By Bruce Bialosky
Americans barely knew nor thought about Ukraine until Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces invaded the country, which then erupted into the largest land war in Europe for at least 75 years. The vast majority of support for Ukraine has been supplied by Americans, led by folks who just 50 years ago were devotees of the anti-war movement. Let’s take a look.
We can pretty much agree that Russia’s actions are barbaric and something we thought we moved past in the civilized world. We can also pretty much agree that Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s elected leader, has been steadfast in his defense of his country. We can also agree that the Ukrainians have put forth a valiant effort to rid themselves of the Russian invaders without asking for America or its allies to supply troops. They have told the world: “give us arms and we will fight and win the war.” There is not much dispute on these points.
My concern is that anyone espousing something other than blind allegiance and support to Ukraine is branded as a malcontent and thus misguided. Many elected officials and some members of the press (on both sides) are pointing at these people as traitors to the cause. Let me remind you we have the guaranteed right of dissent in this country and let me also remind you this is not World War II where we were attacked.
There are two parts to question here – money and Zelenskyy.
We have already provided vast sums of money to Ukraine and more will be coming. The first question is where are our allies? Some have been there — mainly Poland and the three Baltic states. We have provided more military aid than all other countries combined. The rich countries of Europe like Germany and France have been verbally supportive but lacking in financial support. Once again it has fallen on our shoulders while the others watch from the sidelines.
Do not be fooled by the recent commitment by some countries to supply tanks. They cannot even come to an agreement to accomplish that.
At some point this war will end and who do you think will get stuck with the bill to rebuild Ukraine? French and German engineering firms will be anxious to provide services, to be paid with American dollars.
If Biden is pressuring other countries to do their appropriate share, then he is doing so very quietly and highly unsuccessfully.
Then there is the question of where our money is going and assuring it does not end up in Swiss bank accounts. I recently discussed this issue with someone who countered that our government rarely knows where vast sums of money we allocate lands. That certainly is a fair point. However, it is still important to make sure U.S. dollars sent to Ukraine are properly spent and on American goods where possible.
When Zelenskyy was recently in the U.S., one publication I read briefly mentioned a person was on the job who monitors expenditures for the military. If that is so, let us see a report. The military is big on reports. Ukraine was a notoriously corrupt country before the war. That alone dictates extra caution.
Then there is the problem of Zelensky himself. We are constantly told this is a fight between a Democracy versus an Autocracy. That may be so, but in multiple ways that is not true since the war started.
1. Outlawed long-standing recognized religions in the country.
2. He has outlawed opposing political parties.
3. He has put restrictions on free speech.
4. Signed a bill that would permit him to control all media, censor new online sites and shut down new sites.
If these matters were brought forward by Biden while Zelenskyy was here, then Biden’s people should have announced that loudly and clearly. When all those members of Congress were warning us about not supporting Ukraine and were providing greater funds, they should have been pressuring Zelenskyy to reverse these restrictions on basic freedoms.
People will argue that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. They will argue during World War II we imprisoned Japanese Americans and did other things restricting communications. All those actions are now looked upon as tragic mistakes in our history. Why should we be condoning these actions in a country that knows without our funding they would have probably been crushed?
There have been reports that the allies have wanted to pursue peace talks and Ukraine has rejected them. Now the Ukrainian foreign minister has finally stated publicly they would be interested in having discussions starting in February. The United States has done little to pursue a peace track even while the war threatens to cost more lives and potentially expand beyond Ukraine’s borders.
It is not supportive of Putin and Russia to question these matters. In fact, it is errant on the part of our leaders not to question these concerns, and worse that they would attack anyone who does.
We want to make sure that all those countries are really with us and not just spewing platitudes. Europe is still not fully carrying its weight in NATO. This should be a test of their resolve and real commitment. We are not supporting this cause in Ukraine to end up with a country that is contrary to our democratic values.
It is right and just to bring up these points. When people want to close off debate on a subject that is when you should question the validity of their positions.
This article was first published by FlashReport and is reproduced by permission of the author.
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