Tanks a lot, Joe!
SOTU: President Biden insists America’s gift to Ukraine of 31 Abrams tanks, the very tank that rolled through Kuwait and Iraq, is just for defensive purposes.
“It's finally Abrams o'clock for Ukraine,” read the headline of Politico’s National Security Daily newsletter Tuesday as unnamed Biden administration officials said the president would shortly announce the U.S. will be giving Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
“Happy Tanks-giving, everybody!” the first line of the Lockheed Martin–sponsored newsletter read. For now, it’s all pun and games for America’s arm-chair war reporters. It might not be for long.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden made it official. The United States will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks, one Ukrainian battalion’s worth, to Ukraine.
Tanks for Ukraine will come from other nations as well. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose government has been criticized by other European nations as of late for stalling on more military aid to Ukraine, announced it will send Ukraine 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to start with. In total, the Germans hope to give Ukraine 88 tanks, or two battalions worth.
There’s more to Biden’s tank transfer than just delivering the weaponry and giving Ukrainian soldiers the keys. The Abrams is the best tank in America’s arsenal. Only a few other countries know how to operate the Abram’s systems, and Ukraine is not one of them. Therefore, as Biden admitted Wednesday, the U.S. will also be providing the parts, equipment, and training necessary for Ukrainian forces to operate and maintain them.
Biden said the tank transfer was about “helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land.” The president insisted, “It is not an offensive threat to Russia.” He repeated himself: “There is no offensive threat to Russia,” Biden said. Remember, he's talking about the tank that rolled straight through Kuwait and leveled Iraq.
The Biden administration can say the tanks are defensive in nature all it wants, but the Russians will recognize the reality: The capacity of the Abrams tanks marks a clear escalation for America’s involvement in Ukraine.
The reason being is that the missile systems the U.S. and NATO allies have provided Ukraine previously in large numbers aren't the kinds of weaponry that one can use for a swift and deep sally. With the Abrams tanks, however, the Ukrainians will be increasingly tempted to make a move on the previously-annexed Crimea if the Ukrainians manage to turn the tide and put the Russians on the run, rather than grinding the Russian offensive down overtime.
And President Vladimir Putin’s threats have been abundantly clear: Any attempt to recapture or attack Crimea, in Russia’s mind, constitutes an invasion of Russian territory, and Russia is prepared to defend it with nuclear weapons.
“First come the tanks, then come the nukes. Get this crazy war ended, now. So easy to do!" former President Donald Trump posted on Truth Social. He’s right. All America has to do is turn off the spigot of endless aid dollars, and leave Ukraine’s defense up to the heavily-armed Ukrainians and Europe.
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But why would those who profit from the global American empire’s interventions ever want that? Military contractors are bringing in massive amounts of revenue from U.S. weapons purchases for Ukraine. Financial and investment firms, such as BlackRock, JP Morgan, and others recently named by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an address to the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, are preparing to invest in Ukraine’s reconstruction. Isn’t it convenient that less than a year after the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan, America finds itself financing another war and potentially another nation-building project?
Furthermore, ideological commitments to liberal democracy have led the Biden administration to say it will support Ukraine for as long as it takes. Paired with direct threats of nuclear escalation by the Russians, the war in Ukraine into an insane game of chicken.
The art of diplomacy is finding a way for both sides to back down while saving face or maintaining credibility. But, as Zelensky now demands American fighter jets before the Abrams are even on the battlefield, there might be no face to save once the dust settles.