Anti-War Sentiments Emerging in U.S. Congress
From the beginning of the Biden administration’s commitment to participate in the proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, both parties in Congress have stuck to the narrative handed down to them by the “Military Industrial Complex”: Vladimir Putin’s actions were unprovoked and Ukraine is the test case for preserving democracy, therefore, the cost is worth it. The corollary, increasingly voiced, is that if Russia isn’t stopped, Europe will be overrun, and the Chinese will move militarily against Taiwan. Few challenged this narrative, as both parties remained largely loyal to the goal of sustaining the Unipolar Order under U.S. hegemony. In the population generally, polls showed broad support for Biden’s policy.
Yet, recently, two things have changed. First, the cost to the taxpayer keeps climbing, with the amount committed now topping $110 billion. Secondly, the failure to accomplish the stated objective of driving Russian forces out in the counter-offensive, and the potential for an escalation up to the prospect of a nuclear confrontation, have raised doubts. A CNN opinion poll in early August found a majority now oppose any further funding by a 55% to 45% margin, with 71% of Republican voters opposed. In addition, support for Joe Biden is plummeting, with 65% disapproving of the direction of the country.
As a result, more Republicans are speaking out. While a resolution introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz, the “Ukraine Fatigue Resolution”, had only 10 cosponsors last February, a vote in July 2023 for an amendment to cut the defense budget, by cutting off all further aid to Ukraine, was supported by 70 House Republicans. It was defeated, but the result was seen as a “worrying sign” by defenders of the proxy war.
Their concern is growing, as Republicans are placing additional pressure on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to take a stand against further funding. Though McCarthy has yet to openly join his party’s resistors, he has now begun to repeat questions they are asking, such as “Where’s the accountability for the spending?” and “What is the plan for victory?” His refusal to allow Ukraine’s President Zelensky to address a joint session of Congress last week is seen as an augur of things to come.
That said, the opposition is not really against war, but just against this one, as it would be better to “get tough on China”. This was answered by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who remains fully committed to the proxy war. After meeting with Zelensky, McConnell tweeted, “American support for Ukraine is not charity. It’s in our own direct interests — not least because degrading Russia helps to deter China.”
As of now, Republicans have held up passage of the latest defense spending bill, which contains authorization for $24+ billion for Ukraine. In explaining why he opposes further aid to Ukraine, Senator Rand Paul was blunt: the Ukrainian government has “cancelled elections…They banned political parties, they’ve invaded churches, they’ve arrested priests, so no, it isn’t a democracy, it’s a corrupt regime.”