It’s amusing to see some of the old arguments from Cold War days reappearing. Critics — mostly left-leaning — complained then that all this money spent on resisting the Soviet takeover of Europe would be better used at home. Today, it’s conservatives who make this same argument against our support of Ukraine.

Another trope from post-WWII days: Soviet Russia’s westward expansion was really defensive. Russia, you see, had suffered so much from outside invasions, it was only fair she should dominate neighboring countries. By mischaracterizing this as aggressive and threatening, and by encouraging the Eastern Europeans to resist, we forced the USSR into an oppositional posture. The Cold War was our fault.

Today, right-leaning critics have taken up the same position. We provoked the invasion. It’s our fault. We should have let Russia take Ukraine. These arguments were wrong then, and they are wrong now. Armed with its Marxist-Leninist ideology, the Soviet Union was a dangerous, expansionist power.

Today, Putin has abandoned the ideology, substituting for it Great Russian chauvinism, but retaining the expansionist impulse. The truth is that Putin, who has proclaimed that the greatest disaster of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Union, has made it unmistakably clear that his ambition is to reestablish the empire. The West didn’t provoke him. And, if not stopped in Ukraine, he will surely try for more.

James Roberts

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