Why the U.S. Has the Most to Gain From Supporting Ukraine

Why the U.S. Has the Most to Gain From Supporting Ukraine

Donald Trump’s invitation for Russia to invade NATO countries catalyzed anxiety that Europe may have to fight Russian aggression alone, as Trump and his followers are becoming increasingly assertive that supporting Ukraine is a bad deal for the U.S.

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Earlier this week, Trump, who has long viewed foreign policy from the prism of money, highlighted the defense money he says is supplied by the U.S., comparing it to that paid by other countries. “You don’t pay your bills, you get no protection. It’s very simple,” he said. “Hundreds of billions of dollars came into NATO, and that’s why they have money.” Trump went on to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “the greatest salesman in history” and promised that he himself will “get the Ukraine war settled.”

On the heels of Tucker Carlson’s fawning interview with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Elon Musk’s assertion that “we have to kill” Ukraine aid because “there’s no way in hell Putin is going to lose,” and flagging public support for Ukraine more broadly, Trump is pressuring his House GOP acolytes, led by Speaker Mike Johnson, to kill the $60 billion funding bill for Ukraine, despite its passage by the Senate, with Marjorie Taylor Greene arguing “Ukraine is not the 51st state.”

Having catalyzed 1,200 major global corporations to exit Russia two years ago in protest over the bloody invasion of a peaceful, sovereign nation, we are not surprised to have received scores of alarmed messages. We have been reviewing the economics behind continuing U.S. support to Ukraine, and even setting aside the terrible human suffering amidst thousands of civilian deaths, as well as the diplomatic and national security value of such aid, in actuality, the U.S. is the single biggest winner from supporting Ukraine. Here are three tangible reasons why.

90% of Ukraine aid spending stays in the U.S., creating thousands of jobs

Although some may claim U.S. aid vanishes into a cesspool of unchecked Ukrainian corruption, one study has shown that 90% of Ukraine aid dollars are not actually sent to Ukraine after all. Rather, these funds stay in the U.S., where leading defense contractors have invested tens of billions in over 100 new industrial manufacturing facilities, creating thousands of jobs across at least 38 states directly, with vital subcomponents sourced from all 50 states.

Virtually all the munitions Ukraine is most reliant upon are fully built in the U.S., ranging from javelins made in Alabama, to Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) made in West Virginia, Arkansas, and Texas. Not forgetting the smaller-ticket items such as night-vision gear, medical supplies, and small-arms ammunition, all made in the U.S. Any additional Ukraine aid would likely only help the U.S. economy even more, since previous weapons shipments were largely drawdowns of musty old stockpiles and existing inventories rather than new supplies.

The Ukraine conflict has revitalized NATO, lessening the relative economic burden on the U.S.

Though Trump has complained for years that the European countries are not contributing their fair share to NATO—a common gripe of President Obama’s as well—and despite Trump’s threats to let “Russia do whatever the hell they want” to NATO free-riders, Trump largely failed in his quest to get the E.U. countries to contribute meaningfully more to their own defense, and ironically, only Putin has been able to succeed where Trump failed.

The degree to which Europe is now stepping up to the plate after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and sharing the burden with the U.S. is striking. Prior to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, only two European countries spent more than 2% of their GDP on defense spending. Now, 11 NATO members spend more than 2% of their GDP on defense, with some members such as Poland spending even more than the U.S. as a percentage of GDP. At least six European countries increased their defense spending by over 10% last year alone, including some by up to 30%.

Furthermore, although, under Trump, the U.S. spent over twice of what the rest of NATO spent on their own defense, combined; now, Europe’s financial commitments toward Ukraine exceed that of the U.S., with European aid especially invaluable over the last month as the U.S. funding spigot dried up, with some countries such as Estonia setting aside half their defense budget for Ukraine. This is not to mention the addition of new members paying their own way such as Finland, with Sweden soon to follow.

Russian military might has been severely degraded without a single active duty American military casualty

Although critics point out that both Ukraine and Russia are largely stalemated militarily, with neither side making any substantive territorial gains since fall 2022, the U.S. is the single biggest winner regardless, with one of the world’s three most potent militaries severely degraded and humiliated without a single active duty American military casualty, using only 5% of our U.S. defense budget and less than 1% of our total government spending—with a sum equivalent to the amount the U.S. is spending on such mundane items such as software for government agencies; COVID rental relief; and interstate highway traffic signs.

By contrast, Russia is now spending 40% of its government budget on defense, cannibalizing the rest of the productive economy to fund war after losing 50% of its military might over the last two years, not dissimilar to how Ronald Reagan’s famed “Star Wars” program disproportionately drove Soviet military spending to unsustainable levels. This trend will likely only continue as Russia continues to embarrass itself over its incompetent prosecution of the war. After all, over the last five months alone, Russia has lost at least a fifth of its prized naval fleet—the most powerful navy in the world by some measures prior to the war—even though its adversary, Ukraine, does not even have a navy, amidst continued heavy casualties numbering over 500,000 by some estimates.

Elsewhere we have shown that the Russian productive economy is imploding under the weight of economic sanctions and historic corporate withdrawals of 1,000+ companies as well as Putin’s cannibalization for the war effort. While Putin has concealed most of its required national income statistics to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), through triangulated research we previously found several Russian economic sectors have collapsed up to 90 percent, foreign direct investing into Russian has gone from $100 billion a year to zero, there has been a massive capital outflow matched by millions of top tech professional fleeing, over 2/3 of Russia’s exports are energy and energy profits have been sliced in half with a virtual inability to sell its gas to any country and oil sold at breakeven prices. Beyond cannibalizing the 70 percent of the Russian economy he now controls, Putin’s only hope for winning is that Trump will shatter the unity of allies which is strangling Russia’s aggression.

As the House considers the $60 billion in Ukraine aid approved by the Senate, Speaker Mike Johnson need not be imprisoned by his past, similar to how Richard Nixon used his anticommunist credibility to forge a working relationship with communist China. In facing a similar dilemma eighty years ago, former GOP Senator Arthur Vandenberg, a leading isolationist, pivoted 180 degrees and helped fortify wavering GOP support for the Marshall Plan among his colleagues after World War II. Vandenberg warned in a pivotal speech on the floor of the Senate in 1945,

”We must have maximum Allied cooperation and minimum Allied frictions. We have fabulously earned the right to be heard in respect to the basis of this unity. We need the earliest possible clarification of our relations with our brave allies.”

One does not even need to consider what the ripple effect of an appeasement-pleading surrender to Putin’s brutal imperial ambitions would mean for Central Europe, not to mention Taiwan, and the global economic crisis that would cause, to see why the U.S is the single biggest winner from supporting Ukraine, with substantial, immediate, and tangible benefits for not just American security but also even the U.S. economy.

We need to not succumb to Trump’s pathological career-long fear of partnership and collective action. As isolationist Vanderberg said, we must unify around “the most courageous thinking of which we are capable.” We confront such a moment now, but supporting Ukraine is not just an act of courage, or even charity. Supporting Ukraine is in our self-interest, and America is the single biggest winner from supporting Ukraine.

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