I waged a cold war with Truman in my living room Monday, getting into a debate about whether we should care about the crisis in Ukraine. As fat snowflakes blanketed the D.C. metro area in a thick sheet of white, I reasoned that the United States needed to exert moral leadership and protect burgeoning liberal democracies such as the one in the former Soviet republic. I told him the crisis was as much about what we Americans think of ourselves, as it was about the plight of Ukrainians, many (most?) of whom are leaning away from the menacing bear in Moscow and toward Europe.
So I argued that the U.S. should rally the West to institute economic sanctions on Russia, send an aid package for Ukraine and gift a bra to Vladimir Putin to control his heaving man breasts.
Truman rolled his eyes and countered with the following:
– Does the crisis threaten the U.S. homeland?
– Does it endanger the American way of life?
– Does it threaten U.S. citizens, our national security interests, or our friends and allies?
– Is Ukraine a “friend” or “ally?”
– Do Europeans value a warm home as much as a free Ukraine? They might have to ask themselves that question if Russia retaliates against Europe by slowing down its natural gas exports.
Here’s a little more food for thought: In a Los Angeles Times op-ed by former foreign correspondent Doyle MacManus, a historian reminds us that Nikita Khrushchev invaded Hungary, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Hungarians: “And what did (President) Eisenhower do? Absolutely nothing.”
Which in the long run is what we might end up doing for Ukraine.
Since we’ve been in throwback mode regarding strategic adversaries, Truman provides this week’s Hump Day Song courtesy of The Beatles.