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Ukraine Is America’s Latest Stalemate War

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Genya Savilov, Pool Photo via AP

We don’t fight our wars to win anymore. We fight them to get to a stalemate.

We’ve risked untold lives and wasted trillions of dollars to poorly fight wars for decades in places like Afghanistan and Iraq and Vietnam.


Then we negotiate and leave.

And then the countries where we had been at war quickly revert to the way they were before our soldiers and weapons showed up.

Afghanistan is the latest example of our stalemate wars that date back to WWII, and arguably the worst.

We spent 20 years and about $2.3 trillion there and what did we get in return, besides the 2,500 dead U.S. soldiers and 3,800 dead U.S. contractors?


Afghanistan already has returned to the year 2000. The Taliban is back in charge and this week they announced a total ban on the education of all girls and women.

Now it’s Ukraine’s turn to be the next place where the United States is fighting for a stalemate.

Everyone knows we’re generously helping Ukraine defend itself from the Russian invasion that Vladimir Putin launched about 300 days ago.

We’ve already given Ukraine about $50 billion in humanitarian aid and military weapons, including an advanced Patriot anti-missile battery that will soon be on its way.

And by the time you read this, Congress will have passed a gigantic, largely unread, $1.7 trillion omnibus funding bill for next year that includes another $45 billion for Ukraine.

That Christmas present from U.S. taxpayers was added to the 4,100-page budget bill so that members of Congress who might otherwise not support its absurd spending spree would have to vote for it.


That’s why the heroic Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was brought in this week to give his speech to Congress.

That’s how hardball politics works in Washington – and why Washington so often doesn’t work well.

The money for Ukraine – which should have been carved off into a separate bill and voted on by itself – will win political brownie points for many members of Congress.

But like giving Ukraine a Patriot anti-missile battery ten months after the Russians invaded, the $45 billion gift is further proof that what we are doing over there is fighting for a stalemate, not a victory.

We are still piecemealing out the money and the advanced weapons that Zelensky needed to defend his country long ago.

The argument the administration’s defenders make is that by slow walking what Ukraine needs we won’t anger Putin or cause him to misinterpret what we’re doing.

But it’s too late to worry about that. Putin knows exactly what we’re doing – fighting not for victory, but for a negotiated stalemate.

Putin would never have ordered his tanks to cross Ukraine’s border if we had not talked Zelensky’s country into giving up its arsenal of old Soviet nukes in 1994.

We and Great Britain promised Ukraine we would defend them from a threat from Russia or anywhere else if they’d give up their nuclear weapons. But we didn’t keep our word – until it was too late.


We should have given Ukraine the money and weaponry it needed to prevent Putin from even thinking about invading years ago.

Now, thanks to our slow walking, we’re looking at the prospects of another Vietnam or Afghanistan.

We’re looking at a never-ending, open-ended, expensive and bloody proxy war against Russia that uses Ukrainian soldiers and civilians to do the dying.

Someone needs to tell me how we plan to succeed in Ukraine when it’s obvious we’re just hoping to negotiate an end to the war, not win it.

Are we going to eventually end up like Korea with a demilitarized zone between Ukraine and Russia?

We created this mess by not keeping our promise to defend Ukraine. Now we have to worry that a madman like Putin will use nukes.

Putin can’t afford to lose his war. It’s interesting, because neither can we. So buckle up.

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