I wrote an article yesterday (published just hours ago) proposing that the extra $50 billion in aid that Congress is expected to send to Ukraine was a bad idea. That brings the grand total in total aid from the U.S. – if passed – to $115 billion
Why is this a bad idea?
Because U.S. aid is the only thing propping up the Ukrainian resistance – allowing the suffering to continue as the likelihood of a nuclear exchange increases; meanwhile US domestic spending priorities are being neglected while we send an eleven-figure sum to Ukraine.
And for what?
Territory in eastern Ukraine that serves no strategic purpose for the United States; territory that is not worth the U.S. investment nor the risk of nuclear war.
I proposed as an alternative to sending unlimited amounts of aid to Ukraine that the US initiate some sort of peace settlement between Ukraine and Russia.
Simultaneously, thirty House Democrats, led by Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), released a letter making a similar proposal: direct diplomacy with Russia to end the war in Ukraine.
The letter was pretty mild. The CPC condemned Russia’s “outrageous and illegal invasion of Ukraine” and re-upped support for a “free and independent Ukraine.” The group even emphasized their belief that “military and economic support” to Ukraine should continue. But in endorsing direct diplomacy with Russia, the group committed what has become a cardinal sin in Washington. The group and their letter were eviscerated, with fellow Democrats leading the backlash.
One House Democrat said that “Vladimir Putin would have signed that letter if asked” and that “that bone-headed letter just put Dems in the same league as Kevin McCarthy, who said in the same week that Ukraine funding could be in jeopardy.” Well, McCarthy is generally unpleasant and misguided but with respect to indefinitely funding Ukraine, his skepticism is warranted.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) took to Twitter where he said there was “moral and strategic peril in sitting down with Putin too early” and that “sometimes, a bully must be shown the limits of his power before diplomacy can work.” Well, the limits of Putin’s power extend to nuclear weapons. Should we allow Putin to test the strategic limitations of his nuclear arsenal before we agree to engage diplomatically?
Representative Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), a member of the CPC who opted not to sign the letter, said that “it’s up to the Ukrainians to determine their destiny, and the best way to do that is to support Ukraine in their fight for freedom, their fight for democracy.” Okay, so we’re using platitudes about freedom and democracy to suggest that the Ukrainians should have free reign to dictate America’s checkbook and geopolitical strategy.
The aggregate response from Democrats denouncing the CPC’s letter is barely sensical – yet predictable and mostly, uncontested.
The war in Ukraine is understood to be unwinnable for the Ukrainians. Only with American support can the Ukrainians blunt the Russian advance.
So Americans, in choosing to support Ukraine indefinitely, are propping up an unwinnable war in perpetuity. And all the while the risk of nuclear exchange increases.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to engage in the diplomatic process and force a peace settlement? What’s the alternative exactly, annihilation? And why are slivers of eastern Ukrainian territory vital to US interest and pride? It just doesn’t quite add up.
My suspicion is that the left is so ardently anti-diplomacy-with-Russia not because of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine – but because the left has conflated Russia with Donald Trump. Through Russiagate, claims of Russians interfering in US elections, and the persistent and silly claim that Trump is aligned with Putin, the left views standing up to Putin as a way of standing up to Trump – who remains the left’s public enemy number one.
The left needs to recalibrate its perspective on Ukraine – and prioritize peace over pride.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.