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Bohdan Vitvitsky: Ukraine and drive-by analysts - KYIV POST

30 Aug 2017 11:07 AM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

KYIV POST August 30, 2017 

Bohdan Vitvitsky: Ukraine and drive-by analysts

One would like to think that, after the catastrophes of Vietnam and the occupation of Iraq, individuals who claim some expertise in foreign affairs would at least have learned one lesson: that ignorance of local affairs and conditions mixed in with a dose of epistemological arrogance usually produces a pretty sorry admixture.

Vietnam turned out rather badly because we didn’t or didn’t want to understand that that conflict was more about anti-colonialism than about communism and falling dominoes, and also since we were ignorant of some 700 years of historical conflict between Vietnam and China, we couldn’t draw any correct inferences from that history about likely future Southeast Asian alignments. And appointing individuals with either superficial or no knowledge of Iraqi society to make decisions with profound consequences there could not result in anything other than what Thomas Ricks correctly called a fiasco.

What is striking about Michael Brendan Dougherty’s most recent analysis of whether we should provide Ukraine with defensive weapons in his “Let Ukraine Defend Itself” appearing in The National Review is that same superficial type of familiarity acquired from a distance.

But such superficial analysis is typically wrong. The main reasons why we should provide defensive arms to Ukraine are the Budapest Memorandum, if we read it correctly, and because it is in our national interest, as will be explained below.

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