Disaster there threatens European security and stability, which have been at the very heart of our foreign and defense policy for an entire century. If American foreign policy and strategic interests have any permanent core, it is interest in Europe’s well-being.
Ukraine’s conflict with the remnants of Soviet-style aggression threatens the rest of Russia’s bordering nations, nearly all of which were dominated by Red Army presence and force at one time. The Baltic states must be alarmed by now, and if we do nothing, they could become Putin’s next target.
Poland has already summoned NATO councils to consider consequences for its own security and therefore the security of the alliance. Georgia painfully reflects that the paltry international response to its own war with Russia five years ago surely emboldened Putin in this latest adventure.
In other words, this could be a defining moment. It is no secret that Putin has imperial ambitions, motivated by his pathological insecurities and a quest to restore lost glories. These are dangerous delusions that, if not confronted firmly, will come to threaten us all.
Beyond history and the threats to continental security and stability, I am even more concerned about America’s place in the world and how inaction will further diminish our international prestige.
The United States is increasingly perceived as a spent force, exhausted by interminable wars, politically divided and inert, financially strained and floundering without firm, determined leadership.
This is a bleak, false picture of our country that must be corrected. In many ways, the Ukraine crisis is an opportunity. America now has a chance to summon the collective will of its citizens and impose robust diplomatic and economic costs on Putin’s irresponsible behavior. This is the moment to demonstrate our nation’s return to the leadership role that the realities of this harsh world have long imposed upon us.