Opinion | Tony Jones: Is it worth it?
America sending tanks to Ukraine might make a person wonder how good an investment our support of Ukraine has been and whether further support is throwing good money after bad. It’s a tough time for such expenditures when you consider our country’s national debt and the fact that, as a conservative friend put it, our fiscal house is in ruins. And this is an issue that should matter a lot to Coloradans. Even just a 1/50 portion of the nearly $100 billion in aid we’ve donated to fight Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war could certainly go a long way toward addressing the many needs we have across Colorado and in Summit County, where housing for locals and workers is scarce, roads are in constant need of repair and critical workers such as teachers are in high demand but draw low pay.
Don’t get me wrong, as a baby boomer and child of the Cold War, there’s nothing I’d rather see than Putin overthrown and an opening of Russia to the West (again). This would lower the risk of nuclear conflict and benefit millions of people on our planet. This may also cause China to think twice about invading Taiwan to bring them back into its sphere of influence. Given this latter issue, I suppose one could see the continuation of aid to Ukraine as an investment in deterring the need to spend much more in U.S. resources and American lives defending Taiwan someday.
So in pondering the “is it worth it” question, I’m initially inclined to say yes, at all costs. But that’s not without serious consideration of how far the money we spend over there could go in Colorado in addressing issues like housing, homelessness, education, roads and the endless list of needs we have. But in the end, I conclude that we must continue to aid Ukraine, based on both strategic foreign policy and financial perspectives. It would also seem prudent for European countries to be contributing at least as much as the U.S. is, given that the conflict and looming threat of expansionist Russia is in their backyard.
If there was a time to question support for Ukraine, it was back in March 2022. Back then, there were a number of congressmen who voted against the initial aid package to Ukraine. That roster included folks from the far reaches of both sides of the aisle. Folks like Colorado’s own Rep. Lauren Boebert and New York’s Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota’s Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Arizona’s Rep. Paul Gosar. There were differences in why each side opposed this effort, different ways that each side would rather have spent those billions or would have preferred to support Ukraine, but in the end, both sides were arguing against the package.
That initial relief package for Ukraine was mostly about providing aid to combat the humanitarian crisis that was developing. But since then, it’s been a slippery slope and our assistance has risen continuously in terms of cost and increased direct military assistance. Now, we’re crossing our own red line in sending tanks over there, something President Joe Biden said he wouldn’t do.
So, to me, the question of continued and/or increased support for Ukraine is something of a moot point. Given the billions that we’ve already spent over there, does it make sense to discontinue that aid now, with the job only half done? Without the support Ukraine has received to date from the West, especially the U.S., they’d have already been defeated by Russia, despite their early valiant and successful efforts at resistance. If the aid pipeline were to dry up now, the war would quickly end and Russia would have the dubious honor of ruling over the wasteland that Putin’s war has made of eastern Ukraine. And it’s not like we’d get a refund for what we’ve already spent. Those funds are spent and no longer available for addressing domestic agenda items, be that strengthening border security or addressing climate change.
But if you’re looking for a silver lining, it’s certainly good times for the military industrial complex. As we’re sending military hardware overseas to defend Ukraine, we’re depleting the arsenal over here that was meant to protect our homeland and/or other strategic interests. At some point, we’re going to need to refresh those stockpiles, and that’ll be through taxes paid by you and me. Tax dollars that will line the pockets of the same folks that sold us the tanks and HIMARS rocket launchers that are currently, or will soon be, pummeling the Russian military and trampling on Putin’s expansionist dreams in Ukraine.
Tony Jones' column "Everything in Moderation" publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Jones is a veteran of the IT industry and has worked in the public and private sectors. He lives part-time in Summit County and Denver. Contact him at email@example.com.
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