In 2015, Europe faces two major problems. First, across the continent, rebranded Communists are selling the snake-oil of painless utopia, where government provides everything and balance sheets don’t exist. Second, Russia is invading.
Where the first problem threatens the future of millions of young Europeans, the second problem threatens the sovereign peace upon which the European project resides.
In fact, they’re emboldening him. After all, in his recent State of the Union address, President Obama claimed that he’d out-maneuvered Russia and won a defining victory. Simultaneously, multiple Ukrainian towns were falling to Russian forces. Where Obama measures foreign policy success by packaged statistics (whether the number of airstrikes against ISIS, or the stats on Russia’s economic condition), Putin measures physical reality. Now America has two solemn choices: allow Putin to seize Eastern Europe (Ukraine is only part of Russia’s regional strategy), or escalate to stop him.
If we chose to cede Ukraine, we should do so honestly, by strengthening economic sanctions on Russia but ending the pretension that we’ll do anything else. At a moral level, it’s fair to ask why we should do more: If European nations don’t care enough (the UK included) to invest in their own defense, why should Americans? Nevertheless, our clarity of purpose is critical. In U.S. foreign policy, false resolve is far worse than honest disinterest. Clear disinterest in one area allows us to maintain our credibility elsewhere, but when we abandon our word, American credibility is gutted everywhere.
Regardless, as we decide on next steps, all of us — whatever our opinions — must consider more honestly what we’re willing or unwilling to do, and how much European security matters to us. Our present confusion helps no one.
— Tom Rogan, based in Washington, D.C., writes for the Daily Telegraph. He’s a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and holds the Tony Blankley Chair at the Steamboat Institute. He tweets @TomRtweets.