What the West Owes to Ukraine

And what it doesn’t.

by Conrad Black

The Biden administration has one last bit of prestidigitation it can pull to salvage something from the midterm elections for the balance of its term. It is obvious that, despite the biases of most of the polls attached to pro-Democratic newspapers and left-leaning universities, the Biden administration is regarded by the majority of Americans as a failure and that the governing Democratic Party has misused its mandate and in four weeks is going to be rejected, probably decisively, at the polls.

The Democrats have played the only card they’ve had for the last six years: the confected and magnified hatred of the former president, Donald Trump, capped by the Keystone Kops invasion of Mar-a-Lago. The ensuing controversy reminded the country of Trump chaos, (even when it is caused by spurious attacks on Mr. Trump that he has to rebut), and President Biden’s disapproval gap narrowed by half to ten percent. Yet Mr. Trump managed to shunt it off to a special master, and the nonsense has died down.

It must be said that, contrary to those who imputed to the United States a predestination to decline and a governing class that is decadent and ineffectual, the bipartisan political class that rules Washington absolutely, though taken by surprise by Mr. Trump in 2016, has fought back with fierce and desperate vigor to regain their monopoly on the federal government.

It is the nature of this monopoly that while both sides come to bat in the White House and at the Capitol with reasonable regularity, between Presidents Reagan and Trump, most of the Republicans were look-alike Democrats and the unelected Democratic apparatus in Washington is well reflected by the presidential vote in that city which always favors the Democrats with over 90 percent of the votes in the District of Columbia, and heavy majorities in the adjoining districts of Virginia and Maryland.

The last hope for the Biden Democrats is Ukraine. President Putin obviously wants out and has staked out the four southeastern provinces and added them to Crimea as his takeaway — he has effectively thrown in the towel on completely crushing and reabsorbing Ukraine. Mr. Putin needs to add some territory to prevent an ultimately dangerous humiliation of Holy Mother Russia.

Meaning one that would leave it seeking revenge for the next 50 years, like France after the Franco-Prussian War, not to mention a possibly inadequate level of enthusiasm in the corridors of the Kremlin for Mr. Putin’s continuity in office. The territory that he claimed to annex last week can be reduced in size and all those people in all parts of Ukraine who would rather live in Russia can be assisted in moving there, and residents of “annexed” territory who would rather be Ukrainians can be assisted in moving to Ukraine.

And with that, Mr. Putin can be told that the Western Alliance will see to it that he gets no more, regardless of what levels President  Zelensky, who has won the world’s admiration, can be told that the national homeland of all who wish to be Ukrainian is secure and that the West will do what is necessary to assure the survival and reinforcement of Ukraine as an independent country.

We cannot, though, give him a blank check to keep the specter of nuclear war over the whole world in order to keep the Russian-speaking Ukrainians of the Donbas and Crimea in a country where they may not all belong. (Mr. Zelensky did not really call for a nuclear preemptive strike last week, just for some element of pre-emption; he was traduced by hostile, mischievous, or just incompetent media.)

The West had to defeat the Russian attempt to absorb Ukraine, in order to preserve its victory in the Cold War, to shatter the idea that the West was in inexorable decline, and to continue the eastward advance of the Western world. It also had to send the world the message, as it did in expelling Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in the Gulf War thirty years ago, that the West will not stand for the aggressive extermination of neighboring states.

Yet we have no obligation to take any risks to provide for more than an ample Ukraine, capable of joining the European Union if it meets its criteria for competent self-government, (which Ukraine has yet to do), and capable of peacefully building itself into a functioning integral state, something Ukraine has never been. Bismarck famously warned that “The great powers must not become involved in the quarrels of these sheep-stealers,” referring to the Balkans.

The same can be said of Central Europe. Mr. Putin made a serious mistake and he has been made to pay for it, and should be allowed to withdraw without Russia, one of the world’s great powers for 300 years, if probably (with China), the most poorly governed great power, being durably enflamed with an insatiable thirst for revenge. The West owes this much to Ukraine but not more.

This peace must be guaranteed by Russia and its remaining satellites and all of NATO, and this time, we must all keep our word. President Biden could achieve this quite quickly, or at least Secretaries Blinken and Austin could achieve it for him. This is the last train leaving the station. If they can’t catch this they are going to be an even more pitiful punching bag, at home and abroad, in the next two years than they have been in the last two years.

First published in the New York Sun.


6 Responses

  1. “confected and magnified hatred of the former president, Donald Trump, capped by the Keystone Kops invasion of Mar-a-Lago…spurious attacks on Mr. Trump”

    Conrad Black is a laughable propagandist. Donald Trump made false claims about the 2020 election which have been thoroughly debunked (indeed, he refused to pledge to respect the result, before election day, on national television). That is a fact. Donald Trump and his associates incited a violent attack on the United States Capitol. That is a fact. Donald Trump unlawfully removed classified documents from the White House (and likely destroyed many more). That is a fact.

    Vote against the demagogues and election deniers next month. They are the answer to none of our country’s problems and are a problem themselves.

    “In the four years since, Fox viewers had become even more accustomed to flattery and less willing to hear news that challenged their expectations. Instead of understanding his narrow win in 2016 as the upset it was, they were told forecasters were going to be wrong again. Me serving up green beans to viewers who had been spoon-fed ice cream sundaes for years came as a terrible shock to their systems.”

  2. What does the West owe the Ukraine? Nothing.

    The 1991 borders should never have been accepted as default state borders (Novorossiya and the Crimea were never a part of the historic territory known as the Ukraine, and were added to the Ukrainian SSR by Lenin and Khrushchev as part of internal USSR admin border manipulations) and were always going to lead to catastrophe if one side of a heavily-divided state began to lord it over the rest (as the Western Ukro-Nazi regime did after the 2014 US/NATO-backed coup, waging a 9 year – still ongoing – terror war against the people of the Donbass, during which the Kiev regime boasts of having killed 14,000 “orcs” so far).

    (FWIW I think the West’s irrational anti-Russia hatred for the past 15 years or so has more to do with Russia’s refusal to get on-board with the Woke left’s LGBT+blah blah global crusade than anything).

    In any case – Long live Putin of All the Russias!

  3. “the West’s irrational anti-Russia hatred for the past 15 years.”

    In the US it has been a Democrat hatred of Russia probably because the Russians gave up the Democrat’s favorite system: Communism. Trump had no problem with Russia. Obama, the Clintons and Biden did.

  4. It seems to me that the way out is not too far off.
    If you look at the most recent updated map, the Russians have control of most of the areas that they want (with the exception of the jewel, Odessa).
    Despite the media howling about the retaking of certain areas, I think we all know that these are just insignificant villages in the grand scheme of things. Putin and his Generals are prepared to let some sleeping dogs lie as they strengthen their bargaining position.
    The principle of “ownership is 9/10ths of the law” comes into play.
    Stalin used the very same policy at Potsdam and no doubt Mr. Putin will employ similar tactics when he gets more accommodating politicians into the fray after November.

    We’ll see.

  5. As long as the munitions suppliers can profit by buying polítical pawns and pimps, they will.
    A simple effective solution will emerge when ALL national leadership family members are placed in the front battlelines … family members extending to third cousins etc., to clean up the psychotic gene pool line.

  6. Re Europe/Asia: Why do we refuse to believe the obvious. The Islamic term ‘hudna’ explains it all – use treaties to build your military, then quit any constraining agreement and attack your weaker neighbor.

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