Imperial Overreach*


*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, 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.

Americanist Konstantin Sukhoverkhov — on the topic of contradictions inside the U.S. regarding funding to Israel and Ukraine

Congress and the White House have been at odds now for a month over funding Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Joe Biden proposed a bill that would allocate aid to all three countries at the same time, as well as bolster the southern U.S. border. (Specifically, the bill allocates $61.4 billion to Ukraine and $14.3 billion to strengthen Israel’s security.) However, Republicans, (especially the party’s right wing) have refused to consider allocating additional fund, forcing the president’s project to a halt.

The Republicans are demanding that Congress provide aid to Ukraine and Israel separately. The Republicans also insist on auditing the aid to Ukraine so Congress and the public can determine where U.S. money is going.

However, Biden has already said he will veto the Republican version of the bill if it passes the House and the Senate. And Senate Democrats who hold a majority in that house have already said they won’t support a separate bill on additional aid to Ukraine without also including Israel and Taiwan. Accordingly, the fate of funding Ukraine is now unclear, although the U.S. said last week it plans to announce a $425 million military aid package to Ukraine. In that case, however, we’re talking about support to Kyiv conducted through the Presidential Drawdown Authority mechanism, which allows the president to transfer inventory of federal stock to other [foreign] country without congressional consent.

The situation with Israel is somewhat simpler. No one disagrees about the need to provide additional funds to the Jewish state. There is a conditional party division on supporting each side in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Republicans have greater support for Israel, while there are some among the Democrats who are advocating for Palestine. But this has not had any impact on a mutual understanding about the need for aid and cooperation with Amerca’s main ally in the Middle East.

The U.S. provides Israel with about $3 billion annually. Since 2019, this has increased to almost $4 billion every year, and is linked to the fact that cooperation with Israel benefits the U.S. military-industrial complex. Mutual scientific research and development allow Israel to develop its own arms. The U.S. will provide additional aid to Israel it is currently trying to tie it to Ukrainian aid. The House passed the bill for $14.3 billion in separate aid to Israel, but Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he won’t put it to a vote in the Senate.

As for Taipei, despite the official U.S. commitment to the One-China policy, Washington views Taiwan as an element of opposition to Beijing. The main reasons for this are the high level of development of its high-tech equipment production and the unwillingness to cede it to Beijing, as well as the opportunity to put military and political pressure on China. Moreover, we shouldn’t forget the United States’ National Security Strategy considers China and Russia the main threats to national security, and the American establishment views Beijing as the more dangerous strategic challenge. China poses a threat to the political, economic, technological and military interests of Washington. The need for American financial investments in Taipei is also unlikely to be contested on Capitol Hill.

But here’s the question. Can the U.S. even afford financial or other even broader involvement in the conflict in Europe, in the Middle East, as well as in a theoretical conflict in the Pacific? Wouldn’t it be an imperial overreach? In the case of the U.S. today — the answer is more “no” than “yes.” Recently the U.S. president asserted that “We’re the United States of America for God’s sake, the most powerful nation in the history — not in the world, in the history of the world. The history of the world. We can take care of both of these and still maintain our overall international defense.”

The first part of the president’s remarks rings true for an American voter, first of all. Or it needs to be true. As for the second part of the president’s remarks, here Biden is correct. One way or another, Congress will find the money for additional aid to Ukraine, to Israel, and for needs and objectives. This is simply a matter of Congress and the president finding a compromise and making concessions. But we can’t ignore the fact that the events in Ukraine and the Middle East are depleting Washington’s resources and its means of solving other pressing domestic and foreign policy challenges.

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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 belov.g.artem@gmail.com

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