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The U.S. Hasn’t “Betrayed” Ukraine

Matthew Kaminski makes [1] 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.

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4 Comments To "The U.S. Hasn’t “Betrayed” Ukraine"

#1 Comment By Chad On April 14, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

“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.”

Is the “Washington” in this sentence a stand-in for the Obama Administration or is it to include Senators etc.? I’m not sure of where the Obama Administration has engaged in rhetorical overkill in regard to Ukraine.

#2 Comment By Andrew On April 14, 2014 @ 5:17 pm

For US to betray or not to betray Ukraine, US has to have a grasp of what is going on there. US doesn’t have a grasp, even after the visit of John Brennan to Kiev. At this stage the very definition of Ukraine as a state, let alone as a nation is absent. Junta in Kiev is not Ukraine and in fact, judging by the live pictures from Kiev, the new Maidan (Maidan 3.0) is already in progress.

#3 Comment By Leo H On April 15, 2014 @ 6:47 am

You can make quite a meal out of Kaminski’s propaganda piece. He obviously hates the Orthodox. He asserts, for instance, the Ukraine made an “original sin” error throwing off Polish rule and occupation in the seventeenth century. Bizarre. He ignores the German invasions of World War I and II. He lies about a popular uprising this February. He ignores the open meddling of the US State Department and CIA going on for months before Russia had to respond. He is in denial about the reality of a disaffected and pro-Russian half, at least.US intervention has already produced the crisis more US intervention can solve? Of course not. And, yes, in a way we have already “betrayed” the people of Ukraine by starting this mess. And are we ready to pay Ukraine’s gas bills, Mr. Kaminski?

#4 Comment By Labropotes On April 15, 2014 @ 7:00 am

NPR reported again this morning that Russia, the UK, and the US have failed in their promise to “uphold Ukrainian sovereignty.” What these states really promised was “to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.” When we say, “respect” NPR reads “wage kinetic and economic war on behalf of.”

Why is so much of the US media doin’ the propaganda rag, trying to stimulate a deeper conflict between the West and Russia?