeed there may be things worth fighting for, Ukraine isn’t one of them
To highlight some of the various reasons why Ukraine represents a bad investment for the American people, it is helpful to compare it with another territorial question fraught with similar peril: Taiwan. This is particularly apropos given the joint statement issued by Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping this past week, which more or less formalized what had to that point been a tacit assumption: they will support one another’s desired adjustments to existing territorial bounds and geopolitical institutions.
Setting aside the fact that Taiwan is party to a still ongoing, seventy-year civil war against mainland control and that America’s act of arming the separatist province is highly provocative and injudicious, the case for doing so, in realpolitik terms, is fairly coherent from the liberal imperialist and neoconservative per
Article from Mises Wire