A furious debate rages in the Atlantic and Harper's over U.S. support for Ukraine's defense against the Russian invasion.
In dueling cover stories, the venerable intellectual journals in their current issues take opposing sides over the United States and its NATO allies increasing military assistance to Ukraine.
The Atlantic calls for the United States and Europe to give Ukraine the weapons it needs to win independence from Russia, making a case for "the total liberation of Ukraine."
In striking contrast, a Harper's article advocates for a treaty that would preserve Ukraine's autonomy but give Russia control of the Crimea and other Russian-speaking areas and replace NATO with an European organization independent from the United States.
The Atlantic article presents the magazine's views, while the Harper's essay expresses the beliefs of its two writers, not those of the publication.
Based on reporting from a March trip to Ukraine by author Anne Applebaum and Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic's article titled "The Choice Is Between Freedom and Fear" urges complete independence for Ukraine, including Russian withdrawal from Crimea, which it seized in 2014.
The article's title comes from an extensive interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Atlantic publisher and owner Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, also participated in the interview, in which Zelensky passionately defends Ukrainian independence.
Goldberg is a noted writer as well as the editor who has recruited an all-star lineup of writers to the magazine, funded by Jobs' wealth. The magazine recently won two Pulitzer Prizes. Applebaum, a noted expert on Eastern European issues, won the Pulitzer for her book "Gulag: A History,"
Applebaum and Goldberg give a compelling portrait of the Ukrainian army's improvised war effort, such as converting commercial drones into weapons. Photographer Paolo Pellegrin's black and white pictures show the soldiers at work.
Goldberg in his editor's note at the beginning of the magazine says "the war in Ukraine is about much more than Ukraine; it is about the very subjects that animate this magazine: democracy, freedom, justice, humanism."
Taking an opposite approach, Harper's "Why Are We in Ukraine? On the Dangers of American Hubris" gives an academic geopolitical analysis of events leading to the Ukrainian invasion.
Authors Benjamin Schwarz, former national editor of the Atlantic and executive editor of the World Policy Journal, and Texas A&M national security professor Christopher Layne fault American policy for Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
Schwarz and Layne believe that American efforts to expand NATO following the fall of the Soviet Union raised intense Russian opposition, even among pro-Western liberal leaders.
In a stunning indictment of American foreign policy, the authors cite American aggression through the years similar to Russia's in Ukraine, from the invasion of Panama to the bombing of Yugoslavia, the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The authors condemn U.S. NATO expansion, claiming it incited Putin's invasion of Georgia, the Crimea and Ukraine.
Making a rhetorical leap likely to stir controversy, Schwarz and Layne draw a parallel between the Ukrainian invasion and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. They cast blame on John F. Kennedy's administration for escalating the nuclear threat, claiming the United States violated international law rather than the Soviet Union.
The article's criticism of Kennedy's action goes against the overwhelming view that the Cuban missile crisis was a high point of his administration. The authors are correct in noting that the Soviets agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba after Kennedy promised to remove missiles from Turkey and Italy, which was not reported at the time.
While NATO expansion exacerbated the conflict with Russia, that's an inadequate justification for Putin's invasion of Ukraine. However, Schwarz and Layne present a valid argument in their call for new European organization independent from the United States.
Countering Schwarz and Layne's espousal of a continued Russian presence in the Ukraine peninsula, the Atlantic article gives a strong defense of Ukrainian heroism and desire for freedom. If not joining NATO, Ukraine should be allowed to cast its fate with the European Union.
Both articles give essential views about the future of America, Russia, Ukraine and Europe.