U.S. Department of State from United States via Wikimedia Commons

For those who have watched the neoconservative brand shift from the Democratic Party in the 1970s and 1980s over to the Republican Party in the aftermath of 9/11 only to watch them magically transform back into Democrats after the election of Donald J. Trump, the obsession over Putin is a wonder to behold.

Over at Bearing Drift, the neoconservative D.J. McGuire (who is indeed a friend) has been damning the Tucker Carlson wing of the Republican Party for their obstreperous questioning of the Biden administration’s Hamlet-like involvement in Ukraine. Neither willing to abandon nor support the pro-Western Maidan uprising, the Biden administration seems bent on creating an ‘indigestible’ Ukraine — one that would thrust 40 million people into a Syrian-style conflagration over a land area the size of Texas.

I suspect there are three positions here:

  1. We cease our support for the Maidan government and allow events to take their course, up to and including Russian peacekeepers (sic) supporting a pro-Russian government and a return to the pre-2014 status quo ante bellum.
  2. We provide the resources to turn Ukraine into Syria, effecting a lengthy and protracted insurgency against the cream of the Russian Armed Forces and leave 43 million Ukrainians to their fate in the hopes that either world opinion will be galvanized against Russia or that casualties will become so high that the Russian oligarchs finally tire of Putin and magically install Navalny (or some derivative thereof).
  3. The United States and United Kingdom announce our intention to enforce the 1994 Budapest Agreement, deploying 50,000 Coalition soldiers to western Ukraine along with US/UK peacekeepers along the Ukrainian border, evict any separatist movement in the Donbas basin, and then force the Russian Federation to the table with the array of sanctions previously announced until a settlement of Crimea is arranged (or a Ukrainian-led liberation can be effected) — a solution that would threaten open war with the Russian Federation, drive them further into the arms of the Chinese government, but solidify our intention to back our treaty obligations to NATO and Eastern Europe.

The math becomes quite simple.

The Russians are prepared to bleed Russians for Kiev. For Russia, this is a question of geopolitical survival. With Ukraine, Russia is a great power. Without Ukraine? Russia is a minor power compared to rivals in the European Union and China. Simply put, the idea of Russia was born in Kiev — it is akin to having a foreign government snap off the Heartland and install a pro-Chinese or pro-Russian government. We are going to want that back. So too do the Russians with Ukraine.

Therein lies the kicker. Unless the United States is willing to identify the national interest that is worthy of comparable sacrifice? Then one finds it quite hard to justify a conflict so that Europe can keep what we effected through an Obama-era democratic uprising. Even by feeding a pro-Western insurgency, what precisely are the victory conditions other than allowing Ukraine to burn in order to effect a showdown with the Russian Federation? Will Biden accomplish what Napoleon could not?

Turning Ukraine into Yugoslavia on a mass scale would be the opposite of good. As General Jim Mattis was so fond of saying, the enemy gets a vote. Assistance from outside actors would be viewed as belligerent and would inspire a direct response, the stakes for Russia being that high.

The moral horror of putting 43 million Ukrainians into the maw of an insurgency strikes me as shockingly unhuman. There has to be a middle way between appeasement and insurgency, and if it means recognizing that an Obama-era policy of democratic uprisings may have stretched their fingers out a bit too far in places such as Libya, Syria, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, and yes even Ukraine — maybe it’s time to figure out that the world doesn’t run on pixie dust and memes.

Nailing Russia down to the diplomatic table would be the definition of good — but they will not do so as long as they perceive that there is an intent among US and EU policy makers to keep Russia weak and divided.

Of course, neoconservative meddling that simply seeks war as the highest good or else you are a racist, anti-gay bigot is just mind-boggling — but somehow an effective argument in today’s woke political environment.

Signs and wonders.