Allies Like Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan Deserve Better Than the Squalid Maneuvering in Congress

America owes its long-time partners engaged in wars for their national survival, like Ukraine and Israel, and in legitimate apprehension of such a war, like Taiwan.

AP/Felipe Dana
Ukrainian soldiers hold their national flag over the coffin of Dmytro Kyrychenko during his funeral at Bucha, Ukraine, December 23, 2022. AP/Felipe Dana

The postponement of aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan while awaiting serious action by the Democrats in the Congress and the administration to reduce the swarm of illegal “newcomers” across the southern border, must end.

It was perhaps justifiable as a tactic to put a blowtorch of legitimate pressure on the administration’s ambition to admit unlimited numbers of unidentified foreigners in the confident hope of granting them the right to vote and assuring permanent Democratic party rule.

That cynical ruse, which was abetted by mainly Republican employers seeking cheap labor, has run out of steam anyway. All polls now show a large majority of Americans properly alarmed by the issue.

The compromise that was arrived at, permitting up to 1.85 million illegal immigrants annually before closing the border, according to to far-right Republican congressman Paul Gosar, who, on this issue spoke for a clear majority, was completely unacceptable. The horribly overworked border protection services have no real idea what that number of illegal migrants is.

The service is thoroughly demoralized by the shameful treatment they received as the American government is effectively in partnership with perhaps the most ruthless and violent criminal elements in the world in the Mexican-slave trading and drug trafficking gangs.

The Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, in earlier times would have known not to attach his influence to such a turkey as this, and he is right to retire from the Republican leadership.

It is indicative of the collapse of America’s prestige in the world that President Lopez Obrador of Mexico has effectively declared a right of Latin America to ship in destitute and unskilled people to America and to make any effort at a resumption of the cooperation in reducing the flow of such people as he made with President Trump conditional on America pledging to give $20 billion a year in additional relief funding for the poor of Latin America.

The open-door policy and the attempted compromise are total failures. Yet this certainly does not excuse the adoption by default of policies that will encourage failure in  Ukraine, Gaza, and the Formosa Straits.

Americans should retain some idea of the reasons for the concerns of its allies about the consistency of American policy. Students of the subject would know that America imposed upon its allies at the end of World War I a treatment of Germany insufficiently Carthaginian to prevent that country from remilitarizing but also insufficiently moderate not to incite a spirit of revenge in Germany.

Everything was to be settled by an alliance between America, France, and the United Kingdom and the League of Nations. America declined to ratify either and lectured the British and French on the intricacies of the American Constitution.

No one can look at the tremendous success of South Korea and doubt that that war had a satisfactory outcome. Yet after General MacArthur shattered the North Korean army in 10 days and was given the orders by President Truman and by the United Nations to end the division of Korea, those orders were abruptly revoked when Communist China intervened in the war and MacArthur was fired. 

We now know, as Zhou Enlai told President Nixon in 1972, that Stalin would not have lifted a finger to support Mao Tse-tung if the measures advocated by MacArthur (and Nixon and John Foster Dulles ) had been taken. This does not excuse MacArthur’s public disagreements with Truman, but if he had been listened to, North Korea would not be a bother today and a united Korea would be an ally practically as powerful as Japan.

MacArthur and President Eisenhower both advised Presidents Kennedy and Johnson not to commit ground forces to Vietnam but, if they did so, to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Eisenhower admitted South Vietnam to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, which included an American guarantee of its integrity. Ike left Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon a grenade with the pin pulled when he retired but why was the advice of America’s two senior and most victorious generals to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail ignored?                  

President Carter thought nothing of pulling the rug out from under the Shah of Iran, and the world has paid a heavy price for the terrorist aggressions of the ayatollahs in the subsequent 45 years. President George H.W. Bush skillfully led a large alliance that expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait but unilaterally agreed to a peace before the war was over. 

President George W. Bush led much of the earlier alliance back into Iraq 12 years later to end a nuclear armaments program that did not exist and to create a democracy, because “democracies do not start wars.” The result is chaos and substantial Iranian control over much of Iraq. America was quite justified in being irritated by the Syrian tyrant, Bashar Al-Assad, and by Iraq’s Hussein. 

That does not justify smashing up those countries, generating millions of refugees and materially expanding the influence in the area of the Iranians and the Russians. Much of the world supported America in Afghanistan, but America’s allies in Afghanistan were left high and dry when President Biden abruptly withdrew against the advice of his own senior officers.

The Biden administration was ambiguous about whether it would respond seriously to an invasion of Ukraine; then it promised “whatever it takes for as long as it takes” to support the Ukrainians until they expelled the Russians. Now the Republicans are pretending that it is not really a worthwhile enterprise, even though Russian success would repeal a significant part of the Western victory in the Cold War and would expose the Western alliance as a paper tiger. 

It is shameful that the Republicans are playing congressional politics with the future of that brave nation, which the West has already let down badly by guaranteeing Ukrainian sovereignty and then waffling. President George H.W. Bush said NATO would not advance “one inch to the east” of Germany, and quickly changed his mind.                                                                                          

The cost of giving adequate support to Ukraine is only 6 percent of the American defense budget and the conduct of both American political parties while the Ukrainian people are fighting for their lives and for the right to exist cannot fail to shake the confidence of allies and the respect of opponents. The best recent news on the subject is President Trump’s allegation that President Putin wishes a Biden victory in November to facilitate his takeover of Ukraine. 

On Israel, the Democrats are paying the political price for welcoming extremists into their party in the summer of nationwide race rioting in 2020: the same elements are now spuriously accusing Mr. Biden of genocide for not wishing to subjugate, expel, or massacre the Jews of Israel. Hamas’ terrorist act on October 7 was an act of war, and Israel is entirely justified in terminating Hamas’ terrorist capabilities.

Taiwan, like Israel and South Korea, is an immense national success story and the United States has only to uphold the agreement between Nixon and Mao in 1972: acceptance of Chinese unification in principle but unification to be accomplished only by peaceful mutual consent. Last week the U.S. Navy urgently requested funds to replenish its arsenals in the Far East and around the Arabian Peninsula.

The strategic standing of the United States must transcend congressional maneuvering. Mr. Biden, Senator Schumer, and Mr. McConnell have and deserve no remaining political capital. Never-Trump congressmen are retiring to try to destroy the speakership of Mike Johnson. The lives of allies engaged in wars for their national survival (Ukraine, Israel), and in legitimate apprehension of such a war (Taiwan), deserve better than to be bargaining chips in squalid congressional maneuvering. 

Everyone knows how much is owed to America for the expansion of democracy and the free market. If America wishes to be taken seriously in the world, though, it will need a bipartisan consensus and reliable support of Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan soon. The nastier states in the world will not be inactive while partisan fools in both parties in Washington embarrass America with their infantile tantrums.


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