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Under the weak leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the G20 simply refused to condemn Russia for its barbaric invasion of Ukraine, as it did last year. I assured European allies in a recent bipartisan delegation that while global resolve may be weakening, that of the United States is not. Now, in its upcoming debate on additional aid to Ukraine, Congress must put its money where its mouth is.
Many members are reading pessimistic reports from the front lines of the conflict. All members hear the isolationist rhetoric from Republican Party frontrunners, including Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who takes inspiration from former President Donald Trump in saying America should not want Vladimir Putin to lose.
In response, Republicans and Democrats should double down on congressional support for Ukraine. A bipartisan economic and military lifeline will bring peace closer and strengthen the United States. In Ukraine, it will maintain the counter-offensive, the success of which constitutes necessary leverage for possible negotiations. For Russia, it would reset Putin’s calculation that the Kremlin can survive Washington’s will. And for America, it will demonstrate the example of our power, and the power of our example, to Russia’s “unlimited” ally, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
BORIS JOHNSON WARNS DONALD TRUMP AGAINST US SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE
The Republicans are hesitant. Donald Trump has drained the Republican electorate’s support for Ukraine against Russia’s barbaric invasion. Indeed, Republican presidential candidates with an acerbic stance toward Ukraine collectively poll at over 70 percent nationally. House Republicans, who are already skeptical about voting with the president, are doubly unlikely to anger this primary base entering an election year.
This political calculation is aggravated by the pessimistic coverage of the counter-offensive. Yes, it’s progressing slowly. But as retired General David Petraeus recently wrote, military campaigns are not linear. The starvation and strike strategy of Ukrainians is progressive in the phase of starvation and stretching. During the strike phase, the gains could be exponential.
This phase change must depend on battlefield conditions, not U.S. policy. By coming together for a compelling bipartisan vote for an additional $24 billion in aid to Ukraine, Congress could disentangle Ukraine’s military strategy from U.S. partisan dynamics. This advances the cause of peace.
On the one hand, money and material support the counter-offensive. Ukraine cannot negotiate in its current situation. It must improve its access to the Black Sea, its territorial control and its ability to threaten Russian assets before kyiv can have the mandate and influence to begin negotiations.
Just as important, bipartisan congressional support for increased funding would be a wake-up call to Putin. Right now, Putin’s strategy can be summed up in two words: Trump wins. In the meantime, the Kremlin wants Ukraine to get bogged down in MAGA mud. Encouragingly, eighty percent of the House voted against MAGA’s proposals to cut funding to Ukraine under recent amendments to the National Defense Authorization. Passing the additional funding with a similar margin would make the situation clear: Western resolve cannot be counted on, because Congress has elevated Ukraine above party politics, as it did with China .
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These two foreign policy priorities are closely linked. Xi Jinping and Putin are personally close and politically linked. They want to replace the Pax Americana with a new world order where might makes right and individuals are the pawns of the state. The Chinese Communist Party, which is mismanaging its domestic economy, may seek to continue its aggression abroad to rally its disaffected people. Beijing is watching for its weakness. The United States should show strength.
Critics say money cannot buy force if the right weapons are not purchased. It’s true that Ukraine would benefit from F-16s, long-range precision strike capabilities, and more munitions, and the administration should hurry. But the argument that America should do more and faster only reinforces our assertion that doing nothing is not acceptable.
More disconcerting is the false equivalence between Ukraine and Afghanistan. This is actually a case study of opposites. The Afghan government was a weak host partner, where American troops were fighting to no end. International support has frayed.
In Ukraine, no American troops are fighting. The host country is united around a clear and compelling mission. And international buy-in is so deep that it has strengthened multilateral institutions. Unlike the sunk cost of the Afghanistan debacle, every dollar sent to Ukraine has paid dividends. NATO is stronger and Russia weaker – although our European allies must increase their defense spending to maintain this advantage. And the United States is now more credible in the Indo-Pacific region when it proclaims, with its allies, that might not make right.
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Last term, as a young Democrat, I worked with Republicans like Liz Cheney of Wyoming to rally bipartisan support for Ukraine. Cheney and I argued that this was important to the cause of democracy at home and abroad.
Since then, democracy has made progress. Trump responds to the rule of law. Ukraine is on the attack. But the former threatens the latter, and Congress must continue to support this cause.
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