Helping Ukraine Bankrupts the US*

*Editor’s Note: On March 4, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

A group of influential organizations and politicians in the U.S. is outraged by the fervor with which the Biden administration arms and funds Ukraine. Of course, they support the “brave people of Ukraine,” but only with words. Who are we talking about and why does the very idea of helping Ukraine seem extremely dangerous to these people?

The Heritage Foundation’s bubble has popped. This is an opinion reinforced by an entire range of American experts and journalists who are dissatisfied with the position of the foundation (considered to be the most prominent conservative “think tank” ideologically fueling the Republican Party) on the Ukrainian matter.

And they’re right. If some time ago Heritage experts were always hawks, even criticizing Barack Obama for being too indecisive in using military power, now they are vehemently against, for instance, allocating American aid to Ukraine — while somewhat more active participation by the U.S. in the conflict is entirely out of the question. This stance at its core dismisses the message of the Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said that there is only a “very small minority” of people among the members of the Republican Party who are against the present course of the U.S. on Ukraine.**

The Heritage Foundation’s reasoning is quite simple. Of course, the Heritage leaders are opposed to Russia’s special military operation and are ready to support the “brave people of Ukraine.” However, they would rather give them only their moral support, and certainly not to the detriment of the U.S. economy.

“America is struggling with record-setting inflation, debt, a porous border, crime and energy depletion. Yet progressives [as the radical left is called in the U.S.] in Washington are prioritizing a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine,” said Jessica Anderson, the head of the foundation’s lobbying branch.

According to Anderson, Democrats are forcing the U.S. to choose “between supporting the great people of Ukraine and taking care of a long list of concerns we have here in the United States.” Just to compare: the budget allocated for the 2022 fiscal year for the protection of the southern U.S. border from immigrants without documentation, an issue sacred to Republicans, and other threats ($23 billion) is just over half the size of the last $40 billion aid package to Ukraine.

Anderson didn’t just voice her concerns — she was actively working on the matter.

“The Heritage Foundation’s position helps explain why 57 House Republicans [and, probably, 11 senators] ultimately voted against the package, in the strongest show of opposition in the party’s ranks to Congress’ deepening support for Ukraine’s effort to fend off the Russian invasion. It reflected the increasing potency of the ‘America First’ impulse in the Republican Party, and how thoroughly it has trickled up to the thought leaders shaping its policy worldview,” The New York Times reported.

“America First” (or “America before anything else”) is a motto that formed the basis of Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016 and which necessitates, before all else, finding solutions for internal problems in the U.S. “Now nation-building is back with force, with a massive aid package to Ukraine that makes that the country a U.S. client state. Up next: a debate over expanding NATO. Many Republicans in Congress have already lined up to support both, almost reflexively. Why? Perhaps because they have forgotten their foreign policy heritage. They have traded the nationalism of Theodore Roosevelt for the globalism of Woodrow Wilson. That’s a mistake. What America needs is not nation-building, but nationalism,” Sen. Josh Hawley wrote [online in Compact].

The opposition to such an approach claims that it is anti-American, that it contains, at its core, isolationism that is disastrous for the U.S. But the supporters of “America First” are not proposing the country’s isolation from the world, but rather the end of throwing away billions of dollars for meaningless foreign adventures. For something that back in 17th century was called “luxury wars” and brought down France, previously the European superpower.

“We’re not in the isolationist crowd,” Anderson said.

“We can’t afford to be isolationists. That would mean letting other nations direct our trade, dictate our interests, and imperil the livelihoods of our people. But nor can we afford further adventures in globalism,” Hawley wrote.

These adventures were essentially undertaken by both parties; after all, globalist positions are strong among Republicans and Democrats alike. The “elephant” party has neoconservatives who endeavored to replace regimes in other countries and remake them to America’s liking. Such was, for example, almost the entire cabinet of George W. Bush. Democrats have liberal globalists (the cabinets of both Obama and Joe Biden) who are advocating for the creation of global coalitions and international institutes for essentially the same goal.

Such unanimity explained the continuity of Wilsonianism and has led the U.S. to no good. “Wilsonian foreign policy, left and right, has nearly bankrupted the country, while siphoning away our national sovereignty and decimating our industrial base,” Hawley explained.

Republican voters seemingly disagree with him. As of the beginning of May, 77% of Republicans have supported military aid to Ukraine.

But first, the disconnect here could be hidden in the fact that the people are not ultimately against military aid, but they could be against a) the large scale of it, and b) the fact that it’s done at the expense of other programs.

Second, we marked a very interesting dynamic: approximately from the end of April to the beginning of May, the number of Republicans who believe that the U.S. is doing “too much” to support Ukraine surged. And the worse the situation in the U.S. economy becomes, the more the share of such an electorate (who can’t be fed stories about “Vladimir Putin’s inflation” forever) will grow.

“Although we sympathize with the resistance to Putin’s invasion, we cannot bankrupt our country by becoming a belligerent in another foreign war. With a national debt exceeding 120% of gross national product, rampant inflation not seen since the 1980s, and significant supply chain disruptions, the United States must first secure its own economy before assisting foreign states,” Sen. Rand Paul wrote [in the Federalist online].

As such, it seems the motto “America First” is becoming the Republican Party’s main slogan — both for this year’s midterm elections and for the 2024 U.S. presidential election.

Thus, the Heritage Foundation’s position, along with the positions of a range of Republican leaders, has become one of the many voices in the choir of opposition to the Biden administration’s present course on Ukraine. Those voices are not equal, however. The Heritage Foundation speaks about the utmost importance of spending money on the national economy. Henry Kissinger warns about the risk of the transformation of this conflict into a global-scale Russo-American war. Hawley says that the U.S. needs to concentrate on resisting the real enemy.

“As for NATO, we should have a real debate. The key question is how expanding the European alliance will help Washington confront our most serious foreign policy challenge — the rise of China — and build our strength at home,” Hawley wrote. Nevertheless, in the end, opinions seem to be unanimous: U.S. participation in the Ukrainian conflict should be stopped. And it should be stopped before the U.S. is left depleted.

**Editor’s Note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.

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About Artem Belov 85 Articles
Artem Belov is a TESOL-certified English teacher and a freelance translator (Russian>English and English>Russian) based in Australia but currently traveling abroad. He is working on a number of projects, including game localization. You can reach him at

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