The return of Vindman, clamoring to start World War III
Among the most fervent war hawks in America today is Alexander Vindman, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and a former member of the NSC, who now works at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Foreign Policy Institute. His previous claim to fame was as a witness who testified about former president Donald Trump's call to Ukrainian officials in the second impeachment trial of Trump. He became an instant hero to the crowd at MSNBC and other anti-Trump major media (is there any other kind?). Vindman also reportedly claimed that Trump "bears an enormous burden of responsibility" for the Russia-Ukraine war, even though Russia's aggression against Ukraine has occurred during the Obama and Biden administrations. There was no Russian aggression against Ukraine on Trump's watch.
Vindman has now taken to the pages of Foreign Affairs to urge U.S. policymakers to "embrace the goal of Ukrainian victory" against Russia by throwing caution to the wind. The United States, he writes, is not doing enough to help Ukraine win this war. We should forget about building a stable relationship with Russia and instead provide Ukrainian forces with sufficient military weaponry to take the war to Russia's territory, Vindman counsels. We need to "discard the desire" to seek a compromise with Russia for a negotiated peace.
Vindman writes that our aid thus far has been too "incremental." Too many of our policymakers, he says, are acting based on a "flawed assessment of the risk of escalation and the potential consequences of a Russian defeat." The United States should provide Ukraine with weapons that can reach far inside Russia to destroy "militarily relevant targets" there. "There can be no return to business as usual with Russia," according to Vindman, "as long as Putin rules from the Kremlin." In other words, our policy toward Russia should be regime change.
Vindman writes that his recommendations carry "obvious risks," including cyber-war, Russian conventional attacks on NATO arms shipments, a broader European war, and even nuclear escalation (a risk that he claims has been "overstated and remains exceptionally small"). Stepping up arms shipments, including deep-strike weapons, Vindman assures us, will not likely "provoke any meaningful retaliation from Moscow." He claims that the nuclear threshold for Moscow "remains almost impossibly high." And he is convinced that peace can come about only with a Ukrainian victory — and that, he writes, must also be our goal.
The Biden administration's recent call for more than $34 billion in new assistance to Ukraine, Vindman claims, is not enough. We need to supply Ukraine with "more advanced military technology and the comprehensive training to accompany arms shipments from the West." NATO, he writes, should establish warehouses of military supplies just across the border from Ukraine in Poland, Romania, and Slovakia — presumably, Russia will not attack those warehouses due to its alleged fears of escalation. And then, after Ukraine's victory, he writes, the United States should help rebuild Ukraine via a new "Marshall Plan," followed swiftly by Ukraine's admittance to the European Union, further poking the Russian bear.
Vindman concludes that if Russia wins the war in Ukraine it will result in "irreversible damage to the liberal order, international law, security norms, and global stability." Those abstract words are Vindman's substitute for any analysis of precisely what vital national security interests of the United States are at stake in the Ukraine war. He identifies none because there is none.
No wonder Vindman doesn't like Trump. It was Trump who tried to stop the "endless wars" of past administrations while seeking to avoid unnecessary new wars. It was Trump who instinctively understood what John Quincy Adams meant when he said that America should not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. And it was Trump who attempted to pursue policies — policies resisted at every turn by the military hierarchy — in accordance with George Washington's prudent counsel in his Farewell Address not to act abroad based on sentiment for any other nation, but always to look to America's interests exclusively.
Today, we are risking World War III precisely because we have abandoned the foreign policy traditions of Washington and Adams. God help us if the Biden administration follows Vindman's advice.
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