Soon after the spectacle of woke America’s self-humiliation in Afghanistan, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was getting an “‘ironclad commitment’ to Ukraine’s security, sovereignty and Euro-Atlantic aspirations” from the emblem of America’s demise, President Biden.
Mr. Zelenskyy remained so puffed up after his Sept. 1 visit to the White House that 10 days later, as Americans reflected on how far we’ve strayed from our post-9/11 spirit (which knew who the enemy was), he affirmed the possibility of all-out war with Russia. He was at the Yalta European Strategy summit, where he also was vexed at NATO’s foot-dragging on Ukrainian membership.
Perhaps the West comprehends that Ukraine joining NATO would be crossing Russia’s clearly stated red line, as that would make Russia indefensible. So Mr. Zelenskyy is trying everything to make it happen, including painting the conflict as ours. When asked by a CBS reporter, “Why should ordinary Americans care what’s happening here in Ukraine?” his outrageous reply was, “It can be tomorrow in their houses.” The reporter followed up, “You’re saying if Russia can do this here, it might do it tomorrow in the rest of Europe and the next day attack Americans?” Mr. Zelenskyy posited, “Why not?”
In parallel, we’ve witnessed Western governments concoct Russian crimes against themselves in pursuit of a more compelling casus belli than the invasion of some place called Crimea, or Russian laws against gay indoctrination of children, or dubious poisoning yarns. And so before long, circa 2015, what do you know—Russia had us in its crosshairs after all, its alleged crimes suddenly hitting closer to home: Republican-Russian collusion, hacking, bounties on Americans in Afghanistan, and election interference, aka “the worst attack on our democracy since 9/11,” according to The Washington Post, Bill Maher and other mental cesspools.
The comparison is abhorrent on several levels. The most far-fetched thing you could have told someone on Sept. 12, 2001, was that we would be shoveling Muslims across our borders and going after Russia within a few years.
In Bayonne, New Jersey, stands a 100-foot monument to our fall from grace, a 175-ton reminder of how far we’ve veered off course. The sculpture is named “To the Struggle Against World Terrorism” and was an official gift from the Russian government five years after 9/11. President Vladimir Putin was at the groundbreaking in 2005. He was also the first world leader to come to America’s defense after 9/11, allowing U.S. transit through the Russian Federation to Afghanistan, flight passes through Russian airspace, cooperation from the Northern Alliance that the Soviets had armed and trained, plus intelligence-sharing. Mr. Putin had also offered to form a strong U.S.-Russia alliance and even join NATO, but was rebuffed by President George W. Bush.
Mr. Zelenskyy’s bluster was prompted by the recent additional U.S. military aid announced for Kyiv. When asked about possibly meeting with Mr. Putin, he answered, “Honestly, I don’t have time to think about him.”
We’ve seen this before: one side being blamed for everything but trying to avoid war, and the other side, overconfident with Western backing, feeling no incentive to negotiate, and actualizing war. (See Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo.)
What premium does Ukraine think Uncle Sam places on Ukrainians, when he doesn’t lift a finger for his own expendable citizenry, not only to avoid predictable chaos in Afghanistan but also to rethink infesting us with head-choppers, drug-dealers, sex-traffickers, and child-bride pedophiles, all entering with everything from measles to corona? Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Georgian and Romanian units just got a micro lesson in Afghanistan: “They took their dogs and left our soldiers,” read a B92 headline. Sadly, Ukraine touts itself as a valuable ally for having contributed troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, all harbingers of its own doom.
Georgia got a taste in 2008. After discerning some words of encouragement from Washington, President Mikheil Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia and got whooped by Russia when no one had his back. “The parallels between Washington’s excessive encouragement of Ukraine and Bush’s blunder with respect to Georgia are eerie and alarming,” Ted Galen Carpenter recently wrote in The National Interest.
There is also the cautionary tale from 1999 when Macedonia took in over 400,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees from the war NATO waged against Serbia. “However, when the country was no longer needed for Clinton’s military adventures, it was forgotten, and the long-term consequences of Kosovo—an emboldened pan-Albanian Balkan insurgency—were ignored,” Chris Deliso wrote in his book, “The Coming Balkan Caliphate.” What’s more, the U.S. “began secretly supporting the NLA [National Liberation Army] … The public was shocked when it was reported that Islamic fighters and 17 American military contractors…had been found amongst the NLA’s ranks.”
But Mr. Zelenskyy must believe Ukraine is special, and is ready to make sacrifices to keep Washington’s favor. Kyiv “declared that it would cancel a planned $3.6 billion deal to sell the engine maker Motor Sich to Chinese investors, after years of pressure from Washington,” cited World Socialist Web Site’s Clara Weiss. “The nationalization of the company comes at enormous economic cost for Ukraine, which is highly indebted and impoverished.” Ms. Weiss quoted foreign policy expert Anders Aslund saying that “the decision showed Ukraine ‘stands with the U.S. even at considerable cost,’ and called it an excellent step that the U.S. should greatly appreciate.”
Here’s a pat on the head. Like we give to Poland and the Baltics, making bull’s-eyes of themselves by begging to be NATO bases. When all is said and done, they’ll be left wondering what was so bad for a quarter century without war with Russia?
• Julia Gorin was a child refusenik and is editor of the humor volume “Hillarisms: The Unmaking of the First Female President.