Matthew Kaminski makes an obnoxious accusation about the U.S. and Ukraine:
But Ukraine expects and deserves America’s support by every other means that Washington has refused so far. Betrayal is an ugly word and an uglier deed. Europe and the U.S. will pay dearly for it in Ukraine.
It’s strange to think that the U.S. has “betrayed” Ukraine, when the U.S. has already done far more for Ukraine than it is obliged to do. The U.S. has also done far more than it should have done in Ukraine since this crisis began last year, which has had the unfortunate effect of creating unrealistic expectations about the kind of help that might be forthcoming in the future. If Ukraine’s government expects “America’s support by every other means that Washington has refused so far,” that is only because of rather careless administration rhetoric that led them to believe they would be given much more than they were ever likely to receive. If there is one thing that links all recent administration foreign policy errors, it is the tendency to seem to promise more than it is realistically going to deliver.
The U.S. wasn’t going to provide the sort of backing for the Syrian opposition that its members wanted, but it offered just enough to give them reason to think that more might be on the way. When the administration briefly agitated for military action in Syria last year, this also gave the opposition the wrong idea that substantial future support was still possible. Likewise, there have always been very clear limits on what the U.S. was likely to do to support the Ukrainian government, but those limits have been obscured by more of the rhetorical overkill from Washington that has regrettably become all too common. It wasn’t an error to acknowledge that Ukraine isn’t joining NATO in the near future, nor was it a mistake to rule out military intervention, since neither of these would have the desired effect and would almost certainly have made things worse. The error was to give Ukraine’s leaders false hope that the West would come to their rescue, when that was never going to happen. Fortunately, the administration has not been quite so foolish as to make threats of military action that it would later have to disavow. Nothing would be more senseless than to make a commitment that everyone knows would never be honored simply to avoid an accusation of “abandoning” a country that the U.S. was never going to defend in the first place.