Recent months have begun to see a renewed vigor in the partisan split within the American political spectrum on the Ukraine war, as American isolationists have persisted in their skepticism that the US need spend its resources acting as the final support structure the global order like an atlas figure.
Forget misguided reasoning about an East-West conflict or a battle against authoritarianism, the primary reason that the foreign establishment acted as it did in arming Ukraine was that allowing one state to use force to redraw the border lines of an internationally recognized democracy (however flawed that democratic system may have been) means a fundamental revision of the post-1945 world order, and the utter discrediting of the UN-charter endowed international system. Any settlement that allowed the international recognition of land annexed by Russia would thus trigger the dismantling of the entire international system.
The actions of Russia, which in the case of a one-man totalitarian state represent the will of Putin, are an intolerable threat to the world order. His war thus, from the perspective of any supporter of the global international order and the peace it has generated, can not be allowed to end with any concessions, nor can he or a Russia under his control ever be allowed to reenter the international system. As such, the labelling the conflict a proxy war is not only acceptable, but it should be accepted by any friend of America and the world order as an instrumental tool to weaken the strength of a rival fading superpower, one under the leadership of a man wishes to dismantle the world order, with no corporeal cost borne by the US.
Further, the looming complaints that the conflict will somehow “devolve” into a stalemate, as if massive pitched battles of attrition over bombed out cities filled with civilians is somehow better than stable lines of engagement, are preposterous, as the war has already been arguably in a stalemate phase for the better part of a year.
From the American, Ukrainian, and the international communities’ perspective, the entire world is served by a humiliated superpower being exposed for the weakening and inept kleptocracy it is, depleting its manpower and materiel to the point of exhaustion, or coup, one of the which is inevitable. Whether or not Ukraine can reclaim the devastated and materially valueless Donbas in the short term is less strategically important.
Finally, treating regime change like a dirty word rather than the practical reality of a sanctions regime whose possible end is to destabilize Russia to the point of a coup d’etat, is obviously a confused reaction. As much of the Western foreign policy has admitted, even it Russia ceased its military operations and withdrew its troops to the pre-2022 borders, it is unlikely that Putin’s attempt at using force to annex territory could be forgotten. His regime, and thus his behavior, would ever be allowed to be normalized before his removal from power, a likely consequence of his loss anyways.
As it stands then, if it is in the strategic interests of the United States to deplete Putin’s Russia, and it would benefit the US if that went to the extent of either regime or state collapse, then the continuation of the war regardless of where the borderlines are would be far more advantageous than any settlement with Russia, or form of peace which leaves the Putin regime intact to act as a symbolic message that the world has now decided that sovereign borders are meaningless and can be abrogated at will by brute force at any time.
Any supporter of the US and the world order should continue to support the arming of Ukraine and the consequent weakening of revisionist Putin, if for no other reason than to challenge the notion that might makes right, and to undermine the prospect of future attempt at revising international borders through the use of force.