Foreign Policy

Foreign Aid Doesn’t Need Oversight, It Needs Abolished

In an interview with ABC News last month, after it was noted that U.S. aid to Ukraine now totals at least $113 billion, President Joe Biden was told that “many” Americans were asking, “How long can we spend like this?” His response was to first question the number of Americans who were really asking such a question, and then to limit the questioners to “the MAGA crowd” and “right-wing Republicans.”

President Biden maintained that the United States is “in a situation where the cost of doing—of walking away could be considerably higher than the cost of helping Ukraine maintain its independence.”

Although President Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested F-16 fighter jets, President Biden said that “for now,” the United States won’t be sending any. However, “We’re sending him what our seasoned military thinks he needs now. He needs tanks. He needs artillery. He needs air defense, including another HIMARS. There are things he needs now that we’re sending him to put him in a position to be able to make gains this spring and this summer going into the fall.”

On the same day as the president’s interview—which just so happened to be the one-year anniversary of the beginning of Russia’s military action against Ukraine—the Department of Defense (DOD) announced $2 billion of “additional security assistance” for Ukraine through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). The USAI enables the United States to purchase weapons for Ukraine directly from U.S. defense contractors instead of sending over its own DOD stocks to Ukraine via presidential drawdowns. “The United States will continue to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its immediate battlefield needs and longer-term security assistance requirements for as long as it takes,” said the DOD press release.

“As long as it takes?” Defense contractors—who used to be referred to as merchants of death—must be salivating like a rabid dog.

John Barsa, who was acting administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) during the Trump administration, believes that “supporting Ukraine is important to the U.S. national interest and is also a noble cause.” However, there must be “congressional oversight” of the support. “Lots of money being spent means lots of opportunities to fund ineffective programs, or worse, social justice and other programs not ‘on-mission.’ The rule of thumb is, or should be, ‘the more that is spent, the more that oversight is needed,’” said Barsa.

John Sopko, the former Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has also warned about the need for more oversight in Ukraine, because “in Afghanistan, a massive amount of taxpayer dollars to the U.S.-allied government in Kabul was found to have been diverted to corrupt causes.”

But is congressional oversight really what American taxpayers need? Is more oversight really what American taxpayers want?

Oversight of billions for Ukraine is not what is needed, for two reasons: foreign aid and foreign policy.

It doesn’t matter what form the foreign aid for Ukraine takes—security assistance, financial support, refuge resettlement, or humanitarian aid—it is still money taken from U.S. taxpayers without their consent and given to a foreign government. How much money would be collected for Ukraine if the U.S. government went door to door and asked Americans to donate? Certainly not enough to buy Ukraine one tank or airplane, and probably not enough to buy one missile. How many Americans could even locate Ukraine on a map unless it was labeled with big, black letters? How many Americans know even the most basic history of Ukraine and Russia? How many Americans (unless they are from Russia or Ukraine) have lost a minute of sleep over the war in Ukraine? How many Americans actually care a whit about what happens in Ukraine? Foreign-aid spending is not authorized by the Constitution, is not a legitimate purpose of the federal government, and is not supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans if the money has to come out of their pockets.

For a great many years now, U.S. foreign policy has been reckless and meddling. The United States cannot and should not right every wrong or correct every injustice in the world. America “goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy,” said secretary of state (and later president) John Quincy Adams. It is not the job of the United States to police the world, put out fires around the world, intervene in other countries, or take sides in disputes between countries. The U.S. government is obligated to defend the United States and none else. America should follow a foreign policy of strict neutrality. That policy alone respects the sovereignty of other nations, guarantees a noninterventionist foreign policy, ensures that the U.S. military is not misused, keeps U.S. soldiers from fighting in senseless foreign wars, and allows American taxpayers to keep their hard-earned money.

Even if the simplistic “Russia bad, Ukraine good” narrative that is peddled by the U.S. government and its allies in the media is 100 percent true (which it certainly isn’t), it still doesn’t change anything. The U.S. government should never give assistance of any kind to any foreign government. All foreign aid should be private and voluntary. The U.S. government should never intervene in the affairs of another country or countries. Americans who want something to happen or not happen in another country should put their money where their mouths are.

In 2014, after Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and Russia annexed the region, former Republican member of Congress and presidential candidate Ron Paul observed: “Why does the U.S. care which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away?” This is one of the most profound statements about U.S. foreign policy that has ever been uttered.

This article was originally featured at the Future of Freedom Foundation and is republished with permission.

Was the Iraq War the Biggest Con of the 21st Century?

The Iraq War was spawned by a deadly combination of political depravity and media complicity. Unfortunately, on the twentieth anniversary of the war, both elements of that conspiracy are being whitewashed.  Instead, politicians and their pundit accomplices are prattling as if the Iraq war was a well-intentioned mistake, not a crime against humanity.

In the days after 9/11, when pollsters asked Americans who they thought had carried out the 9/11 attacks, only 3 percent of respondents suggested Iraq or Saddam Hussein as culprits. But President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney worked ceaselessly to convince Americans that Saddam was the 9/11 culprit. Official propaganda trumpeting the Saddam/al-Qaeda link was the linchpin for exploiting 9/11 to justify war. A February 2003 poll found that 72 percent of Americans believed that Saddam was “personally involved in the September 11 attacks.” Shortly before the March 2003 invasion, almost half of all Americans believed that “most” or “some” of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens. Only 17 percent of respondents knew that none of the hijackers was Iraqi.

In his official notification of invasion sent to Congress (in lieu of a declaration of war) on March 18, 2003, Bush declared that he was attacking Iraq “to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” Bush tied Saddam to 9/11 even though confidential briefings he received informed him that no evidence of any link had been found. Three years after the war started, Bush publicly admitted that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11.

On March 17, 2003, Bush also justified invading Iraq by invoking UN resolutions purportedly authorizing the U.S. “to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.” In a speech giving Saddam 48 hours to abdicate power, Bush declared, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” In the weeks and months after the fall of Baghdad, Bush repeatedly asserted that U.S. forces had discovered WMDs or that Saddam had weapons programs. “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories,” Bush declared to journalists on May 29, 2003. Five weeks later, he again claimed vindication because “we found a biological lab” in a truck trailer. However, CIA investigators concluded that the trailer had nothing to do with an Iraqi WMD program. False claims by the Bush administration on Saddam seeking uranium in Niger sparked an uproar and leaks seeking to destroy the former ambassador who exposed the sham.

In June 2003, Bush repeatedly denounced “revisionist historians” who kept asking about the missing WMDs. In a November 12, 2003 interview with the BBC’s David Frost, Bush declared that he had sent a team to Iraq “to find the weapons or the intent of weapons.” Bush did not reveal how he defined “the intent of weapons.” The following month, Bush told ABC News that the war was justified because there was “the possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons.” In January 2004, David Kay—the man Bush chose to head the search for WMDs in Iraq—testified to Congress that “we were almost all wrong,” as far as Iraq possessing WMDs. Kay’s testimony demolished one of the prime pretexts for the war.

Bush responded by portraying the lack of evidence as proof of his courage. On February 8, 2004, Bush justified invading Iraq because Saddam “had the ability to make weapons at the very minimum.” This is like justifying a violent no-knock raid on someone’s house because they could have purchased gunpowder and tin cans.

In a March 2, 2004 speech to Homeland Security Department employees, Bush offered a new justification for invading Iraq: “America will not allow terrorists and outlaw regimes to threaten our Nation and the world with the world’s most dangerous technologies.” The mere suspicion that a nation might have “dangerous technologies” justified devastating their land.

But what did George W. Bush really think? That mystery was solved a few weeks later at the annual Washington dinner for the Radio and Television Correspondents Association. Bush performed a skit featuring slides showing him crawling around the Oval Office peeking behind curtains. Bush quipped to the poohbah attendees: “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere…Nope, no weapons over there…Maybe under here?” The crowd loved it and The Washington Post headlined its report on the evening: “George Bush, Entertainer in Chief.” Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor & Publisher, labeled the performance and the press’s reaction that night as “one of the most shameful episodes in the recent history of the American media and presidency.” By the time of Bush’s performance, hundreds of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians had already been killed.

Most of the media had embedded themselves for the Iraq war long before that dinner. The Washington Post buried pre-war articles questioning the Bush team’s shams on Iraq; their award-winning Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks complained, “There was an attitude among editors: ‘Look, we’re going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?’” Instead, before the war started, the Post ran 27 editorials in favor of invasion and 140 front-page articles supporting the Bush administration’s case for attacking Saddam. PBS’s Bill Moyers noted that “of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC and CBS nightly news, from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.” Jim Lehrer, the host of government-subsidized PBS Newshour, explained his timidity in 2004: “It would have been difficult to have had debates [about invading Iraq]…you’d have had to have gone against the grain.” Lehrer’s admission did not disgrace him since groveling to officialdom is the job description for Washington journalists.

In his 1971 opinion on the Pentagon Papers case, Justice Hugo Black declared that a free press has “the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.” But during the Iraq War, most of the media preferred to trumpet official lies instead of exposing them.

A 2005 American University survey of hundreds of journalists who covered Iraq concluded: “Many media outlets have self-censored their reporting on the conflict in Iraq because of concern about public reaction to graphic images and details about the war.” Individual journalists commented:

“In general, coverage downplayed civilian casualties and promoted a pro-U.S. viewpoint. No U.S. media show abuses by U.S. military carried out on regular basis.”

“Friendly fire incidents were to show only injured Americans, and no reference made to possible mistakes involving civilians.”

“The real damage of the war on the civilian population was uniformly omitted.”

The media sugarcoated the war and almost always refused to publish photos incriminating the U.S. military. The Washington Post received a leak of thousands of pages of confidential records on the 2005 massacre at Haditha, including stunning photos taken immediately after Marines killed 24 civilians (mostly women and children). Though the Post headlined its exclusive story, “Marines’ Photos Provide Graphic Evidence in Haditha Probe,” the article noted that “Post editors decided that most of the images are too graphic to publish.” The Post suppressed the evidence at the same time it continued deferentially reporting official denials that U.S. troops committed atrocities.

In 2007, two Apache helicopters targeted a group of men in Baghdad with 30 mm. cannons and killed kill up to 18 people. Video from the helicopter revealed one helicopter crew “laughing at some of the casualties, all of whom were civilians, including two Reuters journalists.” “Light ’em all up. Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards,” one guy on the recording declared. Army Corporal Chelsea Manning leaked the video to Wikileaks, which disclosed it in 2010. Wikileaks declared on Twitter: “Washington Post had Collateral Murder video for over a year but DID NOT RELEASE IT to the public.” Wikileaks also disclosed thousands of official documents exposing U.S. war crimes and abuses, tacitly damning American media outlets that chose to ignore or shroud atrocities.

In 2007, Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly declared that at the beginning of the war in Iraq, “everybody in the country [was] behind it, except the kooks.” The “kooks” included UN weapons inspectors, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and many foreign governments. The “kook” label was also attached to, The American Conservative, Counterpunch, the Future of Freedom Foundation, and an array of individual journalists who often found closed doors to their submissions. Likewise, the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of protestors who took to the streets of American cities to oppose the war were redefined into a laughingstock.

In his rush to war, President Bush showed boundless bad faith—followed by boundless righteousness after his lies were exposed. By the summer of 2008, only 22 percent of Americans approved of Bush and 41 percent said he was the “worst president ever.” But the same media outlets that championed the Iraq War helped resurrect Bush’s public image a decade later. Bush was exalted like the second coming of George Washington for his slams against the Trump administration. By early 2018,  a poll showed that 61 percent of Americans approved of Bush, and his support among Democrats quintupled, from 11 percent in early 2009 to 54 percent now. The key to Bush’s rehabilitation was burying his Iraq War record in the Memory Hole.

The media played the same trick to expunge its own tawdry Iraq record. Four years ago, The Washington Post spent a king’s ransom to produce and run a Super Bowl ad on its “Democracy Dies in the Darkness” motto. At that time, the Post was whipping up RussiaGate hysteria and reaping torrents of new subscribers. The Super Bowl ad, a paean to reporters, declared, “When we go off to war…knowing keeps us free.”

But kowtowing leaves people dead. Twenty years after the start of the Iraq War, President Biden is dragging America deeper into a foreign conflict that could spiral into World War III. Most of the mainstream media is again parroting whatever the U.S. government or its foreign lackeys say about the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Lies are political weapons of mass destruction, obliterating all limits on government power. The Iraq War should have taught Americans not to trust presidents or pundits who seek to unleash mass carnage. But don’t trust the Washington elite to ever learn or admit that lesson.

Taiwan is Part of China Ep. 249

Patrick discusses the US policy toward Taiwan in relation to China.

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Arizona State Senate Passes ‘Defend the Guard Act’

[Yesterday], the Arizona Senate narrowly passed the Defend the Guard Act, a bill to require the governor to stop unconstitutional foreign combat deployments of the state’s National Guard troops. Passage into law would take a big step toward restoring the founders’ framework for a state-federal balance under the Constitution.

Sen. Wendy Rogers (R) and three fellow Republicans introduced Senate Bill 1367 (SB1367) on January 31. Titled the Defend the Guard Act, the legislation would prohibit the governor from releasing any unit or member of the Arizona National Guard into “active duty combat” unless specific constitutional requirements are met:

The United States Congress passes an official declaration of war or takes an official action pursuant to article I, section 8, clause 15, United States Constitution, that calls on the National Guard to expressly execute the laws of the union, repel an invasion or suppress an insurrection.

“Active duty combat” is defined as performing the following services in the active federal military service of the United States:

  • Participation in an armed conflict;
  • Performance of a hazardous service in a foreign state; or
  • Performance of a duty through an instrumentality of war.

“Official declaration of war” is defined as “an official declaration of war made by the United States Congress pursuant to Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution.”

Last month, the Senate Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee approved the Arizona Defend the Guard Act by a vote of 4-3. On March 6, the Senate Rules committee also passed SB1367 by a 4-3 vote. Today, the full Senate approved SB1367 by a vote of 16-13-1.

In Practice

National Guard troops have played significant roles in all modern overseas conflicts, with over 650,000 deployed since 2001. reports that “Guard and Reserve units made up about 45 percent of the total force sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, and received about 18.4 percent of the casualties.” More specifically, Arizona National Guard troops have participated in missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.

Since none of these missions have been accompanied by a Constitutional declaration of war, nor were they in pursuance of any of the three conditions set forth in Article 1 Sec. 8, the Defend the Guard Act would have prohibited those deployments.


Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 and 16 make up the “militia clauses” of the Constitution. Clause 16 authorizes Congress to “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia.” Through the Dick Act of 1903, Congress organized the militia into today’s National Guard, limiting the part of the militia that could be called into federal service rather than the “entire body of people,” which makes up the totality of the “militia.” Thus, today’s National Guard is governed by the “militia clauses” of the Constitution, and this view is confirmed by the National Guard itself.

Clause 15 delegates to Congress the power to provide for “calling forth the militia” in three situations only: 1) to execute the laws of the union, 2) to suppress insurrections, and 3) to repel invasions.

During state ratifying conventions, proponents of the Constitution, including James Madison and Edmund Randolph, repeatedly assured the people that this power to call forth the militia into federal service would be limited to those very specific situations, and not for general purposes, like helping victims of a disease outbreak or engaging in “kinetic military actions.”

Returning to the Constitution

The founding generation was careful to ensure the president wouldn’t have the power to drag the United States into endless wars. James Madison made this clear in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, & most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature.

Congress has abrogated its responsibility and allowed the president to exercise almost complete discretion when it comes to war. The passage of Defend the Guard legislation would pressure Congress to do its constitutional duty.

West Virginia Rep. Pat McGeehan served as an Air Force intelligence officer in Afghanistan and has sponsored similar legislation in his state.

“For decades, the power of war has long been abused by this supreme executive, and unfortunately our men and women in uniform have been sent off into harm’s way over and over,” he said. “If the U.S. Congress is unwilling to reclaim its constitutional obligation, then the states themselves must act to correct the erosion of constitutional law.”

Passage of Defend the Guard would also force the federal government to only use the Guard for the three expressly-delegated purposes in the Constitution, and at other times to remain where the Guard belongs, at home, supporting and protecting their home state.

While getting this bill passed won’t be easy and will face fierce opposition from the establishment, it certainly is, as Daniel Webster once noted, “one of the reasons state governments even exist.”

Webster made this observation in an 1814 speech on the floor of Congress where he urged actions similar to the Oklahoma Defend the Guard Act. He said, “The operation of measures thus unconstitutional and illegal ought to be prevented by a resort to other measures which are both constitutional and legal. It will be the solemn duty of the State governments to protect their own authority over their own militia, and to interpose between their citizens and arbitrary power. These are among the objects for which the State governments exist.”

What’s Next

SB1367 will now move to the House for further consideration. It will first need to pass through the committee process before the full Chamber can concur. Residents of Arizona are strongly urged to contact their state representative to firmly request that they support the bill (locate contact info here).

This article was originally featured at the Tenth Amendment Center and is republished with permission.

Reapers and Red Lines: The Downing of an American Drone

On March 14, A Russian jet collided with an American drone, leading to the downing of the drone in the Black Sea.

The United States says that the drone was flying in international airspace when two Russian Su-27 fighter jets made nineteen high-speed passes near the drone before dumping jet fuel on it in an attempt to disrupt it. Though it cannot be seen in the edited video released by the Pentagon, the U.S. says that on a final pass, one of the Russian jets approached the drone from behind at high speed and struck the rear propellor. The video picks up after the collision and shows the damaged propellor. The crippled drone was then brought down into the sea by its controllers.

The incident is “the first known physical contact between the Russian and American militaries since the war in Ukraine started last year,” according to The New York Times and the “first time a Russian aircraft has brought down a U.S. aircraft since the Cold War.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called Russia’s actions “dangerous and reckless and unprofessional behavior.” Russia has blamed the crash on a “sharp manoeuvre” made by the drone.

While the media has focussed on whether the Russian takedown of the drone was deliberate, that is not the only crucial question.

Another crucial question is, what was a $32 million MQ-9 Reaper drone doing 37 miles from the Crimean port of Sevastopol, home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet? What is the significance of Russia being willing to physically interact with the U.S. for the first time in the war and intercept the drone?

The United States says the Reaper drone was “conducting routine operations in international airspace.” The New York Times calls it “a routine surveillance and reconnaissance mission.” Where it was flying and what it was doing are the two key points.

According to Russia, the drone was 37 miles from Crimea, in airspace that it had told everyone months ago, including the U.S., was restricted airspace established for the war that was off limits. It was moving provocatively and stealthily toward Crimea with its transponders off so it couldn’t be tracked. “We are concerned,” Anatoly Antonov, the Russian Ambassador to the United States said, “about the unacceptable activity of the U.S. military in the immediate vicinity of our borders.”

Washington has provided Ukraine with “stepped up feeds of intelligence about the position of Russian forces, highlighting weaknesses in the Russian lines.” The MQ-9 Reaper drone is a large unmanned aerial vehicle that is 11 meters long and has a wingspan of more than 22 meters. The U.S. Air Force says its main use is as “an intelligence-collection asset.”

If the highly advanced drone was collecting imagery and intelligence to help Ukraine plan a counteroffensive against Crimea, then the significance of the incident is Russia’s highlighting of their red line. If Ukraine is “the brightest of all redlines” for Russia, in the words of William Burns, then Crimea is the boldest of those bright red lines. Russia may have been highlighting that bold red line.

Russia has emphatically warned that Crimea is Russia and that attacking Crimea is a red line. Russia’s Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the field of nuclear deterrence, says that Russia “hypothetically” could allow the use of nuclear weapons only if there is “aggression using conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is threatened.” Putin has warned that, “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us.”

The intercept of the U.S. Reaper drone, whether meant to down it or not, could be a highlighting of that red line, since the drone, with its advanced surveillance platform, was quite possibly gathering imagery and intelligence for a Ukrainian attack on Crimea.

Not only Putin and the Kremlin, but most Russians, view Crimea as part of Russia. But it is not only Russians who hold that belief. Though Crimeans are most likely to identify themselves first as Crimeans, they are also the only region of Ukraine to identify itself as primarily ethnic Russian.

Crimea was part of Russia from 1783 until 1954 when Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine—which was still part of the USSR—as a gift to commemorate the three hundredth anniversary of Ukraine’s voluntary decision to join Russia.

There is a history in Crimea, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, of voting for autonomy. In 1994, Crimea even elected a President, Yuri Meshkov, and his “Russia Bloc” party on a platform of reuniting with Russia.

Of thirty polls and referendums taken in Crimea between 1994 and 2016, twenty-five show pro-Russian results of 72.9% or higher. The remaining five were between 25.6% and 55%. United Nations polling between 2009 and 2011 reveal that the majority of Crimeans were in favour of reunification with Russia. Nicolai Petro reports that leading Crimean sociologist Natalia Kiselyova says that, from 1991-2014, the percentage of Crimeans who “yearned for Russia” was always greater than 50%.

On March 16, 2014, with a voter turnout of 83%, 97% of Crimeans voted to join Russia. Though the referendum did not meet Western standards, “It is clear,” according to Richard Sakwa, author of Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands, “that the majority of the Crimean population favoured unification with Russia.”

Despite the bold redline, there have been signals from Kiev and Washington that the United States could back a Ukrainian offensive against Crimea in the spring. Tamila Tasheva, the Ukrainian government official in charge of Crimea, says that warnings from Western leaders that an attack on Crimea could trigger “an unavoidable escalation, that might even provoke a nuclear conflict” have “been changing since we explain more and more what Crimea is, what it means for Russia, and how things are connected around Crimea.” On February 17, U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland publicly said that Crimea should be demilitarized and that Washington supports Ukrainian attacks on military targets in Crimea.

Privately, though, American officials do not really believe that Ukraine can recapture Crimea. On January 21, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said that “for this year, it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from all—every inch—of…Russian occupied Ukraine.” The New York Times reports that “the Biden administration does not think that Ukraine can take Crimea militarily.” Privately U.S. intelligence’s “sobering assessment” that retaking Crimea “is beyond the capability of Ukraine’s army” has been “reiterated to multiple committees on Capitol Hill over the last several weeks.” And Secretary of State Antony Blinken still says that “A Ukrainian attempt to retake Crimea would be a red line for Vladimir Putin that could lead to a wider Russian response.” He added that the United States “isn’t actively encouraging Ukraine to retake Crimea” and that such an attempt would not be “a wise move.”

The goal of a U.S. supported offensive against Crimea in the spring, then, would not be to win. The aim would not be a dangerous attempt to recapture Crimea that could set off an unavoidable escalation. The goal would be to panic Russia that Crimea is vulnerable in order to win Ukraine a stronger position at the inevitable negotiating table.

It may have been precisely to defend against preparations for that attack that Russia drew the line and intercepted the U.S. drone. The sophisticated surveillance drone was in restricted airspace, heading toward Crimea with its transponders off. Russia highlighted the boldest of its red lines and intercepted the craft. The event is a warning and a reminder of Russia’s red line and how dangerous it could be to cross it.


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