Blocking aid to Ukraine is no way to put America first

(Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Blocking aid to Ukraine is no way to put America first

Op-ed, Ukraine

Jackie Calmes

February 19, 2024

For Presidents’ Day, the House will take two

to soften

But first, the Republicans who mismanaged the country honored their favorite president by blocking desperately needed aid to Ukraine, just as Donald Trump demanded.

This achievement for the former president, and the resulting gift to Russia’s invaders of Ukraine, was a terrible sight, even before Friday’s news that Vladimir Putin’s courageous nemesis, Alexei Navalny, had died in an Arctic prison. Navalny joins the long list of Putin foes who have died behind bars, fallen from windows or felled by bullets or poison.

Every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt would have to appeal to Republicans’ acquiescence to Russian aggression. Except Trump.

And President Biden must address the mess that Trump and his America First disciples in Congress are making of American reliability within the global alliances that emerged after World War II. He is the one who has to falsely and repeatedly reassure post-Trump NATO allies to alarming applause at his political rallies, portray those allies as good-for-nothings and invite Russia to attack them.

And Biden is the one tasked with burnishing the United States’ hard-earned reputation as leader of the free world, sending his vice president and secretary of state there this weekend when they met with whiny European officials at the annual security conference in Munich. Conference.

History is watching, Biden repeated five times last week in a speech urging the House to follow the bipartisan example of the Senate, which had just voted 70-29 for more aid to Ukraine, along with aid to both Israel and Gaza, as well as Taiwan.

Biden was right to emphasize that phrase: history


watching. Not that it matters to MAGA Republicans.

After all, if Trump and his followers had any sense of history, they would not have revived the “America First” mantle associated with the isolationist America First Committee of the pre-World War II era. That Nazi-friendly organization opposed the United States coming to the aid of Britain and other allies defeated by Germany after 1939.

Nevertheless, seven years ago, Trump proudly proclaimed in his inaugural address: From this day forward, it will only be America first.

That raunchy slogan remains a prominent theme in Trump’s re-election repertoire, as it resonates not only with his MAGA minions, but also with other Americans who are rightly disillusioned by two decades of costly setbacks and bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan and by the economic dislocations of globalization.

The slogan is now a central pillar of the Republican Party, because it is Trump’s party, after all. And a once great old party, which long defined itself by its opposition to Russia/the Soviet Union, is now playing patsy to Putin.

This shift from global leadership and multilateralism to isolationism and unilateralism is dangerously wrong. If the United States steps back, Russia is likely to plow forward. So China and Iran, two powers that Republicans are quick to condemn. Can’t Republicans see that their words and actions are encouraging them?


opponents? America first indeed.

As Biden said last week, the United States is at a turning point in history, where the decisions we make now will determine the course of our future for decades to come. The decision to help or abandon Ukraine is hardly as dramatic a turning point as, say, 9/11. Yet the response will be just as consistent.

In the nearly fourteen crazy months that Republicans have had a majority in the House of Representatives, they have retreated from several impossible positions to avoid calamities, in those cases a debt crisis and various government shutdowns. (A new shutdown looms three days after the House returns on February 28.)

Still, it’s hard to see them backing down this time.

Speaker MAGA Mike Johnson wants to facilitate a vote on the foreign aid bill in the Senate

of Louisiana

should be willing to give up the job he had for less than four months. Republican extremists have said they will dump him, like his predecessor, if the House approves aid to Ukraine. Everyone knows that the bill would pass, by a bipartisan margin, if it came to a vote.

Republicans and Democrats have rejected calls for a rarely used solution. A majority of the members of the House of Representatives could sign a petition requesting a vote, thus forcing a vote. Many Republicans don’t want to defy their leaders in the House of Representatives like that, or their ultimate leader: Going against Trump right now is a death sentence, one person said. And progressive Democrats will not sign because they oppose aid to Israel, given the horrific attacks on Gaza.

In a second attempt to save aid to Ukraine, a small, bipartisan group drafted a frugal compromise. That too is probably doomed.

The only answer seems to be the least likely: shame on Johnson for allowing a vote. Even after Navalny’s death, the speaker remained silent on aid to Ukraine. He said only that the US and its allies should do more to deny Putin access to money for his war.

Biden has tried to shame: are you going to stand with Ukraine, or are you going to stand with Putin? Will we stand with America or with Trump?

I’m afraid we already have the answer from the Republicans in the House of Representatives.

What’s worse, many Republicans would like nothing more than to make a liar of Biden, who vowed against Ukraine in his State of the Union address last year: We will support you.

as long as it lasts.

If Republicans kill aid to Ukraine, they are on the wrong side of history.

The judgement

doesn’t want to be friendly. Their Trumpian America First speech will receive the same treatment as the original version: near-universal damnation.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles