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USA | Mar 12, 2022

Ukraine: An opportunity for the US to reassert its preeminence in international affairs

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

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A wounded man is evacuated as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Irpin outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 12, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has again seen armed conflict engulf cities in Europe with the US having to take a position and act upon it.

The US and NATO have been criticised for not making a more fulsome military commitment to help Ukraine repel the invaders. There are those who say there is a need for boots on the ground.

There is merit in the current position as the US remains determined not to spark the commencement of World War III which could see the engagement of nuclear weapons.

After missteps made in both Syria and Afghanistan, the US has to get this one right. Russian hegemony has remained unresolved for decades and there was a certain amount of looking the other way both with Crimea and Georgia.

Rather than act upon a reflexive impulse to confront Putin militarily, the US has managed to employ economic weaponry that is proving as equally destructive while preserving lives and not having to send armies into theatres of wars in Europe.

By galvanising allies and working together to impose economic sanctions, the US, just like Russia, is encircling the enemy and slowly but assiduously strangling the life out of it.

The United States has managed to be at the epicentre of reinvigorating Europe in a common cause, standard-bearers of liberal democracy, Western values and condemnation of subjugating smaller, less powerful countries by military might.

This may well prove to be a hallmark of the Biden legacy and could put him up there with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “Uncle Joe’s” response to the challenges he faces could make him a defining figure in America’s history.

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives aboard Air Force One at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. March 11, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

The coronavirus pandemic is not yet over and it is still impacting the world’s largest economy. Biden was elected to provide solutions and steer America to a benign, post-COVID era.

Racial tension, culture wars and political partisanship are cancers in the body politic and it will take a skilled surgeon to extract them.

Inflation, surging oil prices, the need to rehabilitate ageing infrastructure are also pressing concerns for Biden. He too is besieged on many fronts. This is a test of both American and Biden’s resolve; both must not fail.

Russia under Putin’s leadership has declared itself a threat to European and American security. In the first decade of this new century, Islamic terrorism was the preeminent danger to western security. As the first quarter of the century draws closer, attempts to redraw the map of Europe and re-establish the Russian empire pose a clear and present danger.

A column of smoke rises from burning fuel tanks that locals said were hit by five rockets at the Vasylkiv Air Base, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 12, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

As Ronald Reagan became a hero to the Republican Party, can Joe Biden be the answer for the Democrats?

Biden has made it clear that all must be done to avert World War III and he is right. He must be mindful not to exclude China as a mitigator in this conflict. For the first time in centuries, its voice must be heard in international affairs. To date it has straddled the fence, not condemning Putin but neither trumpeting full-throated support for his actions.

If the US and China can come together on this Russian situation it will bode well for future relations between the two and mark a rapprochement that can translate into better cultural and commercial relations.

Biden must reach out to China in the east and let Xi Jinping know, “We need you to help us resolve this.” This will require great diplomatic skill and may require Biden drawing in professionals like Condoleezza Rice and Leon Panetta here.

The sanctions will isolate and cripple the Russian economy. Citizens and the oligarchs are already feeling the effects and the winter chill is likely to extend into spring and summer. How long can Russians put up with it before they point the finger at Putin?

Ukrainians are their brothers and sisters; they are not longstanding foes. As time goes on, it will be difficult for Putin to justify this war to his people. If he had managed to knock out Ukraine in a fortnight them, it would have strengthened his hand. However, President Volodymyr Zelensky has spearheaded stiff resistance and is calling for the world to come to Ukraine’s aid. But he must be mindful that the prospect of Armageddon is a reality if countries take arms against a formidable nuclear power.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 10, 2022 in this still image taken from video. (Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/via Reuters TV/Handout via REUTERS)

Time has allowed the world to side with Ukraine and see its cause as just. The images of bombs reigning down on hospitals and schools, the blood-curdling anguished cries of the wounded have not gone unnoticed by Americans who are demanding something be done about Russian aggression.

At this time, the right decision has been taken to arm and help supply the Ukrainian resistance force. Russian tanks and troops must not be emboldened to march on other European countries. Russia must not be allowed to claim the US instigated the next great world war.

As in life, timing is a factor in politics. Bellicosity and alpha posturing can only inflame the situation. There is a level of unpredictability with Donald Trump and a cool head is needed. One can only wonder what his approach would be as ‘Leader of the Free World’. As we all know, the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn is enthralled with Russia. Just imagine if he were prime minister at this fraught time.

In the foreseeable future, Europe will undergo a degree of retrenchment. America and China will be the gravitational powers of this world. Military spending will increase, and the US will be the beneficiary.

A tank with the letters “Z” painted on it is seen in front of a residential building which was damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the separatist-controlled town of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 11, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

Ukraine will need to be rebuilt and there will be a demand for American expertise.

Just when the world began to doubt American peerlessness, it has a chance to change everybody’s mind and reassert its august attributes.

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