The United States Must Continue to Support Ukraine

Mike Brice ’25

Contributing Writer

In September of 1938, British and French officials met with Adolf Hitler in Munich to discuss his desire to annex the Sudetenland. In what is now seen as one of the last moments that could have stopped Hitler, the officials gave him the Sudetenland in return for a promise that he would not take any more land in Europe.

If British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had stood up to Hitler at the Munich Conference, World War II could have been avoided. At least, they could have sabotaged Hitler’s plans, as his army wasn’t ready for conflict. In the coming weeks, The United States will have to come to terms with our own “Munich Agreement” in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Due to the role that the U.S. plays on the world stage, it must continue to back Ukraine in the war with Russia.

With the looming government shutdown and the GOP calls for less funding for foreign aid, support for U.S. aid to Ukraine has dwindled. Since the beginning of the Ukraine-Russia war, the U.S. has granted Ukraine more than $113 billion in support. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Congress in late September to request more money. Many Americans have expressed discomfort in providing Ukraine, a relative stranger to the U.S., with so much money. Most people believe the money could be best spent elsewhere. However, the general public must understand the U.S.’s role on the world stage.

After the disastrous effects of letting Hitler have his way and bully Europe, the U.S. has been hyper-focused on not allowing someone to take control of foreign territory and wreak havoc again. This philosophy reared its head when the U.S. committed military power to proxy wars across the globe in the late 20th century. The U.S. has assumed the role of enforcer on the global stage and, for better or worse, has done its best to beat up on the metaphorical bullies, while sometimes being one itself in the eyes of some.

Putin, the leader of the Russian Federation, has been pushing the limits on global laws for years. In 2014, Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation, and they suffered significant international sanctions. Now, Putin has fully invaded Ukraine and imposed his will on Russia’s sphere of influence. The war will be entering its second year of combat with Ukraine just launching its counteroffensive. The U.S., which has been streaming funds into Ukraine, will soon be reaching a major decision: supply Ukraine in its counteroffensive against Russia and risk a world war, or abandon Zelensky and Ukraine?

The U.S. cannot allow Putin to have his way with the Eastern European countries surrounding Russia. Of course, there is a limit to the U.S.’s ability to justify spending on Ukraine aid, but allowing Putin to seize power in a sovereign nation sets a terrible precedent. What’s to say that future tyrants won’t be empowered to follow Putin’s example with few consequences? If the U.S. is to be the supreme superpower and the “Global Enforcer,” it has to stop global tyranny, and that means continuing to support Ukraine.

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    David W Green '71

    Attempting to justify his demand for the continuation of the US proxy war in Ukraine, Mr. Brice evokes the seemingly timeless and good for all seasons Munich analogy. The argument is this: The failure to resist Hitler and defend Czechoslovakia in 1938 resulted in the outbreak of World War II. Therefore, the US and NATO must “stop” Putin before his Slavic hoards sweep westward… across the Vistula, the Oder, the Rhine, the Seine and the British Channel.
    How many times has the Munich analogy been trundled out to support one or another US war? Sixty years ago, the analogy to Munich justified the US intervention in Vietnam. If “we” don’t stop Ho Chi Minh from taking Saigon, so President Johnson’s argument went, the forces of the Viet Minh would soon be marching down Sunset Boulevard.
    Since the Vietnam era, the Munich analogy has been repeatedly deployed in Washington’s endless wars. There is always an enemy that needs to be stopped: Noriega in Panama, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Milosevic in Serbia, Gaddafi in Libya, Assad in Syria, Putin in Russia, and, looming in the not too distant future, Xi in China. The results of the wars of the last three decades have been the deaths of over a million people.
    A basic problem with analogies is that they are used to equate very different political situations. The concrete conditions present in a specific historical situation are simplistically generalized and used to legitimize a predetermined military plan of action. The Munich precedent presumably proved that all those perceived as enemies must be rubbed out as quickly as possible.
    Actually, the real lesson of Munich was not the necessity to wage preemptive war. The negotiations that ended in the abandonment of Czechoslovakia—not only by France and Britain but also by the Czech ruling elite—exposed the cynicism of imperialist diplomacy, the priority given to capitalist interests, and the hollowness of the democratic pretensions of the bourgeois class. The mere denunciation of the appeasement policies of Prime Minister Chamberlain fails to explain why the leader of British imperialism chose to appease Hitler. Among the major reasons was the hope that Hitler, rather than moving west, would hurl the German army against the Soviet Union, which had arisen on the basis of Bolshevik-led socialist revolution of October 1917. As Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, Chamberlain’s predecessor, stated rather bluntly in July 1936: “We all know the German desire, and he has come out with it in his book [Mein Kampf], to move east, and if he should move east I should not break my heart. … If there is any fighting in Europe to be done, I should like to see the Bolshies [in the Soviet Union] and the Nazis doing it.” [cited in The Soviets, the Munich Crisis, and the Coming of World War II, by Hugh Ragsdale, Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 4]
    Although he employs the appeasement analogy to justify support for the war, Mr. Brice indicates that quite a bit more is involved in the Biden administration’s obsessive fixation on Ukraine. He writes: “Due to the role that the U.S. plays on the world stage, it must continue to back Ukraine in the war with Russia.” Further, after expressing annoyance with the public’s “discomfort” with the war, Mr. Brice insists that “the general public must understand the U.S.’s role on the world stage.” And that role, according to Mr. Brice, “is to be the supreme superpower and the ‘Global Enforcer’” of what he refers to as “global laws.”
    Reading Mr. Brice’s fierce instructions to the “general public” leads me to wonder whether Trinity has included in its curriculum a course in world conquest.
    In any event, his own conclusions demonstrate once again how the Munich analogy is used an instrument of political propaganda to legitimize the hegemonic agenda of American imperialism. Perhaps Mr. Brice has not thought through the implications of his own arguments, and that it is not his intention to justify and support an agenda based on imperialist realpolitik.
    However, it is evident that Mr. Brice has been influenced by the massive pro-war media propaganda campaign. The latter has not been questioned, let alone seriously challenged, by historians in the academy. I hope that this will change. There is an urgent need to frame discussion and responses to the Ukraine conflict, which is rapidly and dangerously metastasizing into a global war that could result into a nuclear conflagration, in the appropriate historical context.
    David W. Green ‘71
    Editor, Trinity Tripod (1969)

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