(Lee Steinhauer, Headline USA contributor) Just when America had finally escaped the disastrous decades-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it finds itself entangled in yet another one.
This time, the quagmire is in Ukraine—which, after more than a year and a half, has no end in sight and escalates further with each passing day.
In many ways, the Biden administration is still fighting the last war, as if by showing resolve in Ukraine it will be absolved of its humiliating exit from Afghanistan—an ending reminiscent of that other infamous war in Vietnam.
Proponents will also argue that this time is different, and that Ukraine is valiantly fighting for freedom against genocidal Russia. They claim Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is basically the reincarnation of Winston Churchill, while Russia’s Vladimir Putin is Adolf Hitler—and, if not stopped, the latter will surely embark on a murderous rampage through the Baltics and Europe.
Though no matter how much some would like it to be, not everything is World War II.
Besides, if anything, the better analogy here is World War I, with Ukraine at risk of becoming a new Archduke Franz Ferdinand—the spark that ignites a global conflagration.
Indeed, the conflict, which has been enlarged well beyond all proportions and well beyond that of the two main combatants, is already spurring the creation of a new Axis—with key players being China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.
This also comes at a time when the world is increasingly divided along ideological and geopolitical fault lines, and the war is only widening the fissures.
Indeed, despite what Western propaganda would have us all believe, not everyone in the world supports Ukraine or wants it to win.
To the contrary, many are sympathetic to Russia, whom they see as being unduly punished for the crime of not submitting to the U.S.-led world order and its self-serving decrees.
American imperialism is something those—especially in the developing world and the Global South—have long chafed against, as well.
And it is a narrative that China is keen to advance, especially as Ukraine becomes a proxy war between itself and America in their intensifying battle for the mantle of global leadership.
For its part, China is capitalizing on the turmoil the conflict is causing in the developing world, where food and energy prices have skyrocketed.
Moreover, while much of Western society may view the war in Ukraine as the world’s greatest concern, for the rest this is simply not so—and not only that, but they see their own biggest problems dismissed and neglected in comparison.
Paraphrasing Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who encapsulated the sentiment: the West believes its problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not necessarily the West’s.
A great many American citizens—watching their own cities and towns crumbling and crime-ridden, and their nation’s borders daily invaded—share a similar sentiment, as do a growing number of Europeans, for that matter.
Additionally, far from ending the war, much of the world sees America and its allies as only prolonging it further, while also making the conflict ever more dangerous.
Western intervention has caused the war to become existential for nuclear armed Russia with its own homeland now directly threatened.
If anything, this has only served to harden Russia’s resolve to win—no matter the consequences.
To that end, Russia is currently mobilizing its entire society and economy for the long war ahead, and recently entered a deal with North Korea for additional weapons and ammunition to replenish its stockpiles.
At the same time, Ukraine’s long awaited, and much heralded counter offensive is stalling badly.
But given the enormous amounts of American prestige and credibility that the Biden administration has now put on the line in Ukraine, how far and how long is America willing to go to ensure a Ukrainian victory?
And at what cost?
American troops on the ground?
And while America is pulled ever deeper into the war, a far greater threat looms, as China rapidly builds up its own military power at an alarming speed and scale.
What happens if China suddenly decides to take Taiwan, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping has vowed to do, and as numerous senior U.S. military commanders have warned.
Can America possibly fight a two-front war and win against both China and Russia?
Is it prepared to do so?
Recently, Polish President Andrzej Duda compared Ukraine to a drowning man who is capable of pulling down with him anyone who tries to help.
If America is not careful, it may be dragged down to the depths by Ukraine as well—along with the rest of the world.
Lee Steinhauer is author of The Art of the New Cold War, an expert on U.S.–-China policy, and a political & government affairs consultant. His book and analysis on China have been featured in national media outlets from Fox and Fox Business, to the Daily Caller. Steinhauer lives in Central Florida with his wife, Allison, and his son, Alexander.
Editor’s Note: The above piece is an opinion piece. Although Headline USA does curate and edit such pieces for style purposes, the views expressed in it do not necessarily represent those of the publication. Headline USA did not receive nor furnish any compensation for the submission.