The Progressive ‘Policy Community’ Ukraine Fantasy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine November 19, 2019. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)
The Ukrainians merit our support as an enemy of Moscow, but they’re still a nasty, untrustworthy bunch.

‘A strong and independent Ukraine is critical to U.S. national security.” This is the gospel according to Lieutenant Alexander Vindman, self-proclaimed member of our federal government’s “policy community,” the interagency conglomerate of experts on which Democrats are staking their case for the impeachment and removal of President Trump.

We need Ukraine as a “strategic partner,” Vindman told Adam Schiff’s impeachment-inquiry panel. We need it to be “stable, prosperous, and democratic,” a nation that is “integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community.” On this our vital interests depend, we’re told, because Ukraine is a front-line state and a “bulwark against Russian aggression.”

This, indeed, is why we’re supposed to be appalled at a new disclosure in testimony last week by Ambassador Bill Taylor, another policy-community stalwart. He says someone told someone that someone heard the president say he cared more about getting Ukraine to investigate possible Biden-family corruption than he did about Ukraine itself.

Imagine not caring about . . . Ukraine!

I can. In fact, I don’t have to imagine it.

I am pretty sure I care more about Ukraine than President Trump does. That said, it’s a lousy country. I’m very sympathetic to the goal of supporting it as a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s formidable anti-American regime. But I am certainly much more interested in knowing about what the Bidens were up to in Ukraine (and China), and in getting a full accounting of Ukraine’s collusion with Democrats in connection with the 2016 election, than I am in Ukraine.

Why is that appalling?

The United States pours hundreds of millions of dollars and matériel into Ukraine. To listen to the Democrats’ policy-community witnesses, you would think every dime, every last bullet, is going to Kyiv’s desperate effort to stave off Moscow. To listen to them, you would never know that U.S. taxpayer support goes to Ukrainian military services that gleefully incorporate neo-Nazis and other blood-and-soil extremist nationalists into their ranks — thugs who’d like to purge ethnic Russians in Donbas after they’ve extinguished the Jewish and Roma minorities.

You know what else is appalling? The way these Ukrainian forces make common cause with Chechen Islamists, enabling Putin to maintain the pose of a potential partner in battling the global jihad — i.e., the jihad with which Putin willfully aligns when the Kremlin sees advantage in it.

Of course, you probably haven’t heard that story. You’ve heard a fairy tale about Ukraine — progressive, oriented toward Europe, committed to human rights, longing for Western pluralism. It’s the story Democrats, progressive Republicans, and LTC Vindman’s vaunted “policy community” have successfully peddled for five years.

Once you buy the story, you’re predisposed to think it inconceivable that Donald Trump could withhold desperately needed military aid from Kyiv as it nobly struggles against the bully next door that is gobbling up its eastern flank — aid that, by the way, he ended up giving them, aid the military value of which, in the Trump administration, has been significantly stepped up from what it was in the Obama years.

I am not suggesting that President Trump was without motivations based on domestic electoral politics in slow-walking security aid to Ukraine. But that said, it was not the only motivation.

The president is skeptical about the prudence of pouring foreign aid out of our Treasury when we are $23 trillion in debt. He is skeptical about funding that entangles the United States in conflicts entanglement in which may not be in our vital national interests. And he is skeptical about Ukraine, a pervasively corrupt country in which the competing factions feature elements that reject Western principles of liberalism, pluralism, and respect for human rights.

You can certainly agree, as I do, with the policy community’s assessment that Ukraine, for all its flaws, is worth supporting for the greater good of thwarting the Kremlin. But that does not mean the policy community’s fantasy depiction of Ukraine is any more accurate than our policy professionals’ well-intentioned delusions about sharia-democracy promotion in the Middle East.

You can certainly disagree with President Trump’s skepticism about Ukraine. But you cannot credibly say that harboring doubts is irrational, nor deny that, notwithstanding his doubts, the current president has done far more for Ukraine’s security than the last one.


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