Why Average Americans Should Care About Helping Ukraine

Part of the current impeachment hearings involves Trump withholding congressional approved military aid to Ukraine, who is now engaged in a war with Russia. (My understanding is that Russia invaded and has annexed Crimea, which is a territory in Ukraine.) I think most Americans can agree that this act of aggression is wrong, and I think they can understand, on some level, that withholding aid to a U.S. ally like Ukraine, in their current situation is troubling. However, I’m not sure most Americans understand how helping Ukraine is in the interests of average Americans. I was going to write a post to make a case for this, but I think the following Time article is a good start. Here’s a key excerpt:

…an effective Ukrainian defense against Russian aggression raises the cost of that aggression and (crucially) raises the perceived cost of future aggression.

A Russia that can simply walk over Ukraine is a stronger Russia – a nation that one day may feel emboldened to take even greater risks to secure regional dominance and strain the western alliance. A Russia that is bogged down in a fight against a well-armed foe is less likely to seek another fight – especially a fight with much higher risks.

In my opinion, what the author, David French, is talking about is a lesson from World War II–namely, when one country invades or annexes another, that act of aggression must be rebuffed quickly at the beginning. If not, the aggressive nation will likely act aggressively in the future–until another country(ies) push back hard. The thing is, if you wait too long, the initial aggressor might become really powerful–powerful enough to be a threat to the U.S. In the case of WWII, the U.S. eventually had to join the war–paying a significant price in blood and treasure.

Instead of sending U.S. troops to fight in a massive war, wouldn’t it be better to arm Ukrainians, helping them stop Russian aggression before it escalates? I believe this is one reason helping Ukraine–in terms of helping them defend themselves against Russian aggression–matters to average Americans.

There’s also another, more abstract, but no less important, reason. And I’ll try going into that in the next section later.

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