Victor Davis Hanson
Ukrainians, and many Europeans and Americans, are defining an envisioned Ukrainian victory as the complete expulsion of all Russians from its 2013 borders. Or, as a Ukrainian national security chief put it, the war ends with Ukrainian tanks in Red Square.
But mysteries remain about such ambitious agendas.
What would that goal entail?
Giving Ukraine American F-16s to strike bases and depots in Mother Russia? The gifting of 1,000 M1 Abrams tanks? Using American Harpoon missiles to sink the Russian Black Sea Fleet?
A huge arsenal that would guarantee total victory rather than not losing?
Russia’s cruel strategy is to grind down Ukraine and turn its eastern regions into a Verdun-like deathscape.
So is a brave Ukraine really winning the war when it loses about 0.6 soldiers for every Russian it kills?
Russia plans to leverage its extra 100 million people, its 10-times larger economy, and its 30-times larger territory to pulverize Ukraine and tire its Western patrons—whatever the costs to Russia.
Yet why were only a few in past administrations calling for a joint Western effort to expel Putin’s forces from the borderlands and Crimea captured in 2014?
Why are Putin’s 2014 invasions now seen as urgent rectifiable crimes of aggression in 2022, but were not regarded as reparable during the prior eight years?
Is the United States economically capable or politically unified or socially stable enough to wage a huge proxy war on the frontiers of a nuclear Russia?
During the last comparable multibillion-dollar military efforts—the First Gulf War in 1990-1991 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq—the ratio of American debt to GDP was respectively 40 and 50 percent.
Today it hovers at nearly three times that figure at 129 percent, given some $33 trillion in accumulated debt.
Currently, the American economy is entering a stagflationary crisis. Banking, real estate, and financial sectors seem on the brink of imploding, especially after the near-record multibillion-dollar collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX, and the meltdowns of the Silicon Valley and Signature banks.
Around 7 million illegal entries have occurred across the southern border since January 2021 alone. Millions of new impoverished foreign nationals tax social services, spike crime, and strain relations with an increasingly antagonistic Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
An emboldened Obrador now brags that 40 million of his countrymen have cumulatively crossed the border, many illegally. He urges them to vote for Democratic candidates to ensure more open borders.
Last year, over 100,000 Americans died of opiate overdoses. Most of the deaths were attributable to Mexican cartels’ brazen export of fentanyl across an open border.
Nearly a million Americans have likely died of such overdoses since 2000—more than double the number of fatalities in World War II.
Given its shell-shocked inner cities and toxic downtowns, America is beginning to resemble mid-19th-century England that sent forces all over its global empire while novelist Charles Dickens chronicled the misery and poverty at the imperial core in London.
Is the Ukrainian war also creating the most dangerous anti-American alliance since World War II?
China is buying cheap Russian oil, while stealthily supplying its weapons.
India, normally a rock-solid democratic ally, keeps buying both banned Russian oil and armaments.
Most of the major countries in South America have not joined the sanctions.
Clients like nuclear North Korea and soon to be nuclear Iran are empowered by overt help from Russia.
NATO member Turkey and once-allied Saudi Arabia appear now friendlier to Iran, friendlier to China, and friendlier to Russia, than they are to America.
In terms of combined oil reserves, nukes, population, area, and GDP, this new loose coalition of apparent anti-Americans seems more powerful than the United States and its squabbling friends in Europe.
Why were those now calling for a veritable blank check for Ukraine formerly quiet when the United States fled in humiliation from Afghanistan?
Why were they mostly silent when an appeasing Joe Biden begged Vladimir Putin at least to spare some U.S. targets on his otherwise extensive anti-American cyberwar hit list?
Or why were they indifferent when Biden said he would have fewer objections if Putin’s anticipated attack on Ukraine would be “minor”?
Or why were they not so eager for confrontation when Putin earlier acquired the Eastern Ukrainian borderlands and Crimea in 2014 in the first place?
Or why so subdued when the United States in 2015-16 refused to sell Ukrainian offensive weapons?
Why does the United States discount the serial and ascending nuclear threats from Russia, but we remain careful not to antagonize China?
After all, China sent a spy balloon brazenly across the United States to surveille and spy on American strategic locations.
And why is the administration so quiet about a likely leak of an engineered deadly COVID-19 virus from a Chinese virology lab that killed 1 million Americans?
These are Ukrainian war-related questions that never seem to be answered—but should be as the carnage rises and the nuclear threshold falls.
26 thoughts on “Questions Without Answers About Ukraine”
Our “rise and fall of the Roman Empire” times are upon us. Rome fell from within, and so are we. Feckless politicians, over spending, growing godless self absorbed population, and large invasion of noncitizens are leading us along this path to destruction.
The simple, brilliant graphic headlining this article explains why we must insist that Ukraine begin peace negotiations with Russia. Although there is currently strong public support for depleting our armory to provide Ukraine with a seemingly endless supply of weapons, what good are weapons without soldiers to fire them? What happens when Ukraine starts running out of soldiers? Who will replace them?
Good question! Also, what happens when the USA starts running out of money and weapons? I hope we stop this nonsense before we find out . . .
All good points/ questions.
In my mind it the one factor that circumscribes both the problems and solutions is election integrity.
Unless & until integrity is restored to national elections, the follies listed in this article, domestic and foreign remain purposeful distractions by a group of actors who believe America to be evil, unjust and beyond saving as presently constituted.
There is far to much contributing to the demise of America for it to be either coincidence or incompetence.
Very True! I wholeheartedly agree!
A laundry list of competing negative factors. Necessary to understand our predicament and why it is so dire. Much of this would have been avoidable under better leadership. Any leadership, as far as that goes. Even Hillary would have been more forceful, directed and certainly more coherent than Joe. That’s saying something.
VDH, I have one nitpick, however. This quote: “virus from a Chinese virology lab that killed 1 million Americans”. Those of us on the conservative side continue to cite this exaggeration when it supports our side of the argument. It is a kind of shorthand but it is not anywhere near the truth. We are using the Left’s numbers to bolster our argument, and that is disingenuous.
Recall how much the Left greatly “enhanced” the number of covid deaths by incentivizing doctors and hospitals to report “died with covid” as “died from covid”. This was to push fear porn on the stupid public. That’s how we got to “1 million”. The actual number was likely 50,000 – 100,000. The old, sick and weak who were ready to die anyway. This has been documented many times.
Yet we continue to use ‘their” numbers when it suits our narrative.
That bothers me every time I see it. I understand the shorthand. It just bugs me.
No good can come from using dishonest numbers to reinforce our arguments. We should stop doing this, in my opinion. Every time we do this we are acknowledging and accepting their version of reality.
Good points! I hadn’t thought about it, but you’re right that even Hillary would have been forceful and consistent in whatever path she chose. The numbers juggling is a sharp point too.
Regarding numbers, if they are fake then we should not use them, even if it strengthens our argument. Weakens our case in the end.
I wonder if this not all Malthusian in a contemporary guise? It could be argued that the Depression, world wars and rise of Communism was a form of Malthusian correction in the 20th Century.
You Sir are the smartest man I know you have explained this to a T Maybe the house will read this and let everyone know without a doubt , it didn’t help economy when senate passed the last spending bill before Christmas I can’t believe McConnell went for the Omnibus I think we are doomed
Russia, china, Iran, Ukraine, North Korea, America, and Europe are all engaged in a game of ‘Blind Man’s Bluff’. There are no ‘rules’, just bluffs to make in the hope that no one takes off their blindfolds. and yet the first one to remove that blindfold will not necessarily be the winner, for it will change the game and all will remove their blindfolds and become far more engaged in the struggle to ‘Win’ the final game.
The questions are being addressed. If Uictor is unsatisfied with the answers he gets, then those with whom he disagrees are dissatisfied with his anemic counter-proposals. For an accessible round-table discussion of the various conservative views on offer see National Review Online’s multiple recent articles on the subject.
All great questions Professor Hanson and I would bet you could offer some convincing answers to each one. It seems to me that a basic issue here is the balance of world power. I don’t think many ordinary American citizens think in such terms – many think with their pocketbooks, winning or losing wars with the associated death toll. Most don’t have a regard or the implication for our unbridled National Debt of nearly $32 Trillion.
And now we learn today that China and Russia are teaming up to form a new world order! Talk about questions…. That announcement calls for more questions and begs answers to probably a 64 Billion Dollar Question(s) relative to a horizon loaded with troubles for the free world. These Bidenistas, as I call them, seem to be gazing into a crystal ball with popped or intentionally pulled circuit breakers. It seems to me that “they” want America to become a third world nation. Most every they do, domestically, economically or internationally seem to go against the rules for a healthy government and keeping world power in balance
The War in The Ukraine would have never started with Donald Trump in the Oval Office and Russia was not a Great threat to the US. This war is getting out of hand!
Joe Biden is leading us to a great crunch and many seem to be walking down the road right behind him to a crunch that the US cannot afford.
To answer your questions as to why: Because the Republic died long ago and now, we have a mob-ruled democracy, headed by authoritarian fascists. But…you knew that already.
He knew it, and blames the Ukrainians, and especially Zelenskyy for not finding a way to placate the beast the instant they turned it back from Kyiv. Always easier to blame the victim than oppose a Fascist Mob-syndicate with nukes.
So many valid questions but who will provide answers? Probably not President Biden. He has trouble figuring out which shoe goes on which foot. Probably not our media. They’re obsessed with arresting Trump. Sad shape…
So many questions of why all these events have transpired. I believe this to be the answer: It’s the systematic and willful destruction of our country. By destabilizing the once solid pillars of our society, and then undermining the foundation, it will all collapse in ruin. I think that these individuals hope to re-build their own version of “utopia”. It will likely become hell on earth.
Win or lose, Ukraine loses. Their country is destroyed. They better give up on Crimea, and,perhaps, the Russian speaking eastern territories. Zelenskyy and his wife will slip off to safe harbor, with millions, and live the good life in exile. Courtesy of the USA.
Zelenskyy has been proving for over a year that he’d rather die than take Joe Biden’s “ride”. Even if Zelenskyy dies, the Ukrainians are still in a mind to fight.
As long as The Big Guy and his handlers get their ten percent, all is well.
With rigged presidential elections, it may be impossible to elect another Republican. Take the Senate in 2024, hold the House. Impeach Biden. Then impeach whoever the VP is. Impeach cabinet members. This may be the only way to regain control of the executive branch.
Why ask why?
Our Manchurian president was one of many to get brainwashed/reprogramed (otherwise, ‘captured’) by the CCP, as VP 2008-16, feeding them US state secrets thru Hunter & UPenn/UDel. Twisting the 2014 CIA-orchestrated ‘revolution’ in Ukraine to weaken America (& cause Russia’s eventual alignment with the CCP) was a game plan. (One of many, no doubt.) It required planting Hunter there and removing Trump from power. Those who feed at the trough of the US war-industry were easier to ‘capture’ by first turning off the Afghan spigot.
Any change (I Ching) that weakens your enemy is a step forward. The game Go is played on a large board.
Remember when the newly ‘elected’ Biden had trouble speaking a minute or two with world leaders who called to congratulate him? But not with Xi; they ‘spoke’ for some 4 hours.
I like the “Afghan Spigot” reference. A different way of looking at the debacle.
ChatGPT summarizes this essay:
The essay argues that the envisioned victory of Ukraine over Russia, which entails the complete expulsion of all Russians from its 2013 borders, remains an ambitious goal that raises questions about the United States’ economic and political capabilities to wage a huge proxy war against a nuclear Russia. The author questions the urgency in the prior eight years of Putin’s 2014 invasions of Crimea and borderlands and the lack of a joint Western effort to expel his forces from Ukraine. The American debt to GDP ratio hovers at nearly three times the figure during the First Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the American economy is entering a stagflationary crisis. The essay also highlights the dangers of the Ukrainian war creating the most dangerous anti-American alliance since World War II, with China, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea empowered by Russia. The author poses several Ukrainian war-related questions that should be answered as the carnage rises and the nuclear threshold falls.
Neat. Thanks for posting that summary!
OK, but I keep hearing “appeasement’ through all that.