If America doesn’t protect Ukraine, then America will… die?
But David T. Pyne, deputy director of domestic operations for a private organization called the National and Homeland Security Electromagnetic Pulse Task Force, impressively tops them all: “The United States very likely faces the most dangerous threat to its existence in its history right now,” he said. News week last month. If the United States does not play its cards right, he added, we could see “the outbreak of a major war with Russia and China, which could cause an existential threat to the American homeland, which could end our nation and kill tens of millions.” Americans.
How is Ukraine, so is America?
Ukraine follows a long line of remote places that are considered strongholds on which global security depends. Other entries include Vietnam, Cuba, Berlin, Central America, Iraq (in 1990 and in 2002) and Cuba again. Russia and China would have been bolstered by last year’s pullout in Afghanistan. Is Ukraine another example of hawks exaggerating the threat posed by a distant conflict, or could an invasion there actually lead to a chain reaction of similar interventions around the world?
Political scientists and historians sometimes speak of “waves”, where ideas or social or political phenomena cross borders. Eric Hobsbawm coined the phrase “the age of revolution” to describe the political upheavals in North America and Europe from the late 18th to mid-19th centuries, including the “revolutionary wave of 1830”. Samuel Huntington popularized the concept of democratic waves, spurts of expansion in the number of democratic states. David Rapoport has suggested that terrorism moved in similar waves, beginning with anarchists in the 1880s and leading to religious terrorism today.
But the idea that a threatening development in one country can cause parallel events in other countries has a different pedigree in Washington. Even more famously, it served as the basis for the domino theory, which held that, as Dwight Eisenhower explained in 1954 of communism in Indochina, “You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock the first one down, and what will happen at the last is the certainty that it will pass very quickly.
Eisenhower’s theory was notable for its inflexibility – note its certainty that a Communist regime rising to power in one country would precipitate identical events nearby. It was assumed that neighboring countries had no contrary traditions, interests, culture or institutions to resist communism. This assumption led the United States to spend an estimated $738 billion (in 2011 dollars) and cause the deaths of millions of Vietnamese to preserve an anti-communist regime in South Vietnam. But when North Vietnam eventually invaded the South in 1975 and the country became a Marxist state, it had far less impact than American policymakers had anticipated. More broadly, by employing the domino theory, American leaders had acted as if Southeast Asia was composed of vital dominoes during the Cold War. And yet, Vietnam is still ruled by a communist government, while the Soviet Union is long gone.