All I want for Christmas are a few new toys! Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and its ensuing bloody struggles have put war back on the table for this year’s holiday season. With Black Friday already fast receding in the rear-view mirror, the Pentagon is wasting no time to cash in on this year’s events and has telegraphed its preferred choices of items to be found beneath its tree. Two items, one this week unveiled, the Air Force’s B-21 Raider stealth bomber ($200B) and the other this week contract awarded, the Army’s V-280 Valor helicopter ($80B), would make any young general squeal with delight when finding either of them on Christmas morning. It is Christmas though, so why not both? As any smart kid knows, if you want to wake up to finding an “official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time”, you need to begin campaigning early for it. Otherwise, you could get your eye shot out, ask Ralphie.
Ukraine and the world by proxy has endured ten-months of the most awful, atrocity filled conflicts. Against all odds, the Ukrainians have halted the Russian invasion of their country and are now beating it back. Personified by Time magazine’s selection of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as this year’s Person of the Year, the Ukrainian people have demonstrated their courage and deserve our respect and more. And more has been given. The combination of Ukrainian muscle and Western matériel has proved to be a winning team. Already this year, the US has given $40B in military assistance and another $37.7B slug of money is on the table now, hopefully to be given before those Hunter Biden’s laptop wielding House Republicans can come to power and gum up the works.
These sums pale into insignificance when set against the total US defense budget of $715B for 2022. The Russian army is being destroyed for pennies on the dollar. For 5.6% of our annual defense budget, one of our top tier threats is being removed. Plus, the revelation that Russia’s defense industry is a Potemkin village generates other strategic and diplomatic wins for the US. Look at Pakistan. Countries shopping for weaponry are now more likely to buy American than that other cheaper brand. Countries now wanting to buy American will also have to tow the American line. I am looking at you Saudi Arabia. Maybe the US defense industry should give Ukraine a discount for all the great press? Not bloody likely. Finally, helping Ukraine beat Russia surely also sends a powerful signal to China that the US and its allies are strong and determined when challenged on issues of core importance. This may raise questions in the mind of Xi Jinping vis-à-vie Taiwan.
Support for Ukraine should be a no-brainer for any true American and not some political football. At least financially, our support for Ukraine offers more bang for the buck than any new bomber would. If you cannot find a way to do the right thing with your heart, then try your pocketbook.