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Biden's Oval Office Address On Ukraine Won't Budge The Needle

Key concerns hinder his Ukraine policy.

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz
  • Some House Republicans are afraid of supporting Ukraine funding because they worry it could harm their political careers
  • President Biden's upcoming address about Ukraine funding is unlikely to be effective because his policies have contributed to the current Ukraine-Russia situation
  • The initial efforts of the Biden administration to prevent war with Russia were inadequate; they lacked diplomacy and failed to address Russian concerns before the Ukraine invasion
  • President Biden allocated over $120 billion to Ukraine, drawing criticism for prioritizing it over domestic issues
  • Biden's shifting goals for supporting Ukraine, including weakening Russia and deterring China, are unrealistic and unlikely to resonate with the American public, especially given concerns about Hunter Biden's connections to Ukraine and backroom political dealings regarding funding

Speaking to the New York Times this week, Representative Mike D. Rogers, Republican of Alabama, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and a devout Ukraine worshipper, criticized a "small contingent" of "rabble rousers" among his fellow GOPers "who have turned this (Ukraine) into a bargaining chip for their schemes."

Then, he blurted out the truth:

But when you talk with people, they don't have a problem (funding Ukraine), they just don't want to get in trouble back home.

"Not wanting to get in trouble back home" was why 117 House Republicans, about 53% of the GOP conference, voted not to include even $300 million in the bill that averted the government shutdown last week. President Biden, worried that money for Ukraine is quickly running out and concerned that getting more funding may become increasingly complex with a new House speaker, has said he intends to address the American people soon. 

But we predict the speech will be a dud. It will not move too many minds because his policies are primarily to blame for the current mess, with Ukraine broke, and having made little progress in the counter-offensive. Russia continues to occupy large tracts of prime Ukrainian real estate.

Biden's Ukrainian connections. The Hunter Biden cloud about Burisma and President Biden's nearly 10-year relationship with Ukraine as Obama's point man are fresh in Americans' minds. The president is an ineffective and biased voice on Ukraine, so few Americans will be moved by Biden's address.

Inadequate efforts to prevent war. Months after the disastrous Afghan withdrawal, the Biden administration in November 2021 signed an unnecessary security deal with Ukraine to provide weapons and support. At the time, Russia had not fired a single shot, although it had warned that any attempts to offer Ukraine unilateral security guarantees or expand NATO to include Ukraine would be deemed by Russia as an existential threat. During the next three months, America did not expend all efforts to prevent war by aggressively engaging diplomatically with Russia or addressing Russia's concerns. The result was that Russia attacked Ukraine in Feb 2022.

Open-ended commitment. While the Biden administration aggressively moved to support Ukraine by imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russia, its initial goal was to condemn Moscow for invading a sovereign nation. If this were the only goal Biden had stated in an address to Americans in February 2022, Americans would have continued to support him. Instead, Biden kept it all vague by saying that America would support Ukraine for "as long as it takes." 

Americans do not like open-ended commitments. Still, working with Neocons from both parties, Biden has committed more than $120 billion to Ukraine, even as America struggles with inner-city crime, unprecedented migration, and over $33 trillion in debt.

Moving goalposts. Worse, Biden's goalposts have moved. 

Uniting Europe and expanding NATO has become a critical American national security objective. Now, the European Union is so united that even Sweden and Finland, historically neutral states, have joined NATO. But the unity has come at a considerable cost to Europe as the continent has always enjoyed trade with Russia. Rising inflation and lowered living standards have led to public protests, including, like in Slovakia, overthrowing governments who have supported Ukraine. America is also more isolated among the Global South countries. The recent G21 communique did not mention Russia at all.

A new goal then emerged: Help Ukraine fight a war at little cost to American lives and limbs. On its face, it was an inhuman policy as if to say that Ukrainian lives are more expendable than American ones, but the administration stuck to the narrative.

Then, another justification made the rounds. Ukraine needs funding because its war against Russia will weaken Moscow’s military at a fraction of the Pentagon budget so that Russia would never attack a NATO country. Most analysts never believed that Russia would attack a NATO nation because of the risk to both sides of a nuclear conflict. 

The latest goal is that a weakened Russia will weaken the China-Russia partnership and deter China from invading Taiwan, a preposterous policy goal. Given the dimensions of its "no limits" relationship, China is likely to support Russia militarily and prevent Russia's defeat. China is a vastly wealthier and more powerful country than Russia, so it is unlikely to be deterred in the Taiwanese Strait by what happens in Europe. 

The "We-know-more-than-you-do" Corrupt Beltway Crowd. The New York Times reported that Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and an outspoken booster, has said the Senate could produce a package for Kyiv of as much as $60 billion or $70 billion — far surpassing Mr. Biden's request for $24 billion. Politico reported yesterday that Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer were discussing ideas to bypass the House to push through a funding bill. Ukraine continues to pressure Washington to send it more money.

Americans detest such backroom dealing. They know that the military-industrial complex has continued to lobby for more spending to fatten profits and keep the spigots turned on. The Pentagon has repeatedly said that it cannot provide adequate accountability for weapons and cash, and with Ukraine continuing to be plagued by corruption, many Americans believe that the Ukraine war effort greases the pocketbooks of many inside the Beltway and in Europe. 

Biden can try to sell all he wants, but sending money to Ukraine is highly unpopular with the GOP base. Forget the GOP. In an August CNN poll, most Americans of all parties opposed continued war funding. Sorry, Mr. President. America will likely not be budged.

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