Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Arming Ukraine Is a Very Bad Idea | The Nation

As if to prove that the one thing the Washington establishment fears more than war is peace, Senate Armed Services chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and ranking member James Inhofe (R-OK) published an op-ed in The Washington Post on Monday calling for the United States government to arm Ukraine. The first indication that the primary aim of their article is to further destabilize US-Russian relations is its timing, coming as it does only a week after Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held what was generally seen to be a relatively constructive meeting in Paris. The last thing the denizens of Capitol Hill want right now is any sort of rapprochement with Putin's Russia, especially not in the run-up to the midterm elections. Putin is, after all, America's villain du jour.

Yet while the Senators' op-ed is tendentious in the extreme, it is actually fairly representative of the prevailing view among Washington's foreign policy cognoscenti and therefore merits some scrutiny. The senators pile on one dubious claim after another. Readers are told at the outset that "now is the time to add defensive military aid, including weapons, to our support of Ukraine." Exactly why the senators feel "now" is the right moment to do so is left unexplained. Surely funneling ever greater quantities of weapons into Ukraine is exactly the wrong thing to do, given that the September 5 cease-fire barely continues to hold in and around Donetsk. It would be tantamount to adding oxygen to a fire.

The Post's more discerning readers will also note that calling the proposed military aid "defensive" is merely an attempt to obscure the nature of what we would actually be doing: becoming a party to the conflict. The qualifier "defensive" is meant to give the impression of a difference—between so-called "offensive" and "defensive" weapons—where none exists. It is simply a distinction that hinges on intent. Are we seriously to believe that the United States has the power to discern in advance how Kiev actually intends to use the weapons? According to the Senators "these weapons are lethal, but not provocative" because of their defensive nature. Surely Moscow wouldn't dare argue with that kind of ironclad logic.

Readers are then asked to believe that a shipment of American arms into what is still a conflict zone is justified because "supporting Ukraine's desire for peace, freedom, territorial integrity and democracy supports values Americans hold dear." In other words, the senators are simply calling for the Obama administration to put into practice what some of the more sanguinary neoconservative activists have been calling for since 9/11: that America, per Max Boot's infamous formulation, should "impose the rule of law, property rights, and other guarantees, at gunpoint if need be."

Complete story at - Arming Ukraine Is a Very Bad Idea | The Nation

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