You have a good neighbor.  He does a lot for you.  He keeps the street clean around your house.  He mows your lawn when you are away.  He signs for your packages and brings them to you later.  Your kids go and play with his kids in the backyard.  He has an alarm on his house with a camera, which you don't, and he once ran burglars away from your house.  He's done a thing or two for you that you haven't noticed.  Like the time he stopped a crew from mistakenly taking down a tree in your front yard.  And the time he found your cat outside, on the street, and gave it to your kid.

And now your neighbor's house has caught fire.  The flames are just now visible.  There's plenty of time to react.  In fact, you happen to be standing nearby, at exactly the right place, watering your garden, with a hose in your hand.  The flames are in easy reach.  Your neighbor runs to you and asks you to just turn the water in the direction of the flame.

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You refuse.  You turn off the water and walk away.  And then you hurry down to your basement and shut off the valve, just to make sure your neighbor can't be helped.

All you had to do was flick your wrist, turn the hose in the right direction.  But you didn't.  It wouldn't have cost you anything.  A nickel on your water bill that you wouldn't notice.

And if you had helped, you'd have been a hero.  Your neighbor would remember you, as would the press, as would your kids, as would everyone.  But you chose not to help.  Your neighbor's house burns down.

Kremlin Says German Leak Shows 'Involvement' of West in Ukraine
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Kremlin Says German Leak Shows 'Involvement' of West in Ukraine

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And then yours does, too.

This is, currently, our Ukraine policy. We are choosing to let a good neighbor burn.  Ukraine does things for us that we need, and often that we neglect to do ourselves, or cannot do ourselves.  It does things for us that we do not notice.

These are not small things.  By resisting Russia, Ukraine shows the world that there are people who care about democracy enough to take risks for it.  It reduces the risk of nuclear proliferation and nuclear war by showing that nuclear blackmail does not work.  It maintains the international legal order.  It fulfills the NATO mission by absorbing and reversing a Russian attack, making war elsewhere in Europe very unlikely.  It deters China from risky action in the Pacific by showing how difficult offensive operations are.

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These are all hugely important American interests, most of which we cannot fulfill ourselves.  Ukraine can fulfill them, if we help, just a little, in ways we would not even notice.

Ukraine is on fire.  In the past few days, Russia has launched something like five hundred rockets and drones at Ukrainian civilians, including nearly a hundred drones on New Year's Eve.  Russia continues to undertake offensive operations in Ukraine.  Russian propagandists and Russian leaders continue to announce the same genocidal war aims now as at the beginning of the war: the end of the Ukrainian state and the end of the Ukrainian nation.  Ukrainian citizens under Russian occupation continue to be tortured and deported.

brass-colored faucet

Ukraine resists, very effectively, with the weapons it has. It has opened the Black Sea to trade, something that no one expected.  It is holding back the Russian advance, inflicting huge casualties.  It is shooting down missiles and drones. 

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So, we are standing here with easy access to water.  It would be so easy to help.  And yet we are turning away from our neighbor in need.  Ukraine needs our support, and some of our Congressional representatives are blocking it.

The amount in question is not meaningful, given what we spend on national security.  It is about a nickel on the defense budget dollar.

And that nickel is extremely well spent!  The defense department budget, after all, is meant to keep us safe.  That nickel on the dollar brings us security in the Atlantic and the Pacific, it brings us a reduced risk of nuclear war and a greatest international respect for law, it brings us the sense that we have friends who take risks for good things.  There is no other nickel on the defense department dollar that is nearly so important as this one.

And, in fact, we don't even really spend that nickel on Ukraine.  Most of the defense money we nominally spend on Ukraine actually stays in the United States.  The arms Ukraine needs are in large measure weapons that your tax dollars would otherwise be spent to decommission -- to destroy and throw away. 

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For example, we have about a thousand long-range missiles that we will soon pay tax money to take apart and drop in landfills.  Those missiles, given instead to Ukraine, would seriously hinder Russian attacks, and put Ukraine in a position to win the war.

We are turning off the water.  Running down to the basement, caught in some strange self-destructive fit of self-absorption, we are putting our own house at risk.  Ignoring our neighbor is the worst thing we can do, even if all we care about is ourselves.

Everything that the Ukrainians are doing for us can be undone this year.  Russia can win, and be encouraged to start other wars, where our participation is likely to be much more direct.  China can be encouraged, and we can find ourselves in a cataclysm over Taiwan.  International order can break down, and we can confront confusing, difficult, and painful conflicts all over the world.  Russia can halt food deliveries to Asia and Africa, leading to starvation and further war.

Everyone can be demoralized by the realization that those who risked their lives for democracy were sold out, just because Americans lacked the wherewithal to what is obviously the right thing.

It doesn't have to be that way.  It's easy to help a good neighbor. This is a conflagration that we can stop with a flick of the wrist.  A bit of legislation to support Ukraine, and we all have a safer year, and safer lives.

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Reprinted from the author’s blog: Thinking About. See the original here.

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Comments (7)

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john
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@roshan, .... another putin troll loses his dignity stumping for a despot leader ...have you heard the globally known facts yet?

That russia invaded Ukraine under numerous proven false pretexts. That putin is now an internationally indicted war criminal for stealing thousands of ukrainian children for nefarious purposes. That he defies all Geneva convention rules on wartime taboos like intentionally targeting and murdering thousands of civilians and the core infrastructure survivors need for basic survival. That he has maliciously targeted Ukraine's their industry and commerce logistics, that he approved the deployment of a centuries threat worth of explosive mines in civilian accessible land, that he ordered the destruction of one of Europe' largest dams causing irreparable environmental damage (and again needless loss of civilian life)...that he risks doing the same with Europe's largest nuclear plant. That his blockade of shipping Ukraine's food crops put millions of international citizens at hunger risk. That he leveled numerous Ukrainian villages and cities to uninhabitable rubble, they he tried to freeze both Ukrainians and supporting Europeans to death. That via members of his regime he's threatened the world with nuclear war perhaps a100 times since invading Ukraine.

Now given these facts I'm sure you will agree the people that you meant to say are truly VILE is putin and his warmongering kleptocratic regime.

roshan
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@john, The Kremlin regime is the most vile and criminal organization on earth, a close second is the collective west lead by senile coward Biden. Here are some facts for you:

The collective west abandoned Ukraine and its 40 million people to death and subjugation in Feb 2022, the west lied to Ukraine constantly since 2008 about NATO and EU expansion. The west gives just enough for Ukraine to survive but not enough for victory that is called a close and agnozing death by a thousand cuts. The west quickly got Finland into NATO but lets Ukrainian children get killed by bombs and missiles. So now that you understand the facts perhaps you can explain these facts to the retards who raised you as a special needs child.

John
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@roshan, Oh wise troll commentator Roshan. Your logic is unreproachable. Thank you for explaining the huge favour the putin regime has done for Ukraine in exposing the "collective wests" vile ways. Where would Ukraine be without supportive friends like russia.....oh yeah.... alive and prospering.

In all seriousness though, we can agreed that Ukraine should receive more of everything it needs to finish the job. While aid was almost immediate (contrary to what you say), and has been substantial to date (contrary to what you say), and they have used it to great effect, It did seem to trickle in slower than most Ukraine supporters would have liked. Also more is definitely is better when it comes to providing them with tools to defeat putin. I also do not understand the workings / rational of NATO in delaying Ukraine's membership. Then again I don't have clearance to know this.

By the way calling out the current president, who has absolutely tapped out his maximum personal authority to support Ukraine over the past two years, and then not mentioning the GOP MAGA cult followers who are currently hamstringing him from providing more Ukraine support.....well it just sounds disingenuous....in fact its sounds like something a MRGA / MAGA troll would say. And so the circle now complete.

..and roshan.. this is the year 2024 and civilized folk haven't called people derogatory names like you use for a few decades. It just makes you look uncouth.

roshan
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@John, I get it , it is hard to understand the treachery and wickedness of the senile west cause it is covert and implicit rather than the brutish gangsterism of the kremlin. Look if NATO can admit FINLAND in a matter of months, then why did they not admit Ukraine long ago infact in 2021 the US signed a strategic defense pact with Ukraine which it quickly dishonored the same way it dishonored its agreements in Afghanistan. Why do u think that is?? because Ukraine is a third class country just like Afghanistan in the minds of the western elites. why did Boris the ugly fart come to Kyiv and lie about full support and backing ?? again because the Ukrainians are cannon fodder to these people, they know Ukrainians look up to them and so they cynically use them like a dirty rug that can then be thrown into the garbage once it serves the purpose. So Ukraine has no freinds: its stuck between a phycho murderer and a backstabber who uses Ukraine as a shield. About MAGA : u should know I am not american and also that I reside in Ukraine. I don;t give a damn about fat ugly american politics. Now please stop being a fool and use your brain for once.

John
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@roshan, There are a number of reasons Ukraine was not yet allowed into NATO, the principle one being that it was still cleaning house of the DNA remnants of former russian control. The 2024 corruption perceptions index list NATO's least corruption member as Denmark with a score of 90/100. It list NATO's 2 lowest members as Turkey (36/100) and Hungary (42/100). NATO is essentially being undermined by these putin favouring leaders

Even after all the excellent russian house cleaning the Zelensky administration is doing Ukraine still only ranks at 33/100...a huge improvement from Ukraine's russian outpost days (28/100). Zelensky knows this and he has openly stated he knows there is more work to do.

Russia has been stuck at score 28/100.

Regardless fellow democracies should fully support it on its sovereign path to improvement It is unfortunate putin has undermined US and EU aid with Orban and MAGA cult. Also unfortunate India continues to economically support russia.

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pootie is a looser
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come on world its time to pull your fingers out of your buttholes and help Ukraine,how many more Ukraine folk can you watch die,no more hanky panky lets get this job done,its time to do the dishes,huston we have a problem,com check

pootie is a wanker
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@pootie is a looser, pootie boy should have stuck to stealing diamonds in africa

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roshan
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Yes it is truth you in the EU and NATO are a vile and wicked people. You cynically used Ukraine in the worst possible ways, you lied to them about EU and NATO membership and then you abandoned them at the worst possible time feb 2022.

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David Doran
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Important article. However, the line under the headline should read ‘before the conflagration engulfs us, too’
Sounds like this line was written by a Ukrainian, not Snyder . Just trying to help, not wanting to be critical, I only speak English

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John
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Firstly a big thank you from neighbouring Canada for the critical support this American EU history professor (Yale) is providing Ukraine. His vast historical knowledge of Ukraine and Russia's ongoing persecution makes supporting Ukraine an easy moral choice. Beyond his rigorous career, did you know that he was also one of the first revered foreign 'honorary ambassadors" for United24 (official Ukrainian government defence fundraising platform). Most recently he has spearheaded the raising of almost $1.3 million USD towards building Ukraine's own home grown Shahed drone defence system. This is the second of his campaigns I have supported as I believe they are well targeted towards what is of greatest importance currently....Ukraine's existential defence. One person can make such a big difference in supporting a just cause.

As other commentators below note, the burning house analogy and information provided in this article are "spot on". Besides following the news, I want to especially thank all readers who armed with the facts, apply extra pressure to global media and leadership to promote their continued support for Ukraine.

I have no ties to Ukraine, other then feeling strongly compelled to do as much as possible to help them defend their democracy. If we recognize that democracy remains the fairest governing model for 'We the people..", then at this pivotal moment in history we must protect it and stand against russia's oppressive regime. It benefits us all.

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pootie boy the bunker bandit
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the world has helped Ukraine but much more needs to be done,its time to take the gloves of and send a strong message to pootie boy,Ukraine is aslo protecting the rest of Europe here so its in everyones interest to protect Ukraine,no more political games needed,no more trickle feeding Ukraine weapons,its time to end this war on Ukraines terms.

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David
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Spot on!

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