Is Ukraine Worth World War III?

I hope this is a question that never needs to be contemplated in real life. But I could see it happening. The U.S. seems to act like it is completely rational for us to expect Russia to acquiesce to what they understandably perceive as an encroachment by the West, and particularly by the U.S. State Department. We are facing an extremely volatile situation when the world financial system is facing record-breaking instability.

Consider the Telegraph’s report, “Russia admits that it has moved troops in Ukraine.”

Russian troops have moved into Crimea in what Moscow is calling a mission to “protect Black Sea Fleet’s positions” but which the Ukrainian government has denounced as an “armed intervention.”

The Russian foreign ministry said Friday that it had informed the Ukrainian government that armoured units from the Black Sea Fleet base near Sevastopol had entered Crimea in order to protect fleet positions.

This is the kind of situation that could easily turn into war. When I listen to the news on the radio I’m surprised that no one suggests that might happen. The latest (as I write this) is that Obama has “issued a blunt and direct warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin: stay out of Ukraine.” The President, forgetting years of drone policy, stated that Ukraine’s national sovereignty must not be violated.

So what happens if Vladimir Putin ignores that warning? Given what he may think is happening to any pro-Russian politician at the hands of the partisans of the nationalist government, and the risk of losing Crimea, it seems plausible that he might take a military option. If he does so, what should the U.S. do?

I’m sure the government will find some way to “voice its disapproval,” but as far as military action is concerned, the U.S. should stand down. Ukraine is not a country of vital interest to the United States. We are already more involved there than we should be, to our own great embarrassment. We are too far away to referee all the issues of justice that are involved. But more importantly, the U.S. government has a duty to the American people to not overburden them or to put our soldiers in harm’s way for a reason that is not vital to American security.

I say this in part because of John Kerry’s hour-long rant against the “new isolationism” and his complaining that, “We are beginning to behave like a poor nation.” Too bad we didn’t begin behaving like a poor nation earlier. Then we wouldn’t be so poor now.

Sadly, Kerry’s claim that the U.S. is retreating from the world is false. But pushing further into Ukraine would be an insane decision.