There is a lot at stake for the west, including the United States, in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
And the west has (mostly) responded accordingly, giving assistance to the Ukrainian government to solidify what has, to date, been a valiant defense of its homeland.
This is a pivotal moment in East-West relations, and the failure to stop Russia and Vladimir Putin’s ambitions here will mean they will have to be stopped elsewhere when he likely targets other former Soviet satellites in a quest to reestablish the old USSR empire.
The west must make a stand.
Thus, it’s interesting to see a new — and old — twist develop: An argument has emerged in the U.S. against sending more aid to Ukraine, calling instead to spend that money here at home instead.
Recently, the U.S. House approved a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, but it met a hurdle in the Senate thanks to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who argued that the bill “threaten(s) our own national security, and it’s frankly a slap in the face to millions of taxpayers who are struggling to buy gas, groceries and find baby formula.”
Then, the conservative Heritage Foundation surprisingly criticized the measure by saying it “recklessly (sends) our taxpayer dollars to a foreign nation without any accountability. (Also, it’s) fiscally irresponsible and the epitome of everything that is wrong with how Washington works today.”
This vaguely brings to mind the efforts of the isolationist America First Committee, which campaigned to keep the U.S. out of World War II in the two years prior to Pearl Harbor. The comparison isn’t exact by any means, but there are some similarities in spirit.
Prior to America’s 1941 entry into World War II, the America First movement worked to prevent the U.S. from getting into the new European war and to instead focus on building American defenses at home. The movement also opposed material assistance of any kind for Great Britain, which by the summer of 1940 was standing mostly alone against the Axis powers in Europe.
The approach then, much as Paul’s stand now, dismissed the principle of dealing with U.S. security issues abroad before they reached these shores or before they became even more complicated, as they inevitably did. History indicates that isolationism rarely, if ever, works as a long-term strategic security response.
Also, the Heritage Foundation’s fiscal argument that the money being spent on Ukraine should be matched by corresponding cuts in the budget is “disingenuous,” as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) labeled it. It’s a fallback argument to justify opposition to a bill, while such talk never surfaced during President Trump’s $1.8 trillion tax cut four years ago.
As the AEI noted, “The notion that the current price tag for weakening Russia is too high is preposterous. Throughout the decades of the Cold War, U.S. defense spending … hovered in the neighborhood of 10% of GDP. Today, defense spending is close to 4% of GDP — and the House-approved spending bill amounts to perhaps 5% of the Pentagon’s overall budget.”
So much is at stake in Ukraine today, and the U.S. has responded appropriately with aid, weapons and other supplies. Turning our war interest into a dollars-and-cents issue is a losing argument. In so many other ways, the cost of such shortsightedness would be far too high.