U.S Intervention in Ukraine has Americans Asking Why?

Megan R.

Staff Writer

It has been said that the Russia-Ukraine conflict is reminiscent of the Cold War over fifty years ago. For those who can remember that dark and paranoid time, this is a very frightening idea. Although no formal declaration of war has yet been released, it seems that military aggression could erupt at any moment. The idea of another war has many Americans panicked. As the Iraqi conflict seems to be coming to a close, who could blame the American public for wanting some peace time?
When the Ukrainian conflict began to gain attention in January, Americans, as a democratic and free people, were certainly concerned, as no country should be bullied into making political decisions. Much like the Truman Doctrine during the cold war, the United States still feels that it is their responsibility to ensure the spread of democracy, or at least the containment of Russia. However, when America intervened in Korea and Vietnam in the 1950’s, the public was hardly supportive. A report from 1975 shows that over half of those citizens interviewed were not in favor of getting involved in the affairs of large countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. Why would that be any different now?
Perhaps the fear of another world war has the public reluctant to assist in the Ukraine. After all, the generation that existed during the last world war is slowly dwindling into old age. The generation that is voicing their opinion, however, has not experienced such a catastrophic event firsthand. Americans under fifty have a vague idea of the cold war struggle. The most catastrophic event in their lifetime was 9/11. The only ideas they many have about World War 2 are from romanticized war movies like Casablanca or Saving Private Ryan. Although the U.S. fought wars between now and then, going up against Russia is a horse of an entirely different color. Until this point, conflicts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries have been against smaller, politically unstable countries. Intervening in the Ukrainian conflict would by no means be another Vietnam War. Russia is a massive force, both militarily and geographically. Their location presents risks of alliances with Asian countries, as well as proximity to America’s Pacific border.
PEW Research Center released a study April 28th that stated that most Americans are opposed to military intervention in the Ukraine. One of those interviewed stated, “I think America needs to keep their nose out of it,” He went on to explain that America needs to focus on what is happening in the U.S first. “I saw today that kids over here are going hungry. You see that around the world, but I never thought I would see it here.” PEW reported that almost seventy percent of interviewees, between ages 18 and 30, are opposed to using military force. Sixty percent of those interviewed, who lived through the cold war, are also opposed. Although some still support intervention in the Ukraine, the vast majority have clearly said no.
Regardless of the public’s wishes, members of congress, such as John McCain, are pushing for a more powerful reaction against Russia. Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee stated, “Vladimir Putin is seizing a neighboring territory — again — so President Obama must lead a meaningful, unified response with our European allies.” Corker went a step further, adding that the U.S and Europe have failed to “make clear there would be serious, potentially irreparable consequences to [Russia militarily intervening in Ukraine].” Although none of the official statements from congress have explicitly called for military involvement, what could be a more irreparable consequence?
Other congressmen believe that by not acting, the U.S. is losing its position as a world power. However, of the major world powers such as EU membersukraine 3 pic 2 and China, the U.S. has thus far taken the most aggressive and straightforward approach against Russia. It appears that republican representatives are using the Ukrainian Crisis to disparage President Obama once again. “[The congress] normally try to rally around the commander-in-chief at moments like this, but there’s not a whole lot to rally around. This is the sign of a weak president,” comments Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina republican. Although President Obama certainly has his faults, is it really worth risking American lives to prove such an arbitrary point? Similar to the intervention in Vietnam where over 58,000 soldiers were lost, going up against Russia could have even higher costs and little gain. In the political game of chess, the republicans in congress seem to think American lives are their pawns.
As of right now, President Obama has yet to authorize any military action in Ukraine, Russia or Crimea. He has placed sanctions on several Russian political figures, but retaliation by the U.S. has been minimal. Mr. Allen Domenico, AP Psychology teacher, stated the U.S response “makes us look weak. It sends a bad message to countries like North Korea. This could create multiple conflicts, not just against Russia.” But the question remains, is it the responsibility of America to intervene in foreign affairs that are not directly affecting it? If America does not retaliate, is that truly weakness, or is strength found in those who are brave enough to walk away?

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