MARY REICHARD: Today is Thursday, March 2nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Commentator Cal Thomas now with hard questions about the war in Ukraine.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: In John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address, he said, “…we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.”
Those were simpler, though not less dangerous times. The Soviet Union was seen as America’s number one enemy. China had not begun to challenge our position as the world’s most powerful nation. Foreign policy then was mostly nonpartisan.
Over the past year, America has supported Ukraine in its attempt to push back the Russian invasion and hold Vladimir Putin accountable for what Ukraine President Zelenskyy has charged are war crimes. Now it’s time to ask some hard questions.
First among them is, what is our goal? If it is not victory (and victory defined) what is it? Since America’s victory in World War II, we have been engaged in almost exclusively either stalemates or defeat. First there was the conflict in Korea, which ended in a draw, resulting in more than 33,000 American battle deaths.
Then there was Vietnam, where 58,220 U.S. soldiers perished. We lost that one to the communist North.
Afghanistan, America’s longest war, saw more than 2,000 American service members killed. An additional 3,800 U.S. contractors lost their lives. Not only has the Taliban returned to rule, that war cost an estimated $2 trillion, in addition to the expense of military equipment left behind.
And now Ukraine. Not many U.S. troops have been sent there (yet), but once again, it’s the United States that is bearing most of the financial burden in a war that is sapping resources we don’t have. Our debt is now over $31 trillion, and President Biden has promised another $500 million in aid to Ukraine. Are there controls on this money? Will it be used for its intended purpose, or will it sink into the black hole that has been defined by the country’s history of corruption?
There are strong arguments in favor of continuing to help Ukraine push back against Putin, but those arguments become weak if our intentions are not made clear and our military aid continues to resemble an installment plan.
Former Joint Chiefs Chairman General Colin Powell viewed the purpose of the military as winning with overwhelming force. Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger shared Powell’s views in a 1984 speech in which Weinberger outlined what should be considered before American forces (and I would argue resources) are sent anywhere: “Vital national interests are at stake, the nation is prepared to commit enough forces to win, clear political and military objectives have been established, forces are sized to achieve those objectives, there is reasonable assurance of support of the American people and Congress.”
Putin clearly believes the U.S. will grow tired of the expense and draw back its support. President Biden has promised we will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes.”
The president should explain the goal and in the meantime ask European nations to step up their aid to Kyiv.
I’m Cal Thomas.
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