The War in Ukraine Demonstrates the Necessity of American Power Rather Than the Potential for European Unity

During the past year, Jürgen Habermas—sometimes considered Germany’s leading political philosopher, and the only surviving member of the influential “Frankfurt school” of leftist thinkers—has come out as a vocal supporter of the Ukrainian cause. To Habermas, the war symbolizes a great moment for the European Union’s project. Nevertheless, writes Wayne Hsieh, the philosopher

defended German caution and suspicion of military power. In Habermas’s view, the crisis in Ukraine simply reinforced his belief that the EU needed its own independent militarily capabilities, separate and apart from the unreliable Americans. In a significant sign of Franco-German comity, the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy had also rhapsodically declared Volodymyr Zelensky “a new, young, and magnificent founding father” of a “Europe of principles” and that the “free world” itself was at stake in Ukraine.

In Hsieh’s view, the realities of the conflict don’t so much point toward an imagined European-led a future, but to the continuation of the American-led past:

Much to the chagrin of a figure like Habermas, if there is one obvious outcome of the current war in Ukraine, it is to impress upon the world the superiority of American conventional military power. When combined with the competence and fighting spirit of Ukrainian military forces, an influx of mostly American infantry-borne anti-tank weapons, tube artillery, and rocket systems has forced the “near-peer” Russian military into a grinding stalemate.

The military side of the American effort to aid Ukraine has proved to be fearsomely effective while barely breaking a sweat, even as the sanctions regime so laboriously built by the Biden administration’s careful diplomacy may end up backfiring if it triggers an economic crisis in NATO countries (including the United States itself). Indeed, American policymakers may soon regret their unwillingness to accelerate deliveries of heavy weapons earlier this spring. . . . [A] Kyiv-controlled Ukraine as a viable state will survive with or without a formal NATO security guarantee, just as the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Korea both prospered under an American-led security umbrella.

From Israel’s perspective, this may be good news. After all, the U.S. has long been its greatest friend and protector, and the European Union a source of incessant self-righteous criticism—and of funding and succor for Israel’s enemies.

Read more at Newlines

More about: Bernard-Henri Levy, European Union, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy