America’s Waning Enthusiasm for War

Republicans are hesitant to extend further support for the Ukrainians’ struggle against Russia. And now they have a majority in the House of Representatives.

Last week, the White House asked Congress to approve another massive $37 billion aid package for Ukraine. Of that amount, nearly $22 billion is direct military assistance, while $14.5 billion subsidizes the Ukrainian budget. “There’s strong bipartisan support for supporting Ukraine, but I think there’s also an interest in having accounting for the dollars that have already been spent,” South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the second most influential Republican in the U.S. Senate, told The Hill.

In May, 57 Republicans voted against the then-proposed aid for Ukraine. At the time, Democrats had a majority in the House of Representatives. Today, the majority belongs to Republicans, who will have 218 (out of 435) members [in the new Congress]*.

“Now there will be many more of us against such support,”** said Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Some Republicans want aid for Ukraine to be linked to other spending, which the White House is reluctant to do. A good opportunity for this may be the forthcoming deadline (Dec. 16) for approving next year’s budget. Failing to meet the deadline will result in a government shutdown. According to the latest Wall Street Journal opinion poll, 57% of Americans still approve of U.S. aid for Ukraine. But behind that number, there are serious differences between Democratic and Republican voters. Among the former, the rate is 81%, while among the latter support is at only 35%.

To maintain aid to Kyiv, the White House does not want the U.S. to give the impression that the conflict will continue indefinitely. This is why — as CNN has revealed — National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan recently pressed Volodymyr Zelenskyy to have the Ukrainians again declare that they are ready to hold talks with Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian president dismissed the possibility after Russia annexed four regions belonging to Ukraine. Later, he announced his readiness for talks, but on condition that this will lead to the restoration of the territorial integrity of the country, including Crimea. Meanwhile, as CNN pointed out, the Pentagon doubts whether there will be a real recovery of all the lands occupied by the Russians. After the spectacular takeover of Kherson, the front line has been stabilizing for days.

However, I-Chung Lai, president of the influential Taiwan Prospect Foundation, pointed out in an interview with Rzeczpospolita that a compromise with Putin would be a serious incentive for Beijing to undertake an invasion of Taiwan. This would be an immeasurably greater challenge for Washington than the defense of Ukraine. The Russians still control about a fifth of Ukrainian territory, including the vast majority of the coastal area. If they were to retain these conquests, Xi Jinping would probably consider it a success.

Another problem that the Pentagon faces is the depleting arms reserves that the U.S. is handing over to Ukraine. This includes such key items as Stinger handheld anti-aircraft launchers or Javelin anti-tank missiles. On the other hand, the White House has for the first time become involved in financing the transfer of tanks to Ukraine. At issue is the cost of modernization of 90 T-72 tanks owned by the Czech Republic. Half of the $800 million bill is to be covered by the Americans, and the other by the Dutch. Until now, Joe Biden has withheld such support, considering tanks to be an offensive weapon that can lead to a further escalation of the conflict.

*Editor’s Note: The Republicans won at least 218 House seats in the November election, but won’t take the majority until the new House members are seated in January 2023.

**Editor’s Note: This quote, though accurately translated, could not be independently verified.

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