From Ukraine to Israel, Congress Can’t Abandon Our Allies

From Ukraine to Israel, Congress Can’t Abandon Our Allies

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As the year races to a close, Congress has unfinished business—none more pressing than the foreign supplemental request. It’s been more than a month since President Biden submitted a funding request to stand with Israel, support Ukraine, increase security in the Indo-Pacific, and strengthen our border. These are historically bipartisan priorities caught up in unnecessary partisan politics, and enough is enough: To defend our allies, counter tyrants, and safeguard American interests, Congress must pass President Biden’s entire supplemental funding request without delay.

Doing so would send a strong message that the U.S. stands behind Israel as it defends itself against the terrorists who carried out the deadliest attack on the Jewish community since the Holocaust. Soon after the Hamas attacks on October 7, I traveled with a bipartisan group of 10 senators to the Middle East, and Israeli leadership, to a person, had the same message for us: While the Israeli Defense Forces might be among the world’s best militaries, Israel needs its closest ally’s help during this unprecedented time. President Biden’s funding request would provide billions in additional air defense for Israel as well as timely access to weapons systems.

While Israel’s war against Hamas is just, there are serious humanitarian concerns for the Palestinians in Gaza. Just as we are clear about Israel’s right to defend itself, we must be clear that Hamas doesn’t represent all Palestinians. We can’t forget the millions of innocent Palestinians who have suffered under Hamas’ brutal rule for years and are used as little more than human shields and hostages.  

As we stand in solidarity with Israel and provide the resources it needs to defend its people, we can’t lose focus on supporting Ukraine against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s continuing brutal attacks. The U.S. and its allies and partner nations have banded together to support the brave Ukrainians who fight on the very front lines of freedom—yet as the White House made clear just this week, our funds for Ukraine will run out if more is not appropriated by the end of the year. “There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment,” Shalanda Young, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote to Congress on Monday. “We [will] continue to fight for freedom across the globe or… let Putin and autocracy prevail.”

This winter, Russia will once again target Ukraine’s power supply with repeated missile attacks, seeking to subdue Ukraine’s will to fight. Abandoning Ukraine now would only play into Putin’s hands. Waging a war of attrition, Putin expects the U.S. to get tired and to turn our attention elsewhere. If we make it clear that we’re behind our Ukrainian allies for the long haul, it becomes more likely that Putin realizes he can’t wait us out and cuts his losses. Across the 50 countries now supporting Ukraine’s war effort, our allies and partners have provided in total more than we have in overall military, budget, and humanitarian support, so while our aid is substantial, sustaining our collective effort will be critical.

Russia’s war of aggression has also impacted the Middle East and Africa because Ukraine was a crucial source of grain and food oils for the globe. As a result, millions now face hunger and food insecurity, further destabilizing dozens of countries. Africa may seem far away, but the deteriorating security environment and challenges to democratic governance there can also breed extremism that may directly threaten our national security. President Biden’s funding request would allocate lifesaving humanitarian assistance to help not only war-weary Ukrainians, but also those in Africa and across the Middle East who face starvation as Putin continues to deny Ukrainian grain to the world.

President Biden also knows that while war rages in Europe and the Middle East, we can’t overlook the greatest geopolitical threat to the U.S.: China. While his recent summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping did much to thaw relations between our two countries, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Beijing has set its sights on Taiwan. President Biden’s funding request provides additional resources to strategically compete with China, notably through a new trilateral security partnership with Australia and the U.K.

These conflicts are separated by thousands of miles, but they have more in common than meets the eye. All of them are bulwarks against regional chaos that may threaten our security and require the U.S. to send more than just weapons. If Ukraine falls, Russia will advance on our NATO allies in Eastern Europe next, necessitating the involvement of U.S. troops—the same thing that might happen if the current Israel-Hamas conflict spirals into a regional war and endangers our military personnel serving in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Iran and its proxies arm our adversaries in both conflicts. Acting only in one theater may embolden their actions in the other.

The same American values are also at stake in all of these fights. A core tenet of both American leadership in the last century was that might does not make right; that one cannot redraw the boundaries of a nation or negate its right to exist by force by launching rockets or sending in tanks. We cannot claim to be the leader of the free world if we refuse to act when our allies and our values are at risk; nor can we make that claim if we decide that defense is worthwhile in the Middle East but not in Europe.

In times like these, what’s needed is not just a steady hand, but a sustained and forceful response to the complex challenges we face. By passing the funding request and coming to our allies’ aid before the year expires, we can live our values, defend our interests, and bring about a safer world.

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