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

September 16, 2022 | Wayne Hsieh
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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.

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