I began reading George Will's columns back in the 1960s when I was in junior high school. My parents subscribed to Newsweek magazine, and every week, I would turn to the issue's last page to read George Will's commentary. His well-reasoned defense of conservative principles and use of historical references to buttress his arguments impressed me.
That was 50 years ago, but Mr. Will is still a powerful and persuasive political commentator. I was disheartened, however, by Will's recent column in support of American involvement in the Ukraine war.
Mr. Will’s arguments were based on two false premises. First, he said that Russia's war is an attempt to annihilate Ukraine. I don't think that's accurate. Russia's initial assault was a drive toward Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Putin may have thought his invasion would topple the Ukrainian government and bring Ukraine back into the orbit of Russian power.
However, it's evident that Russia is fighting a defensive war in Ukraine, and its territorial goals are modest. First, Russia is holding on to the Donbas, where Russian separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army for seven years.
In addition, Russia is firmly entrenched in Crimea, where it has long maintained a substantial naval base. Surely everyone realizes that Russia has a legitimate strategic interest in the Black Sea and that its ability to protect it would be severely crippled if Russia lost Crimea.
Will's main argument for supporting the Ukraine war is the claim that the U.S. promotes Ukrainian nationalism and the concept of nationalism as a vibrant political idea. Will writes:
Cosmopolitanism has its virtues. But so does nationalism Because the nation-state is essential for protecting self-government, and pride in one’s cultural inheritance impedes the blandness of cultural homogenization.
Mr. Will is wrong to say that American involvement in the Ukraine war is motivated by a desire to promote nationalism. On the contrary, President Biden's administration is pursuing a globalist agenda that seems intent on weakening the United States on the world stage and dismantling America's traditional national values, such as patriotism, the nuclear family, and self-reliance.
Moreover, Will's journalistic home, the Washington Post, and all the legacy media are globalists–not nationalists. Like the Biden administration, the mainstream media seems intent on stamping out America's national and cultural identity. Indeed, patriotism is seldom mentioned by the progressive elites, and the patriotic impulse has been redefined as "Christian nationalism" or "white nationalism"–code words for fascism.
As I read George Will’s defense of America's Ukraine policy, I sensed his heart wasn't in it. Unlike most of his prose, this particular essay is incoherent and unpersuasive. Perhaps on an unconscious level, Will knows that the Ukraine adventure weakens the United States as a world power and that the prime beneficiary of this disaster is the defense industry.
America's Ukraine project is going to blow up in our faces. And when the autopsy is complete on the disaster that befell Ukraine, the fingerprints of the nation’s political and intellectual elites will be all over the body.
Mr. Will has a fine mind and a keen sense of decency. He should think of his reputation before allowing himself to be branded as an apologist for the Ukraine disaster.