Espreso. Global

Why supporting Ukraine is profitable for the US

1 June, 2023 Thursday

Supporting Ukraine is in the best interest of the United States, aligning with the principles of an 'America First' approach

Marc A. Thiessen in a column for the Washington Post outlines the main aspects of why supporting Ukraine is beneficial for the US.

A recent Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll revealed that approximately 60 percent of Republicans, believe that the United States should stand with Ukraine until Russia is defeated. However, this support among GOP members is gradually diminishing. According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted in January, the percentage of Republicans expressing concern about the United States providing excessive aid to Ukraine has risen from 9 percent immediately after the Russian invasion to 40 percent today.

The diminishing support among Republicans can be attributed to the lack of a clear victory strategy from the Biden administration. It allowed skeptics on the right to argue that the war in Ukraine is imposing high costs, depleting military readiness, escalating the risk of nuclear confrontation with Russia, and diverting attention from the perceived larger threat posed by Communist China. 

To sway wavering Republicans, it is crucial to address their concerns and present a convincing "America First" case for supporting Ukraine, Marc A. Thiessen points out and provides a 10 point case for supporting Ukraine.

Russian victory would embolden the US’s enemies

President Biden's withdrawal from Afghanistan and his reluctance to provide lethal military aid to Ukraine have emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. Biden's actions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline and his perceived weakness have led Putin to conclude that Biden is weak. 

However, if Biden had followed the advice of those opposing aid to Ukraine, Putin would have taken Kyiv, and many of the same conservatives who are now criticizing the president for doing too much would have criticized Biden for his weakness. Cutting off US support would only lead to a Russian victory and strengthen the US’s enemies. Instead, the solution lies in pushing the administration to project strength. by providing Ukraine with the necessary weapons to prevail. This approach prevents further weakness and promotes the interests of the United States.

A Ukrainian victory will help deter China

If the US doesn't firmly support Ukraine, an internationally recognized sovereign state, Xi would question the likelihood of a strong defense of Taiwan, whose sovereignty is not internationally recognized. Additionally, if the US is unwilling to invest resources in defending Ukraine, the question arises whether it would truly risk American lives to protect Taiwan.

The US’s Asian allies understand the significance of Ukraine's situation in shaping China's strategic thinking. As Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Ukraine and emphasized the interconnectedness of Ukraine and Taiwan's destinies. Kishida even referred to Ukraine as potentially becoming the "East Asia of tomorrow." This highlights the crucial link between the fates of Ukraine and Taiwan, as recognized by key regional leaders.

Defeating Putin would weaken the Sino-Russian partnership

Xi Jinping aims to establish a global order that favors autocratic regimes, and he has formed a close alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin to further this objective. Their partnership, characterized as a "no-limits" alliance, is a significant personal policy of Xi Jinping. Therefore, Putin's defeat in Ukraine would undermine Xi's credibility as it would reveal his support for a losing leader.

If the United States manages to defeat Putin in Ukraine, it would strike a major blow to the growing Sino-Russian alliance and restore America's reputation for strength and dependability. This outcome would incentivize nations worldwide to strengthen their trade, investment, and security ties with the US. A Ukrainian victory would enhance the United States' strength, security, and prosperity.

Conversely, if Putin emerges victorious in Ukraine, it would result in an expansion of Chinese economic influence in Europe. 

Support for Ukraine will restore the Reagan Doctrine

Over the past two decades, US foreign policy has largely followed the Bush Doctrine, which aimed to fight terrorists abroad to prevent attacks on American soil. However, the prolonged state of combat and the toll it took on American troops eventually led to a weariness and a reduced military presence abroad under Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

In a similar historical context, Ronald Reagan faced a similar situation when he assumed the presidency in 1980, with Americans reluctant to send troops to distant conflicts due to the Vietnam War. Reagan pursued a strategy known as the Reagan Doctrine, which involved supporting anti-communist partners who were willing to fight common enemies. By providing assistance in the form of weapons, training, intelligence, and support, Reagan aided freedom fighters across regions like Central America and South Asia, leading to the eventual defeat of an expansionist Soviet Russia and the end of the Cold War.

In Ukraine, a resurgence of the Reagan Doctrine is evident, demonstrating that totalitarian aggression can be countered without direct involvement in foreign wars. However, the current administration led by Joe Biden falls short in comparison to Reagan's approach. While Biden provides enough weapons to prevent Russia from achieving a clear victory, he does not offer sufficient support to help Ukraine drive out Russian forces as Reagan aided in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.

Victory will save the US billions

Russian aggression in Ukraine imposes a significant burden on US resources. Ukraine effectively reduces the amount of money the United States needs to spend on defending Europe, all without risking American lives.

The impact of Ukraine's resistance extends beyond Europe. Russia's military intervention in Syria during the Obama administration, in support of Iran and the Assad regime, has been reversed due to its involvement in Ukraine. Russia has had to reduce its presence in Syria and redirect critical military assets to Ukraine. Interestingly, Iran is now supporting Russia with weapons, including military drones, instead of the other way around.

If Russia is defeated in Ukraine, the United States will benefit from a "defeat dividend," enabling the reallocation of resources from Europe to the Pacific theater to counter China. A Ukrainian victory would also foster conditions of peace and stability in Europe, expanding trade and investment with key partners. Over time, the United States could replace Russia as Europe's primary energy supplier.

Conversely, the costs of a Russian victory in Ukraine would be exorbitant for the United States. Experts suggest that Putin would likely seek to absorb Belarus into a Russia-Ukraine-Belarus confederation, posing a direct threat to neighboring countries such as Romania, Slovakia, and Poland. Moldova, the Baltic states, and even Poland could be targeted, potentially establishing a land bridge across NATO territory to the isolated Russian Baltic region of Kaliningrad. This would effectively make the Black Sea a Russian-dominated region, enabling Putin to pose a threat to southern Europe.

Such a scenario would necessitate the deployment of more US troops to Europe and significant increases in overall defense spending. Providing military support to Ukraine is a cost-effective measure when compared to the alternatives.

A proving ground for new weapons

Ukraine has become a crucial testing ground for innovative weapons and information systems that are expected to shape warfare for future generations, according to The New York Times. Ukrainian forces have successfully deployed a cloud-based network-centric warfare system called "Delta," developed with NATO's coordination. This system allows for real-time information sharing on Russian forces' location and capabilities, involving not only Ukrainian forces but also local officials and vetted civilians. Ukrainian forces have utilized this technology to push Russian forces out of occupied areas.

Furthermore, Ukraine is testing advanced sea drones, including explosive uncrewed surface vessels, combined with aerial drones to neutralize larger Russian warships. The Ukrainians have conducted successful complex assaults on Russian naval forces, resulting in the destruction of multiple Russian vessels, including the prestigious Moskva of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. These capabilities and strategies tested in the Black Sea could prove crucial in countering a potential Chinese assault in the Taiwan Strait.

Ukraine is also evaluating and utilizing antidrone weapons such as Lithuanian Sky Wipers, as well as experimental antidrone missiles provided by the Pentagon to counter Iranian-built self-detonating drones. The Ukrainian government has even invited US defense manufacturers to bring their latest equipment for testing in live combat situations.

The US military is also developing new strategic doctrines that are being put to the test in Ukraine. The Resistance Operating Concept (ROC) provides a blueprint for smaller nations to effectively resist larger invading neighbors. This doctrine has guided Ukraine's military and civilian population in a concerted resistance against Russian forces. The lessons learned from the Ukrainian battlefield could potentially assist Taiwan in repelling a Chinese invasion.

Moreover, the war in Ukraine has prompted a shift in US military focus from counterinsurgency to preparing for great-power conflict. This reorientation allows the Pentagon to test capabilities and strategies in real battlefield conditions, avoiding risks to American soldiers. 

Arming Ukraine is revitalizing the US’s defense industrial base

The money allocated by Congress to arm Ukraine is primarily benefiting American companies and workers, rather than being directly spent in Ukraine, according to experts. Weapons systems produced by American or allied countries, such as General Dynamics, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, are being used in the aid to Ukraine. This support not only enhances Ukraine's defense capabilities but also revitalizes the American defense industrial base, which had weakened after the Cold War.

The weapons provided to Ukraine do not compromise the United States' readiness to defend Taiwan. The military strategy for defending Taiwan focuses on denying an aggressor's ability to cross the Taiwan Strait, which requires advanced aircraft, bombers, submarines, and long-range anti-ship missiles. These capabilities are not being supplied to Ukraine. Therefore, the argument that aid to Ukraine puts Taiwan at greater risk is unfounded.

Furthermore, NATO partners are also contributing to Ukraine's defense by providing modern military equipment. This support allows them to replace outdated Soviet-era systems with NATO-interoperable ones, many of which are produced by the United States. This collaboration benefits American workers, the military, and the essential defense industries of the United States.

The Russian invasion has strengthened US alliances

Putin's invasion of Ukraine aimed to weaken NATO and disrupt US-led alliances, enabling Russia to expand its borders and granting China greater influence in the Pacific. However, the invasion has had the opposite effect.

Over half of NATO's member countries increased defense spending in 2022, with additional nations pledging to raise their defense spending. In terms of GDP percentage, the United States ranks ninth in spending on Ukraine, behind several European countries. Even Germany, traditionally cautious about defense spending, has committed over USD 100 billion to modernize its military and contributed billions of dollars to support Ukraine.

Putin's miscalculation has led Sweden and Finland to abandon neutrality and join NATO, strengthening the alliance's presence along the Nordic frontier with Russia. In the Pacific, Japan has announced a significant increase in defense spending, while South Korea has also raised its defense budget and approved the transfer of howitzers to Ukraine. US support for Ukraine has spurred Asian allies to recognize the importance of collective defense, especially in safeguarding Taiwan.

Ukraine itself, as the frontline defender, bears the brunt of the fighting and losses. It seeks the necessary tools to resist the common enemy. Providing Ukraine with weapons to dismantle the Russian military while Ukraine suffers casualties presents a favorable burden-sharing arrangement for the United States.

Victory helps prevent nuclear proliferation

The war in Ukraine is attributed to the country's decision to surrender its post-Soviet nuclear arsenal at the insistence of the United States. In 1994, the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was brokered by the Clinton administration, leading Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons. The agreement promised assistance from the United States and Britain in the event of aggression against Ukraine, while Russia committed to refraining from the use of force against Ukraine's territorial integrity.

Russia's violation of this pledge highlights the importance of fulfilling the US’s own commitments. Failing to do so could lead other nations to pursue nuclear weapons as a means to protect their borders. It would also enable aggressors to invade non-nuclear neighbors without fear of intervention and deter the US from providing conventional support. 

The consequences of such scenarios would be dire. Saudi Arabia has pledged to become a nuclear power if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, triggering a Sunni-Shiite nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Japan and South Korea could perceive weaknesses in the US’s nuclear umbrella and decide to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. Nuclear nonproliferation efforts would crumble, leading to a significant increase in the number of nuclear-armed states worldwide.

Succumbing to Putin's demands is more likely to escalate into a global conflict (World War III) than standing firm against Russian aggression.

Victory in Ukraine is achievable

According to current and former US military leaders, Ukraine has the potential to win the conflict if it receives the necessary weapons and equipment. Retired Gen. Jack Keane, a former vice chief of staff of the Army, emphasizes that Ukraine requires tanks, armored vehicles, long-range precision artillery, air-defense systems, and advanced fighter jets to achieve success in taking desired territories within the desired timeframe.

However, the Biden administration has been criticized for withholding or delaying the delivery of these essential weapons. Although the administration agreed in January to provide M1A1 Abrams tanks, it initially opted to manufacture new tanks rather than deploying them from existing stockpiles in Europe. This decision would take a year or longer to fulfill, missing the timing for Ukraine's planned spring offensive. Recent reports suggest that the administration is now shifting its approach and plans to send tanks from the US military's current inventory, with potential arrival in a matter of months.

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