Let’s get something straight. When the extremist Republicans, including Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin (pictured below), push to cut off military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, they become allies of Vladimir Putin.
They may not see it that way, but that’s the hard reality. They may think they are just being fiscal conservatives, but they have made themselves into the ultimate doves on foreign policy – into appeasers of Putin’s barbarism.
The support of the United States and its NATO allies has put Putin on the ropes in Ukraine, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, Tiffany and his peacenik brethren representatives want to come to his rescue. What are they thinking? Obviously, not much. If President Biden is for it, they, without serious thought, are against it. What is this? Kindergarten?
Have they not read history on the wreckage megalomaniac despots can do in this world?
Though it is a completely different issue, they say closing our southern border comes first. Can’t we handle both issues at the same time?
Think about this, Tom. Putin has already moved nukes in Belarus. If we hand him Ukraine, would he not move nukes there to be closer to our NATO allies in Europe and closer to U.S. military bases there?
Note: Putin is losing. He was going to run over Ukraine in three weeks. Didn’t happen, thanks to the blood-and-guts and cunning of the much smaller Ukrainian military that is passionately fighting for its homeland and, more broadly, for democracy.
Note: Putin just pulled back his navy out of the Black Sea. That retreat constitutes a huge defeat. Recall that in April 2022, the Ukrainians sunk his flagship – the Moskva cruiser – in the same waters.
Putin no longer controls the seas. And, when the U.S. F-16 fighters are operative in a few months, he will have lost his dominance in the air.
We can’t say the war is over; far from it.
But let me ask the Republican congressmen who have lost their backbones in this unprovoked war that Putin caused: What is the biggest U.S. security threat? It may become China down the road if we don’t handle our foreign policy with China with muscle and smarts. But, for now, it’s Russia and its nuclear arsenal.
Second question to Tiffany and his buddies: How much would we pay to put Putin on the sidelines of history?
We have spent $40 billion to date, only about 5% of our annual defense budget. In short, we are getting a bargain. The Ukrainians are putting their lives on the line. We are just writing some relatively small checks.
Let’s talk about Ukraine in business terms, because that’s how Tiffany and Gaetz are making their case. They must be bean counters.
If our goal is to put Putin out of business, how are we doing?
- Putin has been forced to conscript many thousands of his citizens, because of high battlefield casualties. (Ukraine is hurting, too.) Conscription and body bags coming home greatly weaken his political standing.
- His military has been sharply degraded.
- His economy has been damaged and isolated, despite higher prices for his oil.
- Several hundred thousand of his best and brightest people have fled the country, probably never to return.
- His standing as a powerful and brilliant leader (President Trump saw him as a genius) has been trashed. His invasion has proved to be a strategic blunder.
- NATO, the defense against Russian expansion and barbarism, is much more powerful and united than ever before. Finland, with its 830-mile Russian border, has joined NATO. The Finns know lots more about Russian brutality than Tiffany and his buddies. Add Sweden to NATO. It is about to join. The European NATO allies are sending more than their share of arms and humanitarian aid. Poland, which knows the most about dictator abuse, more than Tiffany by a lot, is standing the tallest with unequivocal support of Ukraine. Russian words and propaganda fool almost no one any more, the right wing of the GOP as an exception.
To my mind, as a businessman, all of the above is a fantastic ROI (return on investment) that will pay unending dividends if we stay the course.
Trumpsters like Tiffany and Gaetz will disagree. But they are lining up with Trump, one of the big business losers in American history. All his wealth came from his daddy. He did his best to lose it all. His New Jersey casino disaster is just one example. He may end up homeless after the New York fraud case against him and his company comes down in a few weeks.
Trump is their hero? He’s as much of a genius as Putin, who is sinking Russia as an economic power.
I’ve learned one big lesson in a long business career, Mr. Tiffany. It’s hard enough to do business with good guys. Stay away from the bad guys like Trump and his buddy in the Kremlin.
Given the strategic picture that is moving in favor of Ukraine, what’s the deal in Congress?
Solid majorities in both parties in both houses have created this historic opportunity to put Putin in the loser column. Yet a minority of loud-mouth Republicans have so messed up their leaderless party that majority votes can’t be made to count. Dysfunction rules the House of Representatives.
Ukraine and democracy could be the casualties. The GOP dissidents could make loser Putin a winner. It’s a tragedy in the making.