War in Ukraine

As part of Putin’s dream to restore the empire and to gain greater leverage over our NATO allies, Russia invaded Ukraine. We are still the world’s moral leader, America must oppose this aggression, but that does not mean we should or will go to war.

First, Let’s Cut Through the BS

Truth is the first casualty of war and may be the first casualty of debates about war. I do not have a problem with someone who believes America should have an isolationist policy; I do have a problem with isolationists –especially presidential candidates and bigtime political commentators– who use lies and scare tactics. America is not rushing into World War III. Nobody wants to send American troops to fight in Ukraine… and we are not going to. Nothing America did caused Russia to invade, except maybe electing a weak Commander in Chief.

America’s Duties: Moral vs. Military

I agree with Speaker Mike Johnson. The US should support Ukraine for moral and practical reasons. However, our financial/military support must not be open-ended and must be contingent on an intelligent plan from the Biden administration.

As a world leader, the United States has a moral obligation to speak in support of a country that is being invaded by its large, heavily armed neighbor. This is an unjustifiable land grab by Russia, not a “territorial dispute.” It is wrong and America should not look the other way.

NATO-Russia map

If Ukraine falls, Russia and it’s puppet states will border 7 NATO countries that have ethnic Russians or Soviet histories,

If Ukraine falls, Russia and it’s puppet states will border 7 NATO countries that have ethnic Russians or Soviet histories,[/caption]

As for our material support, the Ukraine war does not exist in a vacuum. Putin has been clear over many years that he wants to rebuild the Russian empire. His aggression will not end with Ukraine. When it spreads to our NATO allies, the cost to America will be far greater – including both blood and treasure. It makes far more sense to help Ukraine –where American troops should never be in harm’s way– defend itself than to allow a far more costly crisis to evolve.

(Some have argued that being weak on Ukraine will send China the message that we will let them invade Taiwan. That’s a different Elephant.)

Does that mean Ukrainian President Zelenskyy should get a blank check? Absolutely not. It is Congress’ job to determine on behalf of the American people how much aid Ukraine receives and for how long. The days of giving President Biden rubber stamp approval or of piggybacking Ukraine aid on top of popular measures (e.g. funding for Israel) must end.

First, we need a coherent strategy from President Biden. What is the path to victory for Ukraine? How will American munitions make that happen? How do we make sure none of our taxpayer money or taxpayer-funded material gets syphoned off in a famously corrupt country? How much money must Americans invest and for how long? Are our European allies paying their fair share?

Second, Congress must debate and decide how much aid is appropriate. As keeper of the purse that is our job, our duty. With Speaker Johnson in charge, I am confident Congress will do its job.

Bottom Lines:

  • Abandoning Ukraine would be short-sighted. The longer they can resist Russia, the longer we can keep Russia away from our NATO allies –who we are obligated to defend militarily– then the better our chances of avoiding a wider war in Europe that would cost many American lives.
  • The President sets foreign policy –and God willing we will have a new President on January 20, 2025– but it’s Congress’ job to decide how taxpayer money gets spent. The “if we weren’t spending money on Ukraine…” arguments don’t hold water. Still, we are a country with an enormous Federal debt and outrageous annual deficits. Congress must be given a clear plan and figure out how to pay for any aid America provides.
  • The extreme positions (1. Force Ukraine to surrender; 2. Give Zelenskyy a blank check) are both wrong. In Congress, I will contribute to the responsible balance that Speaker Johnson is trying to strike.