Trump impeachment witness calls for 'Lend-Lease' to Ukraine

Retired Army lieutenant colonel Alexander Vindman, a former member of the NSC staff and "star" impeachment witness against President Donald Trump, is calling on the United States to institute a "Lend-Lease" program to help Ukraine defeat Russia.  This is the same Alexander Vindman who blames Trump for Russia's invasion of Ukraine even though Russian aggression against that country occurred during the Obama administration in 2014 and the Biden administration in 2022.  There was no Russian aggression during Donald Trump's presidency.

Vindman is just the latest member of the foreign policy establishment to urge the United States to effectively become a belligerent in the current Russia-Ukraine War.  His "Lend-Lease" proposal appears on the Foreign Affairs website, co-authored by Dominic Cruz Bustillos, a research associate at the Lawfare Institute.  He joins Senator Lindsey Graham (who called for Putin's assassination), Senator Roger Wicker (who advocates a no-fly zone over Ukraine), and other American and European observers (and an increasingly jingoistic media) who insist that the United States and its allies "must" stop Putin, or we will face another "Munich" and the loss of "dominoes" in Europe.

The original Lend-Lease program was President Franklin Roosevelt's method of supplying military aid and hardware to Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China in the lead-up to the Second World War.  Vindman misstates history by calling the Soviet Union a "bulwark in the fight against fascism" in World War II, perhaps forgetting that it was the Soviet Union that joined with Hitler in starting the European phase of the war.  Vindman's "bulwark against fascism" annexed the Baltic States and eastern Poland as part of Stalin's deal with Hitler, the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

Vindman calls Russia the new "fascist threat" and writes that Ukraine is "leading the charge to defend Europe — a fight that the world cannot afford to let the Ukrainians lose."  Vindman's Lend-Lease program, he explains, "would expedite the transfer of much-needed lethal aid and equipment to Ukrainian defenders."  Vindman appears to concede that establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine "may be too provocative," so instead, he advocates supplying Ukraine "with the tools it needs to control the skies itself," including the wherewithal to "strike Russian warehouses or staging areas holding aircraft, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles beyond Ukraine's borders."  In other words, Vindman is advocating that the United States and its European allies provide the weapon systems that would enable Ukrainian forces to strike targets within Russia.

Lend-Lease is necessary, he writes, because Ukraine is waging "an existential fight for democracy."  But if this truly is an "existential fight for democracy," why shy away from a no-fly zone?  Why not advise the president to ask Congress to declare war on Russia?  That is the "logic" of Vindman's position.  Instead, Vindman advocates winning this existential war on the cheap.  Lend-Lease to Ukraine, he writes, will make less likely the emergence of a NATO-Russian war.

Vindman applauds "the monumental surge in transatlantic unity" and "the renewed interest from Finland and Sweden in NATO membership," as if the series of NATO expansions since 1999, which pushed the alliance closer and closer to Russia's borders, had nothing to do with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Of course, if Vindman is wrong, Lend-Lease will be a preliminary step to America's full belligerency in another European war, just as it was in the lead-up to U.S. involvement in World War II (and World War I, where we provided assistance to Britain and France before entering the conflict as a full belligerent).  Vindman sounds like one of those European statesmen and military leaders on the eve of the First World War — described so memorably by Barbara Tuchman in The Guns of August — who in their desire to mobilize on behalf of allies engaged in a regional war in the Balkans set in motion events that led to what George Kennan rightly called the "seminal catastrophe" of the 20th century.

Image: Mykola Lazarenko, The Presidential Administration of Ukraine.


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