Ukraine, Lincoln, and Biden

Reading And There Was Light, Jon Meacham’s wonderful new biography of Lincoln, I’ve been struck by the similarity of the pressures on Lincoln and the dilemmas he faced in formulating and pursuing a just and realistic strategy during the Civll War and those on Biden in leading the West’s assistance to Ukraine in repelling Russia’s invasion of that country. Lincoln wanted to eliminate slavery, but slavery could not be eliminated unless the Union was preserved intact, and the Union could not be preserved intact if Lincoln didn’t act pragmatically to retain the allegiance of border states and conciliatory constituencies in the North. Similarly, Biden wants to help Ukraine repel Russian invaders, but no less fervently wants to avoid any escalation of the war that poses a serious risk of a direct confrontation between Russian and NATO forces. It’s fascinating to trace the evolution of Lincoln’s strategy as the Civil War unfolded. Biden seems to be guided by the same philosophy.