A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Here--let us hold your jacket

One of the curiosities and conundrums of the Ukraine situation is the heated rhetoric from the West along with the lack of interest in really doing anything, except by the U.S., which contributes the largest proportion of NATO's budget (80 percent) while European countries have reduced their military budgets.

Here is the Economist, foremost British opinion magazine, inviting us to take charge: "That is why the West needs to show Mr Putin that further action will be costly. So far, its rhetoric has marched far ahead of its willingness to act—only adding to the aura of weakness. Not enough is at stake in Ukraine to risk war with a nuclear-armed Russia. And European voters will not put up with gas shortages, so an embargo is not plausible. But the West has other cards to play. One is military. NATO should announce that it will hold exercises in central and eastern Europe, strengthen air and cyber defences there and immediately send some troops, missiles and aircraft to the Baltics and Poland. NATO members should pledge to increase military spending."

Going to war over Ukraine is in no one's interest. Yet, as long as the EU, including Britain, offers to hold our coat and stand back, diplomacy and sanctions, such as they are, will be ineffective.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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@ MOS:  Agreed.

I would just add that perhaps our brave allies [most especially Germany and France] could send maybe several companies - even a division - of armed troops to assist the Ukrainians maintain their independence and territorial integrity until the new Ukranian government can stand-up their own defenses.

Putin like most bullies will continue to push the Ukrainians around if he thinks it is cost free.  But, I think he would think twice about confronting NATO combat troops - as was the case for the Soviets for the forty years of the Cold War.

Besides, it would give NATO something to do in this time when our European friends think they don't have to pay any price anymore for their freedom and prosperity - that mainly has been made possible because of the sacrifice of the American taxpayer.  

Either the Europeans use some of that military hardware we've bought and paid for, or perhaps the US really should bring all of our army home to America.

One thing The Economist has in common with NATO and Brussels in general, President Obama, France, Germany and even Sen. John McCain is that we aren't going to start a shooting war. That said, what would be the point of military maneuvers and other armed provocations? In playwriting, it's a rule that you don't show a gun in the first act that you are not going to fire by the third act. [I know: There are no three-act plays anymore, but that just shows how old the rule is.] ISTM that Western governments ought to be as careful with their gun-waving as playwrights are.

The world might be a better place if the US brought it's military back home.After the million Iraqi dead, the million Afghan dead,the use  of terrorism as blowback for our policies and military bases in their homelands, and the holocaust taking place in Syria, which in spite of our military presence in the region, we have shown  no intention to stop; our military abroad  may be a detriment to mankind,not an asset. If only the Europeans would have the guts to tell the Americans to get their military bases outta their homelands.Till they do, the American taxpayers will always presume that the Europeans are their subordinates.

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