Thinking Citizen Blog — Ukraine: Re-taking Crimea, Bombing Russia, Sending M1 Tanks, Israel
Thinking Citizen Blog — Monday is Foreign Policy Day
Today’s Topic: Ukraine: Re-taking Crimea, Bombing Russia, Sending M1 Tanks, Israel
Could Ukraine re-take Crimea? Should the Western powers give Ukraine the green light to bomb Russia? Why is the US withholding our best tanks? Why is Israel so non-committal? What questions related to the Ukraine do you think are most important? And what are the answers? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
IS SENDING THE UKRAINE OUR BEST TANKS A NO-BRAINER?
1. The Germans are apparently pressuring Biden to send M1 Abrams tanks to the Ukraine. What’s the hold up? The excuse is that the Ukraine already has enough tanks. Is this true? Are they as good?
2. But why would the Germans make sending their own Leopard 2 tanks contingent on the US dispatching the M1s? The UK has already agreed to send their top of the line: the Challenger 2 tanks — although only 14 of them.
3. With respect to the M1 tanks, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley “have cited how long it takes to train personnel to operate the tanks and how difficult the tanks are to maintain. They also have argued they are not the right vehicles for the fight in Ukraine right now,” Sounds pretty lame to me.
NB: Timing is critical. There is “a limited window for Ukraine to seize an advantage before Russia deploys hundreds of thousands of newly conscripted soldiers in an anticipated spring offensive.” Is the best historical analogy from the Second World War when the US supplied Sherman tanks to the British forces in North Africa .
IS HANDCUFFING THE UKRAINE BY NOT LETTING THEM BOMB RUSSIA THE RIGHT DECISION LONG TERM?
1. “The stronger case is to help Ukraine win rapidly with more arms and by scrapping U.S. restrictions on how Ukraine wages war.”
2. “The U.S. has said Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory are off-limits, and the practical effect has been to let Moscow concentrate forces on Eastern Ukraine without having to defend some of its own depots and bases.”
3. “Why should a dictator who rolled over a foreign border be free to claim his territory as sacrosanct?”
NB: “The rejoinder is that Mr. Putin might unleash a nuclear weapon, but the past months have shown that he will make that decision based on his own calculations in any case. If he does, he will face even more global ostracism and Western help for Ukraine.” “A long and ugly stalemate in Ukraine would put Russia in position to menace its neighbors for years to come, which would be even more costly for the U.S. and Europe. President Biden is receiving plaudits for keeping the Ukraine coalition together despite the economic and military strains. But the praise will turn to harsh and deserved criticism if the war grinds on and Russia wins its war of bloody attrition.”
WHY IS ISRAEL SO NON-COMMITTAL? (Zelenskyy is Jewish and the Jewish population of the Ukraine could be as high as 400,000 concentrated in the major cities highlighted in the map below)
1. “The main reason for Israel’s reticence, however, is its desire to remain on good terms with Russia, whose forces in Syria have been instructed not to oppose Israeli air sorties targeting Iranian assets and arms shipments to Hezbollah.”
2. “Israel fears that providing weapons to Ukraine would endanger this arrangement. As former Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz made clear to his Ukrainian counterpart in October, while Israel has provided humanitarian assistance and “life-saving equipment,” the bottom line remains that it “will not provide weapon [sic] systems to Ukraine.”
3. “Israeli public opinion is strongly sympathetic to Ukraine and critical of Russia’s actions, but few Israelis seem to favor providing lethal aid to the Ukrainians, particularly if it means picking a fight with Moscow. Russia has been keen to underscore potential consequences if Israel changes course. In what has been interpreted as a stark warning, authorities recently threatened to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency for Israel, which helps Jews emigrate to Israel.”
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Whenever you are wrong, admit it. Whenever you are right, shut up.” - Ogden Nash
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Please share the coolest or most important thing you learned in the last week, month, or year related to foreign policy. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in our life related to foreign policy.
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to consolidate in your memory something important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is the key to depth of thought. The prospect of imminent publication, like hanging and final exams, concentrates the mind. A useful life long habit.