Kori Schake ends a post about D-Day with a very strange conclusion:
We congratulate ourselves on our stalwart commitment; it looks more tenuous to those who’d suffered the viciousness of Nazi attacks and occupation while we remained safe. And it colors how they look at our reticence now to honor the Budapest Agreement committing to the territorial integrity of Ukraine, our skating backwards from the president’s red line on Syria, our hesitation to call a coup the Egyptian military’s overthrow of their elected government [bold mine-DL], and our proclamations about a common defense with our allies. Given how important allies are in warfare, we ought to give some considerable thought to being a better ally to the countries that are willing to stand alongside us.
Perhaps the U.S. should strive to be a better ally, but even so this is a ridiculous list of complaints. The U.S. hasn’t failed to honor the Budapest memorandum. That agreement gave Ukraine no security guarantees, and the U.S. and Britain aren’t obliged by it to come to their defense. Those claiming otherwise either don’t know what the agreement said or are simply making things up to suit their argument. Either way, it has nothing to do with whether or not the U.S. is being a good ally to its genuine allies. Enforcing or not enforcing the so-called “red line” in Syria had absolutely nothing to do with America’s reliability as an ally, and allied governments have no reason to worry about U.S. commitments to them because the U.S. didn’t bomb Syria.
The complaint about Egypt is a very odd thing to include here. Many hawks think that it would have been a mistake to acknowledge last year’s coup for what it was, because that would oblige the U.S. to suspend aid to Egypt that they would prefer to keep flowing. If the U.S. did follow its own law in this matter and suspended aid to the Egyptian military as it should, they would be among the first to declare that Washington was “abandoning” Egypt. They would indulge in all sorts of silly alarmist warnings about “retreat” from the region. We know many of them would do this because they have already made these arguments in response to the modest temporary freezing of aid that happened last year.
Now it’s true that there is much more to being a good ally or patron than simply indulging other governments in whatever they want, but that isn’t how hawks have looked at things over the last five years. They have been quick to criticize the supposed “abandonment” and “snubbing” of allies and clients all over the world whenever the U.S. does something in its own interest that annoys hard-liners in a handful of countries. In every case, the charge of “abandonment” has proved to be untrue. The U.S. should be a good ally to those countries it is obliged to defend, but in order to do that the U.S. also has to avoid unnecessary conflicts and it needs to avoid making endless vague commitments around the world that distract it from the truly important obligations that it already has.