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The Russo-Ukrainian War: A Misalignment of America’s Priorities?

Updated: Mar 24

American foreign policy since 9/11 has been adventurous, to say the least. Many wars have been fought, American lives lost and unspeakable amounts of taxpayer dollars spent. The question is, what for?

This is perhaps the most important question if we are to understand each era of U.S. foreign policy, the reasoning and whether it can be justified. 

The foreign policy of the Cold War was a product of its time. America sought to project its power as a means of countering the world’s joint superpower, the Soviet Union, in its attempt to create a worldwide anti-American socialist bloc; and so, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and many other proxy conflicts were fought on the existential basis of national survival.

After the collapse of the USSR, America became the unopposed champion on the global stage, allowing for more risky foreign policy excursions. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular, were expensive affairs that offered little in the way of tangible benefits. These wars are now seen as having contributed heavily to the destabilization of the Middle East, creating more problems than they solved.

The war in Ukraine has seen billions of U.S. dollars flood into foreign aid, $76.8 billion and counting to be exact. Is it really in the best interest of the average American right now to be sending such eye-watering sums of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to a country with no historical ties to America or the Western world to speak of?

It is no secret that NATO is a costly institution to maintain, and that the U.S. shoulders the majority of that burden. The continual expansion eastward to incorporate culturally distant nations that do not necessarily share Western values of liberalism is creating unnecessary geopolitical tensions.

After all, NATO was originally created as an organization to protect traditional U.S. allies in Europe who share common values, from the authoritarianism of the USSR and other countries to the East who might share similar tendencies. 

Collective security is important, to be sure. However, it works best when all member states share the same values, not opposing ones. The danger in continually incorporating culturally distant countries further and further to the East, is that it risks fracturing NATO along political lines.

Recently, member states such as Turkey who share opposite values to those of western Europe have proven to be a source of irritation for NATO. Even Hungary, a European nation, has exhibited that they are clearly opposed to many Western values, acting unilaterally to obstruct collective European action against Russia.

Other countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and more, have expressed interest in joining. Just because NATO can expand doesn’t mean it should. These prospect nations can hardly be described as sharing the values of Western liberalism. The reality is that these countries evolved separately over history, outside of the Western world. Cultural values and political norms are unlikely to make a dramatic U-turn overnight.

A move to incorporate Ukraine into the fray would likely spark yet another wave of NATO expansion eastward, overextending and undermining the unity and efficacy of the alliance. Ukraine is a conservative orthodox country with a strong sense of nationalism; a far cry from the secular liberalism and multiculturalism of Western society.

America has faced substantial political instability and civil unrest at home in recent years. Many American public schools are underfunded, putting the education of America's next generation at serious risk. Our public infrastructure is in a state of disrepair in many once great American cities across the country, all while the middle class continually watches their status erode year after year.

Perhaps it is time to focus on the well-being and unity of our own country before biting off more than we can chew abroad.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


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