On Presidents Day we were greeted by the news that a courageous Joe Biden had secretly travelled to Kyiv to demonstrate American solidarity with Ukraine against Putin. During the visit, Biden promised $500 million more in U.S. aid, bringing the total of U.S. support for the war to more than $100 billion.
Despite massive support from the U.S. and several NATO allies, Russia continues to fight. As this article is being written, a major Russian offensive is underway. Military experts suggest that without additional military assistance, including more modern and lethal weapons, Russians could turn the tide of the war. Many of these same experts suggest that with additional aid, including M1 tanks and F-16 fighter aircraft, Putin could finally be defeated, bringing the war to an end.
The war in Ukraine is now a year old. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems that if the U.S. and others had provided the massive weapons packages being contemplated now a year ago, Russia could have been defeated in months. That may or may not be true, but at the time experts expressed worry that if the wrong types of assistance were given to Ukraine, Putin would respond by using nuclear weapons. The types of assistance viewed as “over the line” included M1 tanks and modern fighters.
What has changed? Putin has not. If the Hitleresque dictator was capable of using nuclear weapons in 2022, that hasn’t changed. If anything, because Russia is said to be running low on both troops and weapons, he is more likely to escalate the conflict to force Ukraine to a peace table now than he was in February 2022.
For the past year, Americans also have watched warily as Chinese President Xi Jinping has strengthened ties with Russia. To date, only economic support has been offered. Now there is talk that Xi also might offer military assistance to Putin.
Neither of these two risks has deterred President Biden from relentlessly expanding his support for Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Less than half the American public supports Biden on this, but his party, with a handful of exceptions, is behind him. And the most vocal Republican voices opposing more aid to Ukraine are people like Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who is also proposing that Red states withdraw from the union. She is sponsoring a resolution to impeach Biden for his recent trip to Kyiv.
Much of the press is also supporting Ukraine. Stories about Russian atrocities and about the personal courage of Zelenskyy and his wife Olena are not hard to find. With few exceptions, Ukrainians are depicted (correctly, in my view) as victims of Russian aggression. You have to look hard to find stories about Ukrainian corruption or anything suggesting that Zelensky, a former actor, has orchestrated an incredibly successful public relations campaign.
So, as I see it, we Americans are suffering from what might be called contagion of war. We are slipping into what might turn out to be a nuclear war without thoughtful consideration of the risks involved. The assumption is that stopping Putin’s war is worth almost anything. And somehow those in power seem to no longer believe Putin will use nuclear arms. Have you seen a convincing argument that he will not?
There is no obvious alternative to continuing to support Ukraine, which is perhaps the primary reason the contagion of war is spreading so fast. If President Biden were given some sort of simple solution to end the war—and I haven’t seen anything resembling a workable proposal—perhaps he would change course. That is not likely to happen.
Because, for the time being, a sufficient number of Americans, and a critical mass of elected officials, support the war in Ukraine, the risk of serious escalation is growing. That is worrisome. What might that escalation consist of? Russia using tactical nuclear weapons; China providing modern weapons and other military assistance to Russia; Belarus entering the war with troops. And what if North Korea offered to send over a few troops? And what about Iran and more drones?
If you want to know what the contagion of war might lead to, here is a two-word answer: World War.
If you want to know what will happen if the U.S. does not respond to Ukraine’s need for more potent weapons or stops supporting the war, the answer is that Putin will win and Ukraine, for all practical purposes, will die. That is the current dilemma. It will take more than courage for President Biden and Congress to find the right path forward.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.
Letters to Editor
J. K. Munson says
Re: articles by J E Dean…
Talbot Spy, you repeatedly allow this Liberal propagandist to hijack you into becoming his agenda-driving bullhorn. I understand the need for content, and admittedly Dean IS occasionally amusing in a cynical sort of way but his mastery of manipulation of truth into something grotesque is insulting to the intelligence of a thinking person.
An example from a recent article illustrates my point although any article of Dean’s chosen at random would suffice:
“a courageous Joe Biden had secretly travelled to Kyiv”
Wow. Courageous Joe Biden–who hides behind his press secretary far more often than any President in memory–barely visited our own beleaguered southern border. It only took TWO YEARS for an approximately 20 minute, highly-sanitized, “safe” visit.
Here is the un-manipulated truth: The Soviet Union–sometimes incorrectly referred to as the “Russian Federation”–brutalized a peaceful neighbor because it believed the only country capable of doing anything to prevent it is headed by a doddering, corrupt and UN-courageous old fool named Joe Biden.
There…fixed it for you.
Mickey Terrone says
Well, JED, I think ol’ Winston Churchill is rolling over in his grave after reading that Putin’s escalation could lead to the ultimate “two-word answer: world war”. Maybe Maybe Putin will use tactical nukes, or drag China in or coerce Belarus. If you check, you’ll find that Putin made a veiled threat to resort to nukes as his invasion of Ukraine began one year ago.
With respect to Joe Biden, I’m not sure how you know with any certainty that he hasn’t given “thoughtful consideration to the risks involved” in maintaining this country’s position with Ukraine. And beyond that, I’d suggest that you missed the point that Biden is providing the same moral and military support for all the NATO nations who have grown ever more fearful of the contagion of Putin on their borders.
But thanks for mentioning Putin’s Fifth Column leader in the US, Marjory Taylor Greene. She and her Republican co-conspirators will do or say anything to promote Trump’s support of Putin. Kevin McCarthy’s willingness to appoint slugs like MTG and others to important and sensitive committees that handle crucial intelligence matters are major threats to our national security. As a low-life who sought to overthrow our 2020 Election, supported the insurrection and will do anything Trump calls for, I suggest that any true American patriot, especially veterans who risked their lives to sacrifice to defend our sacred US Constitution, should feel betrayed and outraged by such scoundrel(s) as her.
Frankly, Biden has had Putin crapping his pants for a year now and wishing he had begun his Ukraine campaign fully supported by former President Trump, who’d sell out this country to put up a Trump Hotel in Moscow.
Joe Biden may not be very spry anymore, but he has all his marbles, has tremendous experience diplomatically and listens to advice from most all quarters. He is certainly imperfect, but like Churchill, he powers through because of his complete commitment to our American way of life, our democratc allies and our freedom, regardless of verbal threats from our enemies. Think about where we would be if Trump was President today. Zelenskyy would be hanged, hundreds of thousands more Ukrainians would be massacred and democracy in this world would be on life support. And those NATO countries all know they’d be next.
The world has lived on the edge of nuclear annihilation for half a century now. It isn’t the Joe Bidens we need to be worrying about. And frankly, I’d vote for an 81-year old Biden than a 78-year old Trump any day – for the sake of republican democracy in this world.
John Dean says
Thank you for your comment. You are right, I don’t know that the President did not fully consider the risk of Putin using nuclear weapons. Maybe he has, but given the unpredictable nature of Putin, it may be impossible to rule out the possibility.
I agree with you that the war would have gone quite different had Trump been in office. I also agree with you that an 81 year old Biden is preferable to a 78 year old Trump.