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$115 Billion Dollars in U.S. Aid To Ukraine Is A Bad Idea

Ukraine Chernihiv
Russian MLRS firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

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.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense 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 has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. V de Jong

    October 25, 2022 at 12:25 pm

    To be hinest this is typically of somebody who write about things without knowing what he has to write to get somekind of attention

    If the west does not hell Ukraine then before we know Russia is standing at the north sea

  2. 403Forbidden

    October 25, 2022 at 1:48 pm

    Ukraine is the bottomless pit for US taxpayers’ money, but biden doesn’t care any less.

    Biden is definitely on his last legs and he is probably aware he won’t be around (long enough) to answer or address any concerns about responsibility.

    Meanwhile, the taxpayers get ripped off right and proper to sustain biden’s pet project in europe.

    As trump once said “…suckers for the world.”

    • Ryan

      October 26, 2022 at 9:05 am

      We spend far more and bottomless pit defense projects that amount to absolutely nothing or acquisitions like the LCS combat ships that we need to retire after a few years, the Zumwalt class destroyer among many many others. Our yearly government budget is trillions of dollars… We wasted an insane amount of money for nothing in Afghanistan and turning Iraq into a puppet of Iran. Ukraine’s fight to retain it’s freedom and to stop Russia here and now at the beginning is worth the cost and something to actually believe in. If you don’t believe in the cause then that’s your problem. The majority of Americans DO support Ukraine’s freedom.

      Just remember, if Ukraine fell quickly, Moldova was next. After that? The Baltics would become the focus of hybrid warfare while testing how far NATO will go to defend them while China took the response of people who wrote this article as a reason to invade Taiwan right away as well.

      You and the writer of this article are McCarthy, Trump-sucking fools.

      • James G

        October 26, 2022 at 10:29 pm

        You obviously know nothing about this topic if you think Putin was the aggressor. NATO and it’s US bankers spent the last 8 years antagonizing Russia after their coup to install a globalist, Zionist regime. To even pretend Putin was heading to invade the west makes you a bot or an idiot, Ukraine and NATO started informing Russia that it would place bases on their border, a clear act of provocation. I’m sure the US would have zero issues with China striking a deal with Canada to take over Toronto and place nuclear batteries by Niagara Falls. Do some basic research into the last 20 years of the geopolitical situation in Ukraine.

        • Pete G.

          October 29, 2022 at 3:52 am

          You proven to be no smarter than the author to think China would make a deal with Canada. Seriously?!

          Your analysis of 20 years of political history is really lacking!! I’m not kidding!! You sound Putin sympathizer!!

  3. Dr. Scooter Van Neuter

    October 25, 2022 at 1:49 pm

    I agree with the sentiments of this article. In the midst of debilitating inflation, this inept administration continues to print money they don’t have like drunken sailors, with absolutely no accountability of where it’s going or what it’s being used for and at the same time depleting our military stores which cannot be rapidly renewed should the other bad actors waiting in the wings make their move(s). Pure folly by an administration that has literally screwed up everything they’ve put their greasy hands to.
    And for what? Ukraine will never be part of NATO, and Russia can afford to carry on a war of attrition for many years. In the end, Ukraine is a destroyed husk, of absolutely no use to anyone beyond its few remaining residents.

  4. Tamerlane

    October 25, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    The less American taxpayer money sent to Ukraine the better. This is how empires fall—over-extension in non-existential areas.

    Athens—adopting hyper interventionist Alcibiades demand for the wholly unnecessary Syracusean Expedition.

    Rome—in their adventures into the Levant which led to their rapid withdrawal and debasement/inflation of the denarius.

    Netherlands—in their unnecessary trade wars with the English.

    The list is long… but the heeded lessons are few from today’s chickenhawks. Somehow they believe they have outrun history and economic law.

    • Ryan

      October 26, 2022 at 9:12 am

      Overextension? This is a drop in the bucket in 5 trillion something a year federal budget. Overextension was the money pits of Iran and Afghanistan at the same time having one become what is was before and the other an Iranian puppet. Helping Ukraine isn’t overextension.

      Rome expanded in every direction two millennium ago with ancient technology. It was only a matter of time before it became too much to control and coordination between the vast empire was impossible.

      Same with Greece but also they got overtaken by Rome

      Netherlands was far too small and a trade war was always going to happen with a rising British empire when both wanted control of the English channel

      These examples mean nothing to the situation of the U.S. our federal budget is over two times bigger than Russia’s entire economy.

      • Tamerlane

        October 30, 2022 at 11:07 pm

        You’re entirely wrong Ryan. What we’ve done by opposing Russia in an existential interest to them, is to force them into a grand anti-American alliance where they openly must seek our downfall. This is why the Chinese, Indians, and Russians are even today planning the introduction of a gold backed currency to challenge the USD as global reserve currency. If that succeeds, the U.S. fails and it’s global hegemony ends. Period.

  5. Matthew Carlton

    October 25, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    The post is naive. “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.” You cannot initiate some sort of peace settlement, when one side of the equation does not believe the other side of the dispute even exists.

  6. Mario

    October 25, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    For a moment I thought I was reading D. Davis…
    “It is understood that the war in Ukraine is unwinnable for the Ukrainians”. You sure, Kass? Do you really think that a bunch of thugs disguised as Russian soldiers can overpower a million Ukrainians?
    By the way, if you are unable to see the deep implications of this conflict for the global interests of the United States, and especially with regard to the weakening of a (more than potential) enemy and warn two others at least, perhaps you could have skipped this article.
    Not to mention that the weapons supply is not a gift but a lend and lease…
    Honestly, I don’t know if we are dealing with a demagogue, a pro-Russian or simply an uninformed person.

    • Tamerlane

      October 30, 2022 at 11:08 pm

      Not a gift? Oh yeah? When will the Ukrainians pay back the American people? What’re the interest terms “Mario”? Stay in Italy, and leave us Americans to defend ourselves. Ukraine is not our ally, it is merely a proxy client state.

  7. Gary Jacobs

    October 25, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    Fine to question the $115 Billion.  It is a big number.  However, I am skeptical that is needed at this time simply because a bipartisan consensus will still exist even if a guy like Mccarthy comes to power.  Influential Republicans like Lindsey Graham, James Inhofe, and Mitch Mcconnell are strong supporters of Ukraine and can be counted on to make deals in congress.

    As well, taking the two articles on funding by this author together…Daniel Davis [who gets speaks in the last article] is not an “expert”…the guy has been wrong about almost everything he has ever posted about this war.  He is a doom and gloom Russia appeasement merchant always looking for ways to undercut support for Ukraine and pretend they are losing.

    And after reading this article, the same can be said of this author claiming ‘Ukraine cant win’. Ukraine IS winning.

    The last article veers off into the absurd with lines like, “Instead of endlessly funding the Ukrainian resistance, however, just or righteous that cause is, the U.S. should be encouraging Ukraine to reach some sort of peace settlement with Russia.”

    There is no one to negotiate with.   Russia’s positions are even more absurd than most of this collection of authors’ long history of absurd articles.  

    It isnt just the east to be concerned about… In the south Russia must be forced out of Kherson, Zaporizhia, and more….for Ukraine to be a viable country with a viable economy they have to control more of their own Black Sea coast to export, and to ensure there is enough depth to preclude Putin from ever trying to create a land bridge to Odessa and Transnistria ever again.

    As well, Ukraine needs to take back the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the ZNPP, to power their cities and not allow Russia to disconnect it from Ukraine and reconnect it to Russia.

    And none of that is even getting into the question of Crimea and safe passage from Ports on the Sea of Azov like Mariupol to get out to the Black Sea.

    In the east, Considering Russia is flooding the coal mines in there, which my limited understanding means that most of those will no longer be viable… there is limited value in those areas anymore other than not allowing Russia to bully its way into annexing other people’s territory, as well as not allowing them to keep a foothold as they buy time to rearm for yet another invasion of the rest of Ukraine.

    If Russia were serious about negotiating that should include a discussion of a demilitarized zone in Russia along the border with Ukraine, and Russia allowing the release of the frozen funds in western banks to finance Ukraine’s reconstruction that is required due to Russia’s own naked aggression.

    As of now these this collection of authors are still channeling their inner Neville Chamberlains, and responsible people should continue to strongly oppose that approach…

    It is perfectly possible to question the money spent and keep an eye on Russia’s defeat.

    There are plenty of policy decisions that can be made here at home to get a handle on energy prices and inflation that have nothing to do with the war effort.

    We should have a much better energy policy here at home. Biden made a HUGE mistake cancelling Keystone XL.

    In my home state of California gas is still over $6/gallon. Our governor could suspend the gas tax and the requirement to blend gas in our state for 2 years, and the price of a gallon would drop by $2 per gallon instantly. That would have a ripple effect bringing down the cost of shipping all other goods. There is no reason other than stupid policy that California has close to double the price of gas as other places. I drove home from Vegas for CES and Edge2022 [formerly known as CES Government] January 8th, 5 weeks before the war…and just across the border of CA to NV the cost of gas was $1.50/gal less. Those stations were less than 5 miles apart. California is %10 of the entire US population, and the 6th largest economy in the world on its own. Stupid policy here has a ripple effect in the entire country. For a state that is supposed to be so progressive the gas tax is the most regressive tax on the books.

    As well….On the Federal level, something to consider would be Biden telling the Fracking industry that there would be a price floor of $60 per barrel of oil for something like 3-4 years, and something similar on NatGas, that would provide a measure of certainty for an industry that has seen too many boom bust cycles to want to invest big right now. A lot of them are taking profits while they can to pay back investors. A price floor would allow medium term investment in new drilling here at home to bring down the price of oil without relying on OPEC. And he can add in a whole bunch of aid to EVs, Solar, Wind and other clean energy so he can sell it to the left flank of his party. As a pragmatic centrist who hates the oil industry, I’m %100 in favor of that all of the above approach also. Biden also made a HUGE mistake cancelling Keystone XL.

    We could also be doing a number of things to mend ties with the Saudis so they stop cutting oil production in conjunction with Russia. Biden Gets an F- with our Saudi relations.

    Biden shouldn’t hinge policy on Khashoggi
    An objective person does not have to agree with how he was killed to know he was no saint. Khashoggi posted insane anti-Jew conspiracy theories on his own Twitter feed. If he had said things like this about any of the ‘protected’ minority groups, he would have been cancelled.

    Saudis and UAE should handle Yemen better, but Iran and Houthis are largely to blame for the war in Yemen. Biden simply cut off support for Saudi and UAE and went public with blaming them for the humanitarian situation.

    Bottom line: we need to STOP always blaming others for problems we can address here at home….AND have a better understanding of the issues important to our allies so that when we need them to not cut 2Million barrels of production in a coordinated move with Russia…they are more likely to side with us. That would also allow us to not be as concerned with our the cost of our aid to Ukraine. Compared to the Trillion$ spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. $115 Billion to defeat the Russian army with no US boots on the ground is a bargain.

    • Tamerlane

      October 30, 2022 at 11:13 pm

      This warmongering neoconservative is an imbecile who has been consistently wrong on every major pronouncement for over 9 months, and whose shilling has ended up weakening America’s military, political, and economic position worldwide. At the cost of only $115 billion, the U.S. has brought forward a major and serious challenge to its position where one was not guaranteed. Talking about a horrible investment. And here come the Chinese/Indians/Russians with a gold backed new currency to challenge the USD as global reserve currency. If that happens, it will happen because of American intervention in this war; and it will shatter global American hegemony…. And fools like Gary who don’t care about American core interests will be squarely to blame.

  8. Peung Shing

    October 25, 2022 at 8:57 pm

    I did not expect to see elements of Russia’s disinformation policy in this publication/website. I wasn’t surprised to see yet another partisan hatchet job though. Students of history hear the echoes of Joseph Patrick Kennedy and Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement in this essay. The parallels between the economic concerns of the post Great Depression world and struggles of today’s post COVID western economies are clear and Putin has followed Hitler’s strategic timing. I am happy to say that the educated leaders of the United States and other leading Western Democracies have a better understanding of history than this author. I am concerned when blind partisanship acts against the best interests of the United States and the free Democracies of the world.

  9. John

    October 25, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    Da comrad! The kremlin will be pleased!

  10. Tomb

    October 25, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    I have a sneaking suspicion that you would not want
    Us troops sent to Ukraine. Now you do not want weapons or aid
    Sent to Ukraine.

    So, do you think Russia should be rewarded with conquered
    Ukrainian territory ? Do you think Russia will suddenly stop
    Expansion with your approach ?

  11. aldol11

    October 26, 2022 at 4:59 am

    it would cost us 50 times as much if we allow Putin to win in Ukraine

  12. Enfield

    October 26, 2022 at 5:24 am

    Someone in the West had an illusion about Operation Barbarossa 2.0 and the result will be accordingly. There is no doubt how this unnecessary conflict will end. To quote Mussolini, he also said in 1943 that the Red Giant is far too big to conquer or keep for that matter.

    All the leaders of the western world will realize that all the natural resources that the Red Giant has will remain in that vast great country beyond the reach of the west.

    The West will crash land with a war that they cannot win but maybe they have made the Red Giant a little weaker how the west measure the results in the final phase remains to be seen. Perhaps the grande finale is not as far away as many think.

  13. Tallifer

    October 26, 2022 at 9:19 am

    $115 billion is cheap for a multi-trillion dollar economy like America. She spent more than that for worse results elsewhere.

    $115 billion is a worthwhile investment in world peace if it stops Russia’s endless aggression and disruption since Putin’s accession, and if it China takes it seriously as a warning against any imperialist dreams against Taiwan or in the South China Sea.

    $115 billion is far, far less (when you count for inflation) than Britain spent to liberate Poland and Europe from Germany. America should be so noble-minded.

    • Tamerlane

      October 30, 2022 at 11:17 pm

      No. We should not, but thank you for your foreign perspective. Us creating a formal challenge to our hegemony for the cool price of $115 billion over a non-ally is a tremendously expensive and imbecilic action. Risking all for negligible gain is foolhardy in extremis. You sure you aren’t a Russian propagandist Tallifer? Wishing such risk and ill on the United States?

  14. mawendt

    October 26, 2022 at 11:52 am

    “U.S. aid is the only thing propping up the Ukrainian resistance”. Wrong. Ukraine resisted long before US aid – or any Western nation aid. Ukrainian resistance became *more effective* with US and European aid (which has been about USD 3bn to date, not including TONS of off book material). Seems even the per-support Ukraine was too much for the vaunted Russian juggernaut. Or should I have written ‘jugger-NOT’.

    “Territory in eastern Ukraine that serves no strategic purpose for the United States”. wrong. First, it establishes space between an aggressive Russia and a pacifist Europe *which the US has serious strategic interest*. Depth allows response, and having an agressor extend supply lines another few hundred miles is always a benefit.

    “I suggested… US initiate some sort of peace settlement between Ukraine and Russia.”. And your proposal sucks. Here’s a better peace settlement: Russia leaves Ukraine and all the territory it took including Crimea in accordance to UN agreements of territorial integrity, turns over war criminals to the Hague, and Russia pays reparations. Done. Your silliness involve the failed and provocative Chamberlain Strategy of Peace In Our Time. Hasn’t worked, never will. Instead – to stop a bully, your drop him hard. Respect gets more than appeasement.

    “Should we allow Putin to test the strategic limitations of his nuclear arsenal before we agree to engage diplomatically?” Sure. Because if the threat of nukes has us cave now, it’ll have us cave every time a nuclear armed nation does something aggressive. Instead, the answer is: Bring It… and we’ll bury you deeper than you’ll bury us. Besides, it’s getting to the point in this world that we need another Noah-like disaster. Thin the herd back to sensibility.

    “[I]n choosing to support Ukraine indefinitely, are propping up an unwinnable war in perpetuity.” Seems like Ukraine is winning the war, so it won’t be in perpetuity. Eventually, Putin dies along with his idiot regime. At best, mabes we can pray that Ukrainian armor enters Moscow and liberates the Russian oppressed… but that’s a pipe dream, unfortunately. As far as the other side of perpetuity…. Russia cannot economically and politically support an extended conflict on the offense that they are in-arguably losing. Plus, the material and men they put in the field are unable to leverage motivation, and their military tactical and strategic leadership is in the toilet. ‘Perpetuity’ indeed.

    I know 1945 likes to put unique views up, but really. Put a opinion piece grounded in reality.

    This guy’s opinion is so far off. His only redeeming point is he listens to Dokken, Hopefully it’s only the original D lineup… but after reading this, probably not.

    • Tamerlane

      October 30, 2022 at 11:19 pm

      Your writings remind me of a simplistic high school sophomore. Utterly unrealistic proposals which would only be acceptable in the case of a total and unconditional Russian surrender—something which will never happen.

  15. DT

    October 26, 2022 at 12:25 pm

    We are a war nation and we love to conquer places that have never and will never bother us. It is what we do. We normally pick a loser so going to war with Ukraine makes perfect sense. The MIC and politicians will make a lot of money.

  16. Muddy

    October 26, 2022 at 1:05 pm

    The reason why our President is continuing to send billion$ and billion$ is plainly obvious–Zelinsky has some REALLY embarrassing stuff on either Joe or Hunter Biden. very likely both, and he’s threatened to release it if he (Zelinsky) doesn’t keep getting the money. Remember that Hunter Biden’s firm was linked to Ukraine, and it’s probable that Joe did some “work” over there with Hunter.

  17. RyanKC

    October 26, 2022 at 3:48 pm

    Yes, Ukraine is no democratic utopia. Yes, Ukraine does not mean much to the US. Yes, we spend too much on other countries.

    BUT

    As a student of Cold WAR Soviet Union, this a golden opportunity to wreck the Russian military, without risking a single US serviceman.
    THAT has great strategic value to the US!

    Send more HIMARS!

    • Tamerlane

      October 30, 2022 at 11:22 pm

      No, it doesn’t. What we’ve done instead is seal and guarantee the creation of a grand anti-American global alliance who understands our disregard for sovereignty and who will now act to overturn our position as global reserve currency and global hegemon.

  18. GhostTomahawk

    October 27, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    As long as the western globalist elites continue to promote this as freedom fighting I’m against it. Ukraine has never been or ally nor is it in any alliance related to the US. This is about resource protection. The US wants access to lithium that Ukraine has at a price they can control 😉. Then the Euro trash who also need lithium need the grains so their people can be fed at a price they can dictate. Not democracy.

    So stop with the democracy bs

  19. Jim Jansen

    October 28, 2022 at 2:28 am

    If the Moron that wrote this is a senior editor of this site then I have read my last article here. It is apparently run by idiots who hate “the libs” more than they love their own country. A sixth grader could see this for what it is: naked aggression in the heart of Europe that threatens a host of adjacent countries and provides the US with a gift of an opportunity to dramatically weaken one of its main adversaries.

    I can’t believe I saw a comment in here that said something about Hunter Biden…. WTF?? Morons….

  20. Pete G.

    October 29, 2022 at 3:56 am

    1945, after reading all of these articles and comments, I can’t stay as a reader or supporter who allows military Putin sympathizers to even write an article and you keep them because of military bromance.

    This website has lost its marbles. Just because you can come up with irrational views about wars doesn’t make you smarter, it makes you plain lacking of any sense of reality.

    Sorry but not sorry.

  21. Rick

    October 29, 2022 at 4:25 am

    If we don’t transfer serious weapons before the mid-terms there’s a good possibility republicans will throw Ukraine to the wolves.

  22. ATM

    October 30, 2022 at 2:10 am

    LOL Ukraine is a boon to the US. Can you imagine those EU and UK morons, we actually got them to send all their guns and ammunition to Ukraine, now they have to buy all it all back from us at jacked up prices:) Furthermore they are 100% dependent on us for LPG now. We got em over a barrel and we are going to keep driving it home.

    LOL Peace settlement, are you nuts. Ukraine is the best thing going, and we can just keep ramping it up. A few nuks in the EU will have them kissing our putuna and buying more guns than ever.

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