With war underway in Eastern Europe, the United States should support its allies while keeping the country’s men and women out of the equation.
Opinion by Matthew Royer, News Editor
It is too late to prevent war from erupting between Russia and Ukraine. However, President Joe Biden needs to keep his promise and minimize American lives that would be lost if the country decides to join the war.
Vladimir Putin, Russian president, signed a decree on Monday granting independence to the eastern separatist regions of Ukraine according to Politico, confirming an invasion of the nation. With the strongman later sending troops in and launching strikes in an attempt to siege Ukraine’s major cities, including the capital of Kyiv, this action not only showed Putin’s true intentions but struck a nerve through the geopolitical landscape. European figureheads such as French President Emanuel Macron, who met with the Russian leader multiple times earlier that week, readjusted his initiatives for European peace following Putin’s imperial actions. Meanwhile, in the United States sat Biden, who brought an end to American involvement in the War of Afghanistan last year, appearing to do everything in his power to keep American troops out of the emerging conflict just north of the Balkans.
“Our forces are not and will not be engaged in a conflict with Russia in Ukraine,” said the commander-in-chief on Thursday. “Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the East.”
The United States has an opportunity to prevent Russian imperialism from reclaiming its former soviet territory without a single American troop stepping foot in Ukraine - through the use of sanctions. An example of this is Germany halting progress on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline after being pressured by NATO and the United States to do so, which will hit Russia where it hurts, its economy. According to the LA Times, the U.S. has decided not to further sanction Russia on its oil due to a worry for rising gas prices and oil scarcity in Europe; however, Biden announced economic sanctions aimed at oligarchs close to Putin on Friday.
Soldiers in the American military come from various backgrounds. Of course, many Americans choose to enlist en masse after high school, seeking either a sense of pride in defending their country or a chance at a better life. Seen even on the campus of Valley College, recruiters promote the military to students as they spread the word of free education and career that can come with their enlistment. But unfortunately, a better life is not a guarantee, as what comes with enlistment is the risk of going to war for the country.
If Americans are inserted into the conflict, part of the risk is PTSD.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, military members who fought in recent campaigns such as Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have an 11 to 20 percent chance of having PTSD-related incidents in a given year.
While there are only so many sanctions and offerings of strategic support that can be made, the youngest militarily eligible Americans today have only known a country of war. Born shortly before or after the events of 9/11, these citizens have seen their country at war for their entire lives.
Biden has the opportunity to not fall into the same trap that so many before him have stepped into. Even if hope seems lost, the United States needs to find any possible diplomatic solution and focus on working with European allies and others across the globe to secure stability between Russia and its neighbors.
Biden has to carry out every option before American lives are put in danger. Even then, if it does get to that point, American involvement could escalate the conflict into a war more akin to World War III than a military squabble in Eastern Europe.