The few of you who have any knowledge of history may feel a bit of deja vu when you hear charges of Ukrainian corruption from the likes of Tucker Carlson and his fellow isolationists.
But first, do the charges have any credence? They absolutely do. Ukraine, like most other post-communist governments and indeed like governments around the world including ours, has their share of corruption. I wrote about it extensively before the Russian invasion. However, compared to the bigger stakes at play here, who cares? Which brings us back, as every single question on national security should, to history.
There was once another corrupt country that was in a very bad regional neighborhood. The leaders of this country were up to their eyebrows in graft and nepotism. They were also at war and were receiving American help. Then, it was the hard Left, not the isolationist populist Right, who whined that we shouldn’t aid them because they were not squeaky clean. Apparently, not passing the do gooder test of honest government precludes a nation from receiving military aid when they have been invaded. At least, according to some people.
Well, the gooders eventually got their way and we stopped aid. And when South Vietnam fell every prediction that the naive gooders said wouldn’t happen came true. Re-education camps, boat people, further war, and the Domino Theory had all been scoffed at by the hard Left as paranoid conservative fantasies. But they all happened just as conservatives said they would. The Killing Fields of Cambodia were a direct result of our abandonment of South Vietnam.
Now we are hearing the populist Right make the same arguments about Ukraine that the Left made about South Vietnam, that they are not models of administrative propriety and thus should not receive American aid.
This Jimmy Carter-like emphasis on geopolitical morality is for children who see the world in black and white, not for adults who can perceive the murky shades of gray that permeate national security affairs.
Do we think the aftermath of a Russian victory in Ukraine, if we pulled out of the fight, would be much different than the fate North Vietnam handed out to South Vietnam? We already see the modern version of boat people, over 4 million of them, streaming into free countries in Eastern Europe. What are the chances that we would see the Balts fall in the same domino theory effect we saw in Laos and Cambodia? They are massive. Re-education? The Russians would stamp out Ukrainian culture and national identity. Putin has already said he would, calling the Ukrainians actually Russians and thus not needing a separate identity from Russia.
And most ominously of all, when Putin went after the Baltic dominos he would run into NATO. Which means we could be committed to a land war in Eastern Europe. Oh wonderful. All this could transpire if the isolationists convince us to abandon Ukraine like hard Left Democrats betrayed the South Vietnamese. For honor, for simple human decency, and for our own future, we can’t let that happen. Ukraine must be supplied. Ukraine must win.