The United States has an interest—pursued in both world wars and in the Cold War—in a stable, peaceful Europe, preferably of free nations. Thus, Ukraine’s success would be also America’s success. The heavy lifting of systemic reform and defending the country will be Ukraine’s responsibility. But the United States and its allies can help. The price for the United States (and the EU) in assisting Ukraine is very small: several hundred million dollars a year in economic and military aid, and sanctions on a bellicose Russia. This is a wise and realistic policy.
To compare this to our policy in Vietnam, with its 58,000 American dead and hundreds of billions of dollars in expenditures, or Iraq, with 4,400 Americans dead and three trillion in expenditures, is not realist wisdom; it is just plain wrong.
John E. Herbst is the director of the Eurasia Center and a former US ambassador to Ukraine.
This first appeared on the Atlantic Council's website here.