December 23, 2022

Zelensky’s Speech

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy told cheering U.S. legislators during a defiant wartime visit to the nation’s capital on Wednesday that against all odds his country still stands, thanking Americans for helping to fund the war effort with money that is ‘not charity,’ but an ‘investment’ in global security and democracy.” AP News

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From the Left

The left praises Zelensky and urges continued support for Ukraine.

“Had the Russian plan been carried out as it was written… Russian soldiers, strengthened by their stunning victory, would already be on the borders of Poland, setting up new command posts, digging new trenches. NATO would be in chaos; the entire alliance would be forced to spend billions to prepare for the inevitable invasion of Warsaw, Vilnius, or Berlin…

“On the other side of the world, Chinese plans to invade Taiwan would be well under way, because Beijing would assume that an America unwilling to defend a European ally, and now totally bogged down in a long-term battle against an emboldened Russia, would never go out of its way to help an island in the Pacific. The Iranian mullahs, equally cheered by Russia’s success and Ukraine’s defeat, would have boldly announced that they had finally acquired nuclear weapons…

But none of this happened. Because Zelensky stayed in Kyiv… Zelensky came to Washington to thank Americans on behalf of Ukraine, but in truth, it is we who should be thanking them.”

Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic

“[Wednesday] sent a strong signal of commitment — material and political, Ukrainian and American. As such, the day provided a capstone to a year that began amid fear of a quick and complete Russian conquest but is ending in frustration for Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Ukraine has lost territory, to be sure; but it has taken some back. The chances that it will emerge from war as a viable state are far greater than the chances Russia will swallow it. Ukraine did not capitulate in a matter of days, as Mr. Putin had planned, and the combat has been costly in blood and treasure for Russia as well as Ukraine…

“To call this unexpected situation a miracle would not do justice to the courage and sacrifice of the Ukrainian people, led by Mr. Zelensky. Nor would it give due credit to the strategic choices the Biden administration and the United States’ NATO allies made, none of which was foreordained, all of which were fraught with risk — and most of which have paid off… The U.S. commitment to Ukraine is costly ― but much less costly than it would be to live in a world in which Mr. Putin makes the rules.”

Editorial Board, Washington Post

“In his address to Congress, Zelensky said emphatically that he seeks ‘absolute victory’ over Russia, the same kind of triumph that President Franklin D. Roosevelt promised as the United States was entering World War II. ‘The Ukrainian people will win, too, absolutely,’ he said. Zelensky used the word ‘victory’ 11 times in his speech, and once during his remarks to reporters at the White House after his meeting with President Biden…

“Tellingly, Biden didn’t use the word a single time. Instead, he promised support for Ukraine’s ‘unbreakable determination … to choose their own path’ and pledged: ‘We will stay with you for as long as it takes.’… At some point next year, the tension beneath the surface in this war summit will have to be addressed. There will need to be greater clarity and convergence on what Ukrainian success looks like, short of ‘absolute victory.’ But for now, let’s take Zelensky’s formula.”

David Ignatius, Washington Post

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of current aid to Ukraine, but worries that it will turn into a long-term commitment.

The right is generally supportive of current aid to Ukraine, but worries that it will turn into a long-term commitment.

“Congress’s spending bill includes about $45 billion in security and economic assistance for Ukraine, and that could put the total north of $100 billion. But plenty of the cash is flowing to core American priorities: almost $12 billion in the latest round is for replenishing U.S. weapons stocks, and nearly $7 billion for U.S. troops in Europe…

“Economist Timothy Ash wrote in November that Ukraine aid is ‘an incredibly cost-effective investment,’ burning up Russia’s military power for a single-digit share of the Pentagon’s annual budget, though Moscow is one of America’s most formidable adversaries…

“Many of the same Republicans sneering at Mr. Zelensky will claim the U.S. needs to abandon Ukraine to focus on China. But Beijing and Moscow are working together to undermine the West. The best step the U.S. could take to deter another assault like Mr. Putin’s is delivering to Ukraine more of the best long-range weapons, aircraft, missiles, tanks and other tools it needs to defeat the invasion.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

At the same time, “There is no end in sight for the war in Ukraine. If we’re looking at $100 billion a year for as long as the war goes on, that could mean several hundred billion more dollars. Estimates for the costs of rebuilding Ukraine have ranged from $350 billion to $750 billion — and those estimates are only going to go higher…

“And yet, there has not been a real debate about whether we should be comfortable with that level of commitment, or, if so, how we should pay for it…

“[The national] debt is at its highest level since World War II… If Mitch McConnell believes, as he has said, that the most important priority for Republicans in the defense budget is to deliver aid to Ukraine, he should say which aspects of the defense budget he views as being of lower priority, or identify cuts elsewhere in the budget to pay for it. If Democrats believe that funding Ukraine aid is critical, they should decide whether doing so is more important than protecting entitlements or advancing other spending priorities.”

Philip Klein, Washington Examiner

Some argue, “The most important challenge facing the United States, according to the leader of Senate Republicans, is shoveling more money to Ukraine?!? Not the massive crisis on America's southern border, which Washington has demonstrated no interest in solving. Not the drug abuse crisis (fentanyl) that is killing so many Americans. Not growing wealth inequality and related structural economic issues, which means that young people today are going to live materially worse lives than their parents. Not China, America's real geopolitical rival. Not rising crime…

“All these things are happening in America, to Americans, but none of that matters to the Republican leadership as much as Ukraine. Let history show that while their own country fell apart, Republican leadership was more interested in this proxy war with Russia -- which, surprise!, ends up enriching defense contractors.”

Rod Dreher, American Conservative

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