When Hungarian rebels arose in 1956 to overthrow the Communist regime imposed by Joseph Stalin, President Dwight Eisenhower refused to send U.S. forces to aid the Hungarians.

Ike would not take America to war with Russia over a small country in Central Europe.

While the Hungarians were heroic and inspirational, Hungary was neither a member of NATO nor a vital U.S. interest. Moreover, it was on the Soviet side of the Yalta line dividing Europe, and agreed to by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill at Yalta in 1945.

For similar reasons today, President Joe Biden has refused to send U.S. troops, ships or planes to attack Russian forces invading Ukraine.

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From his principal avenues of attack on Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin began this war with three strategic goals.

Send an army south from Belarus to capture Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, and replace the government. Send forces into northeast Ukraine to capture its second largest city, Kharkiv, with 1.4 million people.

Third, extend the Donetsk enclave westward to establish a land bridge to Crimea and give Russia full control of the Sea of Azov and most of the Ukrainian coast along the Black Sea.

This last objective is almost achieved. Yet, as of Monday evening, five days into the war, neither Kyiv nor Kharkiv had fallen, though Russia had committed most of the troops it had assembled for the invasion.

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When Russia's Vladimir Putin demanded that the U.S. rule out Ukraine as a future member of the NATO alliance, the U.S. archly replied: NATO has an open-door policy. Any nation, including Ukraine, may apply for membership and be admitted. We're not changing that.

In the Bucharest declaration of 2008, NATO had put Ukraine and Georgia, ever farther east in the Caucasus, on a path to membership in NATO and coverage under Article 5 of the treaty, which declares that an attack on any one member is an attack on all.

Unable to get a satisfactory answer to his demand, Putin invaded and settled the issue. Neither Ukraine nor Georgia will become members of NATO. To prevent that, Russia will go to war, as Russia did last night.

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Not so long ago, Democrats seemed the party of the future.

"Inevitable!" predicted some pundits, for demography is destiny.

Moreover, in 2020, Democrats, who had won the popular vote six times in seven presidential elections, swept the popular vote again, by 6 million ballots. And they captured both houses of Congress.

The future did seem to be theirs.

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When NBC's Lester Holt asked President Joe Biden what might prompt him to send U.S. troops to rescue Americans fleeing Ukraine, Biden replied: "There's not. That's a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another."

"It's not like we're dealing with a terrorist organization. We're dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. ... Things could go crazy quickly."

Biden was saying Americans are not going to fight Russians in Ukraine, even to protect or extract imperiled U.S. troops, diplomats or citizens.

Speaking last week on the Senate floor, Sen. Ted Cruz echoed Biden: "I want to be clear and unequivocal. ... Under no circumstances should we send our sons and daughters to die to defend Ukraine from Russia."

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