Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Why Ukraine has united hawks and their critics alike

By Damon Linker, The Week

I’ve been a harsh critic of U.S. foreign policy, and especially of analysts who favor the aggressive use of military force in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, for a long time now.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is different. For the first time in two decades, I find myself allied with neoconservatives and liberal internationalist hawks. Not on everything — and especially not with those who favor imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which I think would quickly and recklessly precipitate a war between NATO and Russia. But on much else, I now stand shoulder to shoulder with many of the same people with whom I’ve passionately disagreed since the early days of the War on Terror.

Have they changed or have I? The answer, I think, is that neither of us have. What’s changed is the character of our antagonist. What worked during the Cold War once again fits the situation in which we find ourselves, whereas that same approach was terribly ill-suited to the enemy we faced during the years following 9/11. It’s important to understand this difference and what it tells us about the challenges that likely await us over the coming months and years.

I came to political self-awareness during the 1980s and was quite supportive of President Ronald Reagan’s reintensification of the Cold War. That isn’t to say I was a full-spectrum teenaged hawk. I’ve never considered the Vietnam War anything other than a colossal blunder and tended to think many of our military interventions in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s were counterproductive. But Reagan’s sharp increases in defense spending, deployment of missiles to Europe, and rhetorical confrontation with the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union seemed reasonable to me at the time.

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