Sweeping through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania this week, Joe Biden reassured all three that the United States' commitment to Article Five of the NATO treaty remains "solemn" and "iron clad."
Article Five commits us to war if the territory of any of these tiny Baltic nations is violated by Russia.
From World War II to the end of the Cold War, all three were Soviet republics. All three were on the other side of the Yalta line agreed to by FDR, and on the other side of the NATO red line, the Elbe River in Germany.
No president would have dreamed of waging war with Russia over them. Now, under the new NATO, we must. Joe Biden was affirming war guarantees General Eisenhower would have regarded as insane.
Secretary of State John Kerry says that in the Ukraine crisis, "All options are on the table." John McCain wants to begin moving Ukraine into NATO, guaranteeing that any Russian move on the Russified east of Ukraine would mean war with the United States.
Forty members of Congress have written Kerry urging that Georgia, routed in a war it started with Russia over South Ossetia in 2008, be put on a path to membership in NATO.
Following Russia's annexation of Crimea, other voices are calling for expanding NATO to bring in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, and for moving U.S. troops and warplanes into Poland and the Baltic republics.
President Obama says, "All options are on the table" if Iran does not give us solid assurances she is not building a bomb. Members of Congress support U.S. military action against Iran, if Tehran does not surrender even the "capability" to build a bomb.
End all enrichment of uranium, or America attacks, they warn.
In the Far East we are committed to defend Japan if China seizes the Senkakus that Beijing claims as Chinese territory, a collection of rocks in the East China Sea. If Kim Jong-Un starts a war with South Korea, we are committed by treaty to fight a second Korean War.
We are committed by treaty to defend the Philippines. And if China acts on its claim to the southern islands of the South China Sea, and starts a shooting war with Manila's navy, we are likely in it.
Is this not an awful lot on Uncle Sam's plate?
Is America really prepared to fight all of these wars that we are obligated by treaty to fight?
The national recoil at attacking Syria, for crossing Obama's "red line" last summer and using poison gas, suggests that there is a vast gulf between what America is obligated by treaty to do, and what the American people are willing to do in sending their soldier sons into a new war.
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