March 17, 2022

Zelenskyy’s Speech

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy summoned memories of Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11 terror attacks Wednesday in an impassioned live-video plea to Congress to send more help for Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Lawmakers stood and cheered, and President Joe Biden later announced the U.S. is sending more anti-aircraft, anti-armor weapons and drones.” AP News

Many on both sides argue that the US should send Ukraine additional weapons but refrain from establishing a no-fly zone:

“It was impossible to listen to Zelensky's appeal and not be moved. But that doesn't mean we should let ourselves be moved to change course… Enforcing a no-fly zone means engaging and possibly shooting down Russian planes. It also means exposing our pilots to anti-aircraft batteries on the ground, which we would have to neutralize. That means war. Not necessarily involving nukes, but war nonetheless. It's hard to imagine anything more likely to revitalize popular support for Putin and his misbegotten escapade in Ukraine than its transformation into a battle with NATO for Russian honor… The last thing Zelensky should want to see now is a widening of the war that gives Russia something bigger to fight for.”

Damon Linker, The Week

“Ukraine’s suffering is terrible, but it does not rise to the level that we should risk a global economic or shooting war for which we are not prepared. But we should provide all other arms necessary to Ukraine’s defense. We can arrange for NATO to supply the S-300 air defense systems Zelensky asked for. And we should send Ukraine the MiG-29 fighter jets and other Soviet-produced aircraft in NATO countries’ arsenals and immediately backfill those countries with U.S.-supplied F-16s…

“The United States should also prepare Ukraine for the long game. It should allow Ukrainians to come to America to begin training on U.S. weapons systems such as F-16s or the Patriot missile defense system, which would likely become the foundation for a postwar Ukrainian military. Ukrainian pilots and technicians cannot use sophisticated Western arms in this war because they need extensive training to employ. Starting that process now would show Putin we will be with Ukraine for the long term and raises the specter that the almost unlimited supply of U.S.-made arms could be deployed in this war if fighting continues.”

Henry Olsen, Washington Post

“Putin’s threats of new actions in response to the transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets or S-300 surface-to-air missile systems are cheap talk. The transfer of planes or air defense systems will not trigger World War III. Given how poorly the Russian army has performed against Ukraine’s relatively small army, would Putin really escalate and attack the most mighty alliance in the world, anchored by the strongest military power in the world, the United States? Putin may be angry and unhinged, but he’s not suicidal. Threats to NATO front-line states become serious only if Putin wins in Ukraine…

“In all [likely] scenarios, Ukrainians eventually win. Our task in the West — those of us standing on the sidelines, watching Ukrainians bravely fight invading Russian armed forces alone — is to do all that we can to hasten the end of the war, and thus save Ukrainian (and Russian) lives. More weapons and more sanctions do just that."

Michael McFaul, Washington Post

“If comparisons to World War II are irresistible, we might take inspiration from the period before the Pearl Harbor attack drew the United States into direct combat with the Axis powers. Under Lend-Lease and other policies, America provided financial and military support to Britain without engaging in combat. Despite the best efforts of the British government — including lobbying efforts and media campaigns — the United States avoided war until we were actually attacked. That's a less exciting script than The Longest Day, Top Gun, or Independence Day. But it's the best option we have.”

Samuel Goldman, The Week

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