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Friday, September 29, 2023

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U.S. plays Big Brother to Ukraine’s foreign policies

As tensions in Ukraine continue to rise and the threat of a full-blown Russian invasion continues, global powers are in the wings ready to jump at the slightest notion of war. Because of blatant international law violations, the U.S. is particularly interested in this conflict.

In accordance with the United Nations Charter — of which Russia is a veto member — members “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

According to The New York Times, President Barack Obama said he sees Russia’s involvement as a “breach of international law” and a “clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.”

While Obama’s statement upholds the UN Charter’s guidelines, it’s baffling that he seems to be able to decide what is right for “Ukrainian sovereignty” when he does not live there.

With Obama’s words comes the potential for U.S. entanglement. This could create the biggest political confrontation between Russia and the U.S. since the Cold War.

Tensions remained high between the U.S. and the Soviet Union after World War II, while peace existed in most parts of the world. U.S. foreign policy began to center on containing communism.

In the 1950s, the U.S. entered the Korean conflict. Korea was split between communism in the north and a republic in the south. The U.S. feared that the Soviet Union would attempt to convert every country into a communist nation, so it pushed to ensure republican ideals were spread as well. The U.S. repeated this policy again in the 1960s when Vietnam also dealt with a standoff between communism and republicanism in the north and south, respectively.

During the Vietnam War, millions of U.S. citizens protested against it. They believed the war to be invalid and thought the U.S. should have separated from the conflict in general.

The U.S. has set a historical pattern of intervening in the fate of a country’s political systems without first analyzing its own and ensuring its own prosperity.

Even so, the U.S. remains obsessed with the idea that everyone should have a republic as its government, when it is not even certain that this form of government would be socially and culturally acceptable for the people actually living there. Because of this pattern, I do not think the U.S. has the right to force an entire upheaval of a country’s political systems, particularly because it has typically been met with only greater tension and economic instability.

It does not matter what system of government another country adopts or how another country conducts its business. The U.S. needs to break this problem of systematic intervention into nations that do not reflect the same political ideologies and instead focus on domestic issues.

The conflict involving Russia appears to exist as another excuse for the U.S. to display its seemingly superior structure of government. It seems arrogant for the U.S. to try to force a certain political ideology onto a turbulent nation with its form of government when it is the same one causing poor economic conditions and great debt domestically.

With a crippled economy, domestic issues must come to the forefront and take precedence. I would not be opposed to the U.S. taking a more isolationist approach to foreign policy.

Many UH students also agree with the idea of leaning toward non-interventionist and isolationist ideas.

“It’s not the U.S.’s fault. We cannot continue to get involved in every world affair because we are expected to,” said mechanical engineering freshman Chris Pinto. “We need to fix ourselves first, especially economically and even more importantly as one political unit, before we can go about getting influencing other nations on how they should govern themselves.”

The crux of the issue is whether the U.S. should continue its cultural paradigm of intervening in the political issues of foreign nations that do not directly affect the U.S. or its citizens.

On the other hand, according to The New York Times, British Foreign Secretary William Hague opposes the non-interventionist ideology and is pushing for more countries to get involved. He also strongly advised Russia to step back.

“The world cannot just allow this to happen,” Hague said. “The world cannot say it’s OK in effect to violate the sovereignty of another nation in this way.”

Intervention by other world powers has the potential to be highly counterproductive if handled poorly. If the U.S. or any other major world power engages in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, it could possibly ignite another world war.

While other countries should be aware of “violat(ions) of sovereignty,” it is not anyone’s responsibility to stand up for a country that is capable of making its own political decisions.

Additionally, war comes at a high cost not only to citizens but to the economy, a cost that the U.S. cannot afford, especially with the national debt standing at more than $17 trillion, according to the US Debt Clock.

If the U.S. implements an isolationist foreign policy, it can avoid becoming entangled in foreign conflicts and spending excess money that it is not in the position to spend.

There is greater utility in allowing countries to decide their policies and fight their battles rather than having every decision made for them. Taking control of a situation that does not explicitly involve the U.S. will lead to greater resentment in the future should another conflict arise.

History has shown that the U.S. agenda of pushing its own form of government in foreign countries is juxtaposed with Russia’s preference for communist and authoritative regimes. I worry that the historically passive-aggressive battle of government structures could turn violent.

It is counterproductive to use force to counteract force.  In order for true sovereignty to exist within Ukraine, it is imperative that it be given the opportunity to ask for help before it is given and decide for itself the system of government it prefers.

Until the U.S. is able to effectively help other nations and fix its own problems domestically, it needs to stay out of extraneous affairs and narrow its focus to internal issues.

Opinion columnist Amber Hewitt is a print journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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