November 19, 2019
The latest incident to incessantly occupy the attention of the media is President Trump’s temporary withholding of U.S. military aid to Ukraine. But no matter what media outlet you consult, there is one question that is never asked.
Russia and Ukraine have been fighting since 2014, mainly in the Crimean peninsula and the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. The U.S. government has been providing military aid to Ukraine since that time. Although $391 million in aid had already been approved in the fiscal year 2019 federal budget, and the Trump administration told Congress in February and again in May that it was releasing the aid, the aid was not released until September 11—almost at the end of the 2019 fiscal year.
Democrats maintain that Trump withheld the military aid to Ukraine so as to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.
According to an article published by the Heritage Foundation—a conservative think tank that supports U.S. military aid to Ukraine:
Ukraine has rebuilt its once dilapidated military into the second-largest standing land army in Europe in terms of manpower. Today, after more than five years of war, Ukraine remains one of the world’s top weapons-exporting nations and is able to meet many of its own defense supply needs.
Still, the former Soviet republic has some glaring shortfalls in its domestic military-industrial complex. Namely, when it comes to producing high-tech tactical battlefield technologies such as counter-battery radars and night-vision systems, as well as the ability to field certain big-ticket items, including warplanes and anti-aircraft defenses.
Since 2014, total U.S. military aid to Ukraine has amounted to roughly $1.5 billion.
The forthcoming U.S. military aid to Ukraine is slated to support Ukraine’s navy and navy infantry. The country’s land and special operations forces are set to benefit, as well, through the delivery of sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, counter-artillery radars, electronic warfare detection and secure communications, night-vision systems, and military medical treatment.
The U.S. has also provided Ukraine with tactical Raven drones, which can be hand-tossed by a single soldier in combat.
“Ukraine is indeed a major arms manufacturing nation—but we nonetheless desperately need U.S. military help,” said Illia Ponomarenko, a defense reporter for an English-language Ukrainian weekly. “Smart, more perfect weaponry gives us a real chance” against Russia, he added.
There is one question that is never asked about U.S. military aid to Ukraine in the aforementioned article. Likewise, the question is not asked in any article I have read about Trump and U.S. military aid to Ukraine that was published by a liberal think tank. In fact, nowhere in any news article or report—from a liberal, conservative, or “neutral” source—that I have read or heard about Trump delaying military aid to Ukraine is this question ever asked.
Typical is an article on Vox that calls Trump’s suspension of military aid to Ukraine his “latest and greatest scandal.” Twice in the article the question is asked: Exactly why did Trump withhold the military aid in the first place?
This is the wrong question.
Here is a much more important question: Should the United States be giving military aid to Ukraine?
For those of us who believe that a Jeffersonian foreign policy of “peace, commerce, honest friendship with all nations—entangling alliances with none” is the best course for America to take, the answer is a simple one: Of course not.
Back in 2014 when Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and Russia annexed Crimea, former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul made a profound observation that is just as relevant today: “Why does the U.S. care which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away?”
The United States government shouldn’t be taking $391 from Americans to give to Ukraine let alone $391 million. It doesn’t matter if every “bad” thing said about Russia and every “good” thing said about Ukraine is true. Not one dime of military aid or any other kind of aid should be given to Ukraine. This is not because of any animosity toward Ukraine nor fondness for Russia. It is because not one dime of military aid or any other kind of aid should be taken from Americans by their government and given to the government of any country.
If Americans feel that country x is being bullied or threatened by country y, then let them, of their own accord, individually or with the help of other like-minded people, send them military aid. If country x is seeking American aid to help it fight against country y, then let it advertise its desire on television, radio, online, or via direct mail. No American should be forced by his government to give aid to any country. If any American cares which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away, then let him put his money where his mouth is. All foreign aid should be private and voluntary, military or otherwise.
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom; War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism; War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy; King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, and many other books. His newest books are Free Trade or Protectionism? and The Free Society.