Reviews | Now is not the time to be hesitant about military aid to Ukraine
The annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, draws some of the derision it receives (“Where billionaires tell millionaires what the middle class thinks”), but sometimes it puts a world leader in the useful spotlight, so on the spot. On May 26, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the forum: The world “felt love at first sight” when Russia invaded Ukraine. This “will end Germany’s and Europe‘s dependence on energy imports from Russia”: “We cannot allow Putin to win his war”, so we must ” make Putin understand that there will be no victor’s peace”.
Another German, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said Ukraine “must win” because it is “one of us”. She thus provided the answer to the silly question whether Ukraine – geographically, the largest nation located entirely in Europe – belongs to the European Union.
Scholz’s thunderous words included: “We have an unequivocal message for our allies: you can count on Germany! And: “For the very first time, Germany is supplying weapons to a war zone – including heavy weapons.” Words, however, are unable to defeat Ukraine’s apparent Russian aim of dismembering it piecemeal. The Wall Street Journal reports that Germany has not sent tanks to Ukraine, has not yet sent to Poland and the Czech Republic the weapons promised to replace the tanks that these nations (from Poland, more than 240 T72s of Soviet design) sent to Ukraine. Germany, the Journal reports, ‘agreed to ship’ seven pieces of heavy artillery, but Europe’s biggest economy actually sent military aid worth just $215 million, less than Estonia’s contribution.
“We believe,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda, “that this is a war against civilization”. Who disagrees?
All wars end, usually with negotiations. It is imperative that Ukraine begins to negotiate from a position of strength. The EU’s decision last week to embargo 90% of Russian oil imports by the end of the year was particularly encouraging, given Europe’s low pain threshold. But the battlefield matters first and foremost in determining – and defining – victory.
In his 1951 address to Congress after President Harry S. Truman relieved him of command during the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur proclaimed, “There is no substitute for victory. In fact, there are gradations of victory, so there were substitutes for victory as Americans – fresh out of a world war that ended in unconditional surrender – understood then. In December 1952, what President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower saw, hunched over in a small plane flying over the Korean front, confirmed his hunch: a military victory would require bloodshed disproportionate to any American geopolitical gain – and beyond. American tolerance.
The choice of the United States today is different. The potential gains for the country by supporting Ukraine’s valiant expenditure of its blood are enormous. After her visit to Kyiv, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on May 1 that the United States stands “with Ukraine until victory is won.” Victory should have two elements.
The first is that the fight ends with Russia diminished – more vulnerable militarily, economically decrepit and internationally despised than it was when its aggression began. This has been achieved, but the achievement must be preserved by a second element:
Never mind war reparations; prosecution for war crimes; the return of Ukrainian territories previously annexed by Russia, such as Crimea; or even an end to Russian misdeeds in Ukrainian regions with a large Russian-speaking population. What matters to prevent Scholz’s “victor’s peace” is the restoration of the February 24 geographic (albeit messy) status quo.
Putin wanted to restore his nation’s arrogance. Russia now hobbles into a shrunken future as a moral pariah, its military tottering in the shadow of an expanded NATO. Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times reports that the United States estimates that Russia has lost around 1,000 tanks, that component shortages have forced two tank manufacturers to stop production and that the shortage of semiconductors in Russia is so serious that they “use computer chips from dishwashers and refrigerators in military equipment”. .” It’s time to increase The sting of Ukraine.
The adversaries of the United States in Afghanistan said: you have the wristwatches, but we have the time. Barbarians like Putin often believe that societies defined by raw endurance can prevail against societies that are more sophisticated than relentless. Supporters of Ukraine should avoid the temptation — the military madness — of hesitation.