In Pursuit of Peace
State of the Union: Republicans continue pressuring the Biden administration to broker a peace in Ukraine.
“Blessed are the peacemakers,” says Our Lord. If only there weren’t so few peacemakers in Congress.
The same can be said for the Biden administration. The president and his underlings have consistently made promises to stand with Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” seemingly with no strings attached. But as the conflict in Ukraine protracts, raising the prospect for more escalatory, destabilizing forces to permeate the Eurasian landmass, some members of Congress are pushing the Biden administration to pursue peace.
Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rand Paul of Kentucky were joined by sixteen other members of Congress in writing a letter to the Biden administration on Thursday.
“Over the past year, the U.S. has been the principal financier of the Ukrainian defense effort. As the war enters its second year, there is no end in sight and no clear strategy to bring this war to a close,” the letter says in part. “A proxy war with Russia in Ukraine is not in the strategic interest of the United States and risks an escalation that could spiral out of control.”
Certainly, the United States has already pursued escalation through its unmitigated support for the Ukrainian war effort and government. “To date, the U.S. has committed over $113 billion in military, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, becoming its single largest benefactor. The contributions of our NATO allies pale in comparison,” the letter notes. “Beyond dollar value, there is also a stark difference in substance and motivation. As the U.S. is further indebting itself to provide tanks, air defense systems, missiles, and long-range rockets to a battlefield an ocean away, those with conflict at their borders have been content to send uniforms and personal protective equipment. Our allies condition their contributions of major military equipment on a corresponding U.S. commitment – all while calling for the U.S. to do more.”
“With every new aid package and every new weapon provided to Ukraine, the risk of direct conflict with Russia climbs,” the Republican signatories claim.
The current regime, however, seems unbothered and undeterred by such prospects. On Thursday, the Pentagon unveiled another round of aid for Ukraine. The package, which includes 155mm, 105mm, and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) artillery shells, anti-tank shells, and other unnamed "precision aerial munitions," and more, is valued at $325 million.
But “Open-ended U.S. aid to Ukraine is fundamentally incompatible with our strategic interests,” Vance, Lee, Paul, and company write. Later, they say, "There are appropriate ways in which the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people, but unlimited arms supplies in support of an endless war is not one of them. Our national interests, and those of the Ukrainian people, are best served by incentivizing the negotiations that are urgently needed to bring this conflict to a resolution. We strongly urge you to advocate for a negotiated peace between the two sides, bringing this awful conflict to a close."
Rep. Eli Crane, a signatory of the letter, told The American Conservative that the "foreign policy establishment is ready to pay for a $100 billion ticket to push our country onto a train headed toward world war." The Republican from Arizona continued: "The U.S. government absolutely cannot afford to keep funding another forever war on the backs of the American people.”
Upon sending the letter, Lee's office issued a press release, which included comment from Center for Renewing America Vice President Dan Caldwell. "The Biden Administration's largely open-ended support of Ukraine has heightened the risk of a direct conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia and distracted from more urgent national security priorities," Caldwell asserted. "Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine is immoral but is effectively a European security challenge. The burden for supporting Ukraine must be borne primarily by wealthy European welfare states who have more at stake in the conflict and who have for decades been free-riding off an American security umbrella," he added.
Admittedly, the letter was light on details on what a brokered peace between Russia and Ukraine would look like. In TAC's latest print issue, William Lind suggests some initial terms for peace in Ukraine:
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Russia gets Crimea, the Donbas, and a land corridor linking the two, but she has to pay Ukraine for them, say, $1.5 trillion, money that would go toward rebuilding Ukraine’s cities. Until the money is paid, Russia would not get title to the territories nor a complete lifting of sanctions. Russia would yield Russian occupied East Prussia to Ukraine, giving Ukraine two seas, Black and Baltic, through which she could export her grain.
It’s not comprehensive, but it's a reasonable and workable first step. Every negotiation needs an opening offer, and the United States should pursue this option alongside other power brokers in Europe and beyond, whether or not Ukraine wants to or not. If the Ukrainians don’t want to come to the table, make them by turning off the tap of American taxpayer dollars.
The Republican signatories aren’t under any delusions that a letter will change or fix the dangerous trajectory the Biden administration has chosen. Yet, the coalition of those advocating for restraint in Europe, whether in the name of focusing on America First, or preparing for a confrontation with China, or both, continues to grow.