Roger Wicker plays dominoes
Mississippi GOP senator Roger Wicker is at it again, urging the Biden administration to "protect our democratic friends" in Ukraine and invoking the domino theory. Wicker, a member of the Armed Services Committee, previously suggested on Fox News that the United States use ground troops and possibly a nuclear first strike to defend Ukraine. Shortly after he made those comments and received criticism from former Hawaii congresswomen Tulsi Gabbard and Fox's Tucker Carlson, a National Review William F. Buckley fellow named Jimmy Quinn came to Wicker's defense, claiming he didn't say what he clearly did say.
Now National Review has published an article by Senator Wicker that praises President Biden for positioning more U.S. troops to NATO countries but criticizes him for not doing more. "Strong presidents," he writes, "never take options off the table, and we cannot be surprised if Putin now doubts whether we really care what he does to Ukraine." Because, Wicker writes, our failure to defend Ukraine will show that "America's will to lead and defend the free world is no longer believed," and "every adversary will be emboldened to challenge our interests."
To support his call for stronger U.S. actions to defend Ukraine, Wicker reaches back to the domino theory — the notion, first mentioned by President Eisenhower and later supported by presidents Kennedy and Johnson, that our failure to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam would inevitably lead to the communization of all of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and beyond. Wicker writes: "There are now several dominoes lined up that stand to fall behind Ukraine," and he mentions Poland and the Baltic States (who are NATO members — Ukraine is not).
The first version of the domino theory resulted in the deaths of more than 58,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen and our defeat by a third-rate power in Vietnam. And while some dominoes fell — Laos and Cambodia — not all of them did, and we ultimately prevailed in the Cold War despite that wasteful defeat, and Vietnam is now siding with us against China because the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Now Wicker wants us to defend a country that was part of Russia and the former Soviet Union for centuries because, apparently, Ukraine is now part of the "free world." Perhaps the senator and the editors of National Review should clearly state how many of our soldiers' lives are worth losing to defend the independence of Ukraine. And perhaps before Biden decides to go to war in Ukraine, he will seek a congressional declaration of war as the Constitution demands.
Wicker also invokes President Ronald Reagan and his defense buildup in the 1980s that "helped with the Cold War." It did indeed, but Reagan won that Cold War without firing a shot. Reagan didn't send U.S. ground forces to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, and he didn't threaten a nuclear first strike to defend the Afghans (or the Poles). And Reagan came into office with a well deserved national security and anti-Soviet reputation that the Soviets understood all too well. Biden, on the other hand, to quote former CIA and defense secretary Robert Gates, had a reputation for being wrong about virtually every foreign policy issue during his long Senate career. Gates could paraphrase Lloyd Benson's comments about Dan Quayle: "Senator Wicker, I knew Ronald Reagan and served with him. Senator Wicker, Joe Biden is no Ronald Reagan."
Wicker's piece in National Review is yet another sign of the decline of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s once-great magazine, which has been transformed by the recent and current editorial staff into a neo-conservative, anti-populist journal that invariably supports the Washington GOP establishment. Oh, for the days of James Burnham, Russell Kirk, Whittaker Chambers, Willmoore Kendall, Joseph Sobran, Keith Mano, William Rusher, and Buckley himself.
As to the question of how many American lives should be sacrificed to defend Ukraine, I'll paraphrase Bismarck about the Balkans: Ukraine is not worth the healthy bones of a single American soldier.
Image: OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.