Damn Straight we Want the War “Prolonged”


In the last day of May conservative NYTimes opinion writer Christopher Caldwell wrote a piece that the headline writers entitled, “The War in Ukraine May Be Impossible to Stop. And the U.S. Deserves Much of the Blame.”  In the print edition the headline is “U.S. Helps Prolong Ukraine War”. 

Much of it is favorable quotes of a man named Paul Guanio, French advisor to former French President Sarkozy.  I quote parts of Caldwell's article and make my own criticisms in red.

Caldwell ritually condemns the Russian invasion, but then says

“But the United States has helped turn this tragic, local and ambiguous conflict into a potential world conflagration.”

What’s ambiguous about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine? Was the German and Soviet invasions of Poland in 1939 ambiguous?

“In 2014 the United States backed an uprising — in its final stages a violent uprising — against the legitimately elected Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych”

Yes, Yanukovych was elected, but he also responded to huge demonstrations on the Maidan with increasingly tyrannical laws and in the end had his security thugs shoot down demonstrators, including 50 who were shot dead on February 20. 

"Russia, in turn, annexed Crimea, a historically Russian-speaking part of Ukraine"

It is “historically” also Tatar until the czars subjugated them. Tatars were the largest single part of the Crimean population until the start of the 20th century.  Stalin ethnically cleansed them in 1944.  But why mention these evidently unimportant people?

"On Nov. 10, 2021, the United States and Ukraine signed a 'charter on strategic partnership' that called for Ukraine to join NATO."

No it didn’t.  The actual wording says, “the United States supports Ukraine’s right to decide its own future foreign policy course free from outside interference, including with respect to Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO.” It doesn’t call on Ukraine to do anything.

Yes, in the charter the United States mentions Ukraine a “strategic partner” of the U.S.   This committed the U.S. to exactly nothing.  At one point in the charter Ukraine is called a “NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner”.  This was U.S. language.  That didn’t commit NATO to anything either.

NATO once did declare that “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO“ but that was in 2008 and not last November.

Caldwell favorably quotes Guanio as saying, “That charter ‘convinced Russia that it must attack or be attacked.’”

Rubbish. The idea that Ukraine could invade Russia is nonsense.  Russia has 1.3 million soldiers and as the author of the article says in this article Ukraine as late as 2014 “barely had a modern military at all.”      

If this charter was such a big deal, why didn’t Putin mention it his last speech before the invasion on Feb. 21, 2022 or the one after the invasion started on February 24?

In the ‘90’s when there was a chance to de-nuclearize the world NATO should have been abolished along with the Warsaw Pact.  But the US and the “West” generally rather wanted an imperial tool to bludgeon little countries.  NATO’s wars against Serbia and Libya had nothing to do with “defending” the USA.  None of this, however, means that Ukraine or NATO was any kind of serious danger to Russia on Feb. 24, 2022

“Modern hardware began flowing during the Trump administration, though, and today the country is armed to the teeth.”

Wrong.  One Feb. 24, 2022 Ukraine was surely not “armed to the teeth” and it doesn’t have that capability even now when it has been rushed a lot of weapons.  Even now the type and quality of weapons being used by Russia in the invasion outnumber and outweigh those held by Ukrainian forces overwhelmingly.


“Thousands of Ukrainians have died who likely would not have if the United States had stood aside.”

Sure. If the British surrendered after Dunkirk thousands of British would not have died in the Blitz.  Yet for some reason the British didn’t want to do that.  Do you blame them?

"Both Russia and Ukraine have suffered heavy losses. But each has made gains, too. Russia has a land bridge to Crimea and control of some of Ukraine’s most fertile agricultural lands and energy deposits, and in recent days has held the battlefield momentum. Ukraine, after a robust defense of its cities, can expect further NATO support,..."

Russia has taken land and cities and Ukraine’s gain  is what…weapons?  Is there some equivalency here?

“The United States is making no concessions”

Which parts of Ukraine does Caldwell think the U.S. should propose that Ukraine give up?  More to the point provide any proof that the U.S. is strong-arming Ukraine not to make negotiating proposals. (see the ones Ukraine made on March 29, 2022)

My Conclusion

“Prolong the war”, the words imply that the Ukrainian cause is hopeless and Ukrainians should just give up. Yet Ukraine’s cause is far from hopeless. Ukrainians are fighting well though suffering terribly.   There are 34 million Ukrainian adults and the numbers who wanted to enlist after Feb. 24 were too many for their military to handle.  For its own reasons the U.S. and Western European countries are giving or selling Ukraine weapons. All that means they have a very good chance of inflicting heavy losses on Putin’s troops.  Already the number of Russian war dead in four months very likely exceed the 13,000 lost in Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 9 years.

It's pretty clear that Ukrainians want to fight on since the alternative is to give up at least 20% of their country (and maybe all of it eventually).  We on the Left should reject Caldwell’s arguments and show solidarity.

(BTW mentioning Sarkozy is pretty funny.  The former French president was convicted of corruption 2021 and has been sentenced to one year’s house arrest.]