By Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review
Back in 2014, after Russian strongman Vladimir Putin had annexed Crimea and, in essence, launched the war in Ukraine that he has now mobilized forces to finish, Rich (Lowry) wrote an excellent column on Putin’s ambitions. On July 17 that year, the terrorist “separatist” forces Putin had dispatched into Donbas (which stoked the sedition that evolved into the pretext for last night’s full-on Russian invasion) shot a Malaysia Airlines civilian aircraft out of the sky, killing all 298 people aboard. As Rich observed at the time:
The downing of Flight 17 is of a piece with Putin’s lawless aggression. Having already absorbed Crimea, he seeks to further dismember a European country for the offense of seeking to govern itself in keeping with its values and interests.
In the piece, Rich (National Review’s Editor in Chief) went on to highlight President Obama’s dithering — issuing vapid warnings that Putin laughed off and refusing to provide the Ukrainian military with arms to defend themselves. Eli Lake added more details: Among the defensive assets our government has denied Ukraine is “radar jamming and detection equipment necessary to evade and counter [Russian] anti-aircraft systems” — like the system Putin’s unlawful combatants had used to shoot down Flight 17.
But Obama would not arm the Ukrainians. It was not until Donald Trump became president that they were provided with serious defensive weaponry, though it would obviously never be enough if Putin decided to mass Russia’s far superior forces and invade — which he waited to do until Obama’s vice-president, Joe Biden, was in the Oval Office.
I contended in 2014 that “We should be arming the Ukrainians not only because it is in our national interest to repel Putin’s ambitions, but also because we are the ones who disarmed the Ukrainians.” I remain convinced that Obama would not arm Ukraine because, as a senator, he had spearheaded the congressional effort to disarm Ukraine.
Mind you, Obama did nearly nothing but run for president in his fleeting Senate years. Rendering Ukraine defenseless — in collaboration with then-senator Richard Lugar (R., Ind.), a pillar of Washington’s bipartisan consensus that it is weapons, not rogue regimes, that make the world a dangerous place — was the prodigy’s way of showing he was ready to direct U.S. foreign policy.
To repeat what I said at the time, “The American government official who was at the forefront of disarming Ukraine was none other than Senator Barack Obama. The Daily Mail had the report back in March:
As a U.S. senator, Barack Obama won $48 million in federal funding to help Ukraine destroy thousands of tons of guns and ammunition – weapons which are now unavailable to the Ukrainian army as it faces down Russian President Vladimir Putin during his invasion of Crimea. In August 2005, just seven months after his swearing-in, Obama traveled to Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine with then-Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar, touring a conventional weapons site. The two met in Kiev with President Victor Yushchenko, making the case that an existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program covering the destruction of nuclear weapons should be expanded to include artillery, small arms, anti-aircraft weapons, and conventional ammunition of all kinds. After a stopover in London, the senators returned to Washington and declared that the U.S. should devote funds to speed up the destruction of more than 400,000 small arms, 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles, and more than 15,000 tons of ammunition.
A press release from then-Senator Lugar’s office included then-Senator Obama’s puerile proclamation that eliminating Ukraine’s stocks of conventional weapons would ensure ‘the safety of the Ukrainian people and people around the world, by keeping them out of conflicts around the world.’”
That went well, no?
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY is a senior fellow at National Review Institute, an NR contributing editor, and author of BALL OF COLLUSION: THE PLOT TO RIG AN ELECTION AND DESTROY A PRESIDENCY. @andrewcmccarthy
Read more at National Review.