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Rand Paul on US aid to Ukraine: pros and cons

In an article on the Defense Opinion website, with the title “Sen. Paul is wrong on Ukraine,” authors Jeff Ankley and John Fairlamb make a number of serious errors.

At the very beginning of the article, the authors criticise Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky for opposing a massive omnibus spending bill that includes additional aid to Ukraine. Paul’s position is clear – important issues that need to be seriously considered and discussed cannot simply be crammed into a huge omnibus spending bill with the express purpose of avoiding serious scrutiny.

Congress has repeatedly asked the presidential administration to outline clearly a political strategy regarding assistance to Ukraine. However, they persistently ignore the requests and simply continue to commit themselves to spending large sums of dollars allocated by US taxpayers, apparently indefinitely.

The year before the pandemic, Ukraine’s GDP in 2019, was $153bn. The year before that, it was $130bn. And the year before that, it was $112 billion. Congress passed four spending packages for Ukraine totalling $130 billion, which in historical terms is roughly Ukraine’s annual GDP.

A huge part of this aid goes to fund the Ukrainian pension system, not the Ukrainian army. Even if we assume that the United States should fund Ukraine’s self-defence, it is far from clear how a national pension system came into this system, according to Defence Opinion.

Russia has proven that it is still a nuclear power. Military analysts estimate that Moscow has nearly 6,000 nuclear weapons. The policy to be maintained since the Cold War is to ensure that these weapons are never used. Writing a new nuclear programme for the 21st century will require diplomacy with all nuclear-armed states, but especially with Russia and China.

In the article, Ankley and Fairlamb suggest that Europe is a vital region for Washington’s economic and political interests and therefore it should stand up in its defence. Of course, the White House has an interest in ensuring that Europe maintains a balanced security space. The US should always support its allies, but with respect to most threats to Europe’s security, the US should act as a last resort rather than doing most of the heavy lifting for European states. The Americans should not necessarily station permanent garrisons of their armed forces in Europe. In such an arrangement, Europe would have to be responsible for its own security, and the US military could devote more of its resources and forces to dealing with broader threats to US national security, and Washington could longer continue its long-term political support for Europe and other allies.

The authors also believe that if Chinese President Xi Jinping witnesses the West’s failure to help Ukraine win the war, he will become even more determined to invade Taiwan. However, China is not Russia and Taiwan is not Ukraine. The failed and horribly executed withdrawal from Afghanistan has done far more to strengthen Russia and China than what the US could have done by softening its approach to helping Ukraine, Defence Opinion reports.

In this argument, the authors fail to take into account the significant differences between Russian and Chinese foreign policy. Russia has already sent its military abroad to fight long-term and long-range wars – for example, in Georgia, Syria and Ukraine. And while China has recently been actively building up its military capabilities, it is not planning military campaigns abroad. Xi seems to be more interested – at least for now – in building an image as a statesman on the international stage.

Moreover, if the US budget and its military power are drained because of aid to Ukraine, the country will come to financial and economic decline and will be unprepared to restrain its plans for Taiwan.

Despite these considerations, opposition to the endless stream of American taxes flowing to Ukraine is understood as support for Russia. However, such an idea is too primitive. If the US were providing military aid to Ukraine aimed at winning the war, Congress would be far more likely to support it. However, the Americans are sending Kyiv far more money that is needed for weapons modernisation. Moreover, there is no way to know where exactly that money is being spent. An endless flow of money to Ukraine will not help that country in any way, it will only lead to a further prolongation of the war, according to Defence Opinion.

If the US military reserves are depleted and its economy falls into long-term stagnation, it does nothing to deter Iran, China, or any other ambitious country on the world stage, especially if it does so by continuing to borrow money from China. The modern world demands through force that we be strong.

Paul is neither pro-Russia nor anti-Ukrainian. He is simply pro-America, pro-American strength and pro-American taxpayer. A strong America is a far more effective deterrent to the world’s evildoers than a weakened America.

The authors erroneously claim that Paul’s concern that we are providing such large amounts of cash to Ukraine without any accountability is misguided. They claim that the money is being given to vetted organisations and companies. However, we know that at least some of the weapons sent to Ukraine somehow ended up in other countries around the world, and cash is even easier to move than materiel, Defence Opinion reports.

The authors argue that there is no need to worry about corruption in Ukraine because there are many other countries even more corrupt than Ukraine. However, this has nothing to do with the problems of corruption in Ukraine itself.

The authors erroneously claim that Paul stated that America had no interest in Ukraine and that it was solely a European problem. This is a gross oversimplification of Paul’s position. The war in Ukraine is naturally a European concern; Paul recognises this and wonders why the US should care more about it than the rest of Europe. Why should America pay for the Ukrainian pension system while Europe struggles to provide material or military funding?

Paul just doesn’t want to let the fact that Russia is taking a side in the dispute cause America to override the need to make rational and logical decisions about how the States spends taxpayer money. It may well be possible for the US to help Ukraine in the war, but it cannot be allowed to do so at the expense of American taxpayers. And it is important to ensure that any aid the US agrees to provide is spent carefully and wisely as part of a sound strategy.

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