Time is now for table stakes warfare against Putin

Do the dumbos on the extremist right wing of the Republican Party not know that Vladimir Putin cannot win a table-stakes poker game in Ukraine if they put on their big-boy boots?

The collective economies of the 32 NATO nations are 10 times larger than Russia’s. Putin has ramped up his defense spending in an all-out campaign to pound the Ukraine economy and its people into a brutal submission. He reportedly is spending 25% of his country’s gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.

But his economy is only about $2.2 trillion. That is about the size of the economies of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin put together. In short, Putin does not have many chips to put on the table compared to his NATO adversaries.

Does Donald Trump not understand those economic realities when he invites Putin to attack NATO countries who haven’t paid NATO dues to the level that he is advocating, namely 2% of GDP? Can’t he do simple math?

Even as the Freedom Caucus is welching on supplying Ukraine armaments, our European allies are stepping up sharply.

Poland, which borders Russia and understands the brutality of its totalitarian regimes most clearly, has raised its defense spending to 3.9% of GDP. Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, called on other NATO allies to hit the 3% mark.

Twenty-two of the NATO countries have already raised their defense budget sharply. That includes previously neutral Sweden and Finland who have joined NATO in the two years since Putin showed his colors with an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Their NATO membership alone is a huge strategic loss for Putin.

Putin’s soldiers have murdered, tortured and raped innocent Ukrainians in the 20% of the country they have taken over. They have used intentionally sexual violence as a tactic of suppression. They have coerced Ukrainians in the occupied provinces into their military.

President Biden and a majority in Congress have been persistent in coming up with additional funds to support unbelievably brave Ukrainians in defense of their democracy. In doing so, they are stonewalling Russian ambitions to undermine international law and order in the world, especially in the United States, Canada and western Europe. Our F-16s will arrive in coming months.

Donald Trump has been of no help. He has praised Putin as a strong leader and has signaled that he would cut off all support to Ukraine if elected president for a second term. As I have said before, a vote for Trump is a vote for Putin.

We must remember that no American blood is being spilled in the defense of Ukraine. We are only contributing dollars, about 5% of our annual defense budget, which is now at 3.5% of GDP, right behind Poland.

The U.S. and NATO could put a stop to this war in short order if they would ramp up their war machines, their defense budgets and their supply of air power, drones – the new face of warfare – air defense missiles, long range missiles to take out Russia’s military resources in the heart of Russia, artificial intelligence and impose further economic sanctions on Russia and its arms suppliers like Iran and North Korea.

Denmark just emptied its defense arsenals to send weapons and munitions to the Ukrainians. The Danes obviously are relying on a collective NATO defense. They know they are precariously positioned just across the Baltic from Russia. They understand the table-stakes game by putting all their chips on the table

The U.S. alone — Congressional Republicans willing — could enable Ukrainians to push Russia out of their country. It’s a no-brainer that the 32 NATO countries combined have the military and economic capacity to overwhelm Putin’s barbaric ambitions in Ukraine and the rest of his delusional empire.

Further, taking out Putin in Ukraine means that NATO is hollowing out Russia, its greatest enemy. Russia is severely depleting its oil reserves, the heart of its weak economy, to pay for the war. It is losing its richest market. It is also losing its best and brightest citizens to war deaths and out-migration. We are in a long-term, gut-level conflict, that we have to win.

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