Give Ukraine the Weapons They Need

There has been much debate of late in the media about the wisdom of sending Ukraine additional weapons and military aid to help it defend itself against Russia’s invasion. Although the media has focused mostly on the statements of what has been characterized as “far-right” Republicans, it is important to note that so-called “far-left” Democrats, particularly the Democratic Socialists of America, have taken the position that the U.S. should not be giving any and/or additional military aid to Ukraine.

I think there are many compelling reasons for the United States to support Ukraine in their defense against Russia’s aggression, but I want to focus on the idea that it costs the United States too much in monetary terms, and in our own inventories of weapons, to continue to provide military aid to Ukraine. This is the idea that we are making ourselves more vulnerable by supplying Ukraine from our own stockpiles of weapons.

We should put this most recent Russian invasion of one of her neighbors in context. For decades since the end of World War II in 1945 the United States has spent untold billions and even trillions of dollars on our military. Since the end of the Korean War in 1954, when the United States spent over 11% of our GDP on the military, to the present roughly 3% of GDP on the military, the United States has spent vast, vast amounts of our nation’s wealth on defense. And the argument has been, for the majority of that time, that this spending was necessary to deter and counter aggression from Russia, first in the form of the Russia dominated Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, and more recently in the form of Russian President Putin’s desire to reinvigorate the old Russian Imperialist dream.

Many if not most of the weapons the United States spent money on developing and procuring over that time period were developed and procured specifically to counter Russia aggression. A case in point is the hand-held Javelin anti-tank missile. This weapons system was first developed in the early 1980’s because of the very real fear that the numerically superior Russian tanks would overwhelm our own troops and those of our NATO allies in Western Germany should the Warsaw Pact launch a surprise invasion. The weapon was developed to allow our troops and those of our allies to destroy Russian tanks.

The Javelin anti-tank missiles given to Ukraine are being used for precisely the purpose for which they were developed, destroying Russian tanks and other armored vehicles. And every Russia tank destroyed by a Javelin missile in the hands of a Ukrainian soldier is a Russian tank that is no longer a threat to invade an ally of the United States. The same principle applies to the HIMARS, ATACMS, F-16, etc., etc., etc.

 With the weapons we have supplied them, Ukraine is systematically and skillfully destroying the ability of Russia to threaten her neighbors, the stated goal of much of the military spending of the United States for over three quarters of a century, all without putting a single solider of the United States at risk. This is a great bargain to the American tax-payer.

The worst-case scenario for the United States is to allow Russian aggression to be rewarded. The cost to the United States in terms of expanded future military expenditures caused by a Russian victory in Ukraine is immeasurably more that the relatively small amounts we are sending to Ukraine to try to assure a Ukrainian victory. The loss of American prestige caused by a Russian victory, particularly in the minds of our allies in East Europe, would be even more costly.

Even if we put all the moral and ethical considerations aside, notions regarding supporting democracies around the world and supporting various peoples in their fight against those who would take away their freedoms, supporting the Ukrainians in their fight against the Russian aggressors is in our best interest. The Ukrainians are doing for us, in part with weapons we have given them, what we have been spending billions upon billions to do for decades. The Ukrainians are destroying Russia’s ability to threaten her neighbors.