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A Liberal Magazine Got Blunt About Ukraine

It’s been quite some time since I’ve read something from The Nation and almost wholly agreed with the premise. It doesn’t happen often, but a broken clock is right twice a day. And it so happens to be about foreign policy and Ukraine. It’s a piece that some Biden supporters would smear as pro-Putin propaganda because it’s not a full-throated endorsement of our proxy war in that Eastern European nation that’s lasted over a year. The article is blunt: we can’t keep up with Ukraine’s military needs, these forever wars are killing our future, and it’s time voters stand up to the bipartisan war machine that’s run amok for the better part of a generation. 


Some interesting points were mentioned mid-way through the piece. It’s The Nation, so be prepared that the opening paragraphs trash the GOP. We produce over 12,000 155mm shells every day, but Ukraine has fired that many and more within two days. The economic fallout from America’s perpetual state of war has led to slippage concerning global currency reserves. The Great Society was probably the Democrats’ most extensive attempt at a wholesale overhaul of the country, and it might have been successful if Vietnam hadn’t derailed it. The piece aptly quotes the late Lyndon Johnson saying, “that bitch of a war” ruined his domestic agenda and presidency. It then went into how Ronald Reagan borrowed the cash to fund these excursions, while Nixon killed the anti-war movement by discontinuing the draft in 1973 (via The Nation):

With bipartisan support from establishment politicians, plutocrats, and pundits, Biden has now committed us to a four-front global crusade against Russia, China, Iran, and a continually shifting terrorist hit list. 

None of these “enemies” threaten the survival or well-being of Americans. And the record of the United States in coddling dictators and torturers, violating international law, and invading other countries mocks the claim that we are fighting for universal human values. 

The core conflict in each theater of war is over the United States’ control of other nations’ geographic alliances. US armed forces are present in 750 bases in 80 countries. Analysts on both the left and the right concluded long ago that this “superb” military is bloated, inefficient, and overpriced. The war machine budget just for 2024 is $842 billion. Add the money for homeland security, the State Department, and the proposed budget for veterans’ benefits, and you reach a national security tab of over $1.3 trillion. Lots of money for a military that hasn’t won a serious war since 1945. 


So long as these forever wars were limited to distant places most Americans couldn’t find on a map, and Pentagon contracts were deftly allocated among congressional districts, it was all politically manageable. Protected by distance and dollars, Americans could root for Team America on their infotainment channels. Insulated from their constituents, politicians could play and profit from the “great game” of global geopolitics. 


We have already reached the limits of our productive capacity supplying weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine has used up a 13-year supply of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and a five-year supply of Javelin anti-tank missiles. The US produces 14,000 155-mm artillery shells a month; Ukraine burns through that much in two days. Neither we nor our NATO allies can deliver what Ukraine needs for the “victory” we are promising it. 

At the same time, Washington is openly preparing for a war with China over Taiwan. War game simulations have shown that we would run out of long-range naval missiles a week after the shooting started. The Air Force is short 1,650 pilots; the Navy says it needs several hundred new warships; and the Army plans to reduce its troop count by 10,000 because it can’t get enough recruits. Biden has pledged to make Taiwan a “porcupine” of missiles aimed at China. Yet we have a $19 billion backlog in weapons previously promised to Taipei. 


Today, our 15 percent share of global GDP is slightly less than China’s. Two-thirds of the world’s countries trade more with China than with the US. We run chronic trade and fiscal deficits. The dollar still dominates but has slipped from 70 to 60 percent of global reserves in the past 20 years. And our aggressive confiscation of a growing list of foreigners’ assets is making investors nervous. 


The dogs of war may be unleashed “over there,” but they will feed here at home. And devour our future. 


I was all for blowing stuff up after the 9/11 attacks. Radical Islamic terrorists murdered close to 3,000 Americans. Payback was warranted and righteous, but then the dominant neoconservative contingent in the Bush White House decided to put all the chips in the middle of the table, leveraging American military and economic power to export liberal democracy to a region of the world where this governing theory historically has no roots. Kill the terrorists, remove their allies from power, and then occupy and transform that society to be more like ours—the end game: perpetual peace under the banner of democracy, freedom, and the American way. The theory was with Israel being the Middle East’s only functioning democracy, adding more would increase the likelihood of stability. Democratic peace theory was going to be injected with steroids. All it got us was a trillion-dollar-plus war in Afghanistan and Iraq, thousands of Americans killed, and our force trapped in nations rife with sectarian divisions. 

The Bush presidency derailed the tenets of the now-defunct neoconservative Project for the New American Century. American armies cannot accelerate what should be the organic change among these societies. There will be some who don’t want democracy. Washington must learn this, along with veering clear of the Left’s hyper-interventionist policy of humanitarian intervention.


To boot, the powers that come to justify these conflicts can and have been used to chip away at American civil liberties. Democrats want to use notoriously unreliable no-fly lists to limit the sale of firearms. The logic is that anyone on these lists shouldn’t be able to buy guns, which sounds excellent on camera, but the lack of transparency and due process has been an issue for years. There are six-year-olds on these lists. Need I say more? 

It would be refreshing for an American president to put stock in the belief that it should be a constitutional responsibility to keep the nation out of war. These debts are accruing and will be called soon; we don’t have the cash for it.

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