Why Biden's Ukraine Military Adventure Will Benefit China & Fail to Subdue Russia
The House of Representatives on 10 May passed a $40 billion Ukraine military aid package by a 368-57 vote, beefing up Joe Biden's initial $33 billion request. A day earlier, the US president inked a lend-lease bill into law, which would allow the White House to streamline lethal aid to the East European state.
As the Biden administration continues to ramp up military support to Ukraine, it is only stoking the flames of the ongoing conflict, either intentionally or unintentionally, according to Patrick Basham, founding director of the Democracy Institute, a Washington and London-based politically independent research organisation.
"Most Westerners are unaware that Ukraine is the inevitable loser in this tragic conflict", Basham says "Therefore, maintaining the diplomatic fiction that Ukraine can defeat Russia only serves to lengthen the conflict, which means far more Ukrainians will die, far more infrastructure will be destroyed, and the cost of rebuilding the country will be far higher. As Russia is the inevitable victor, the sooner peace terms are negotiated and agreed between the two sides, the sooner the loss of Ukrainian life and property will cease".
The US stepped up the provision of military aid to Ukraine after the beginning of the Russian special operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine, which was launched on 24 February 2022. The US has allocated $3.8 billion in lethal aid for Kiev since then.
However, even before the conflict, Washington funnelled about $700 million to the East European state between January 2021 and February 2022. In general, "since 2014, the United States has provided more than $6.5 billion in security assistance for training and equipment", according
to the US State Department.
Last week's $150 million pledge came from the remaining $250 million in presidential drawdown authority, "which allows the president to transfer excess weapons from US arsenals without congressional approval", according
to CNBC. After the bipartisan lend-lease bill was signed into law, Biden is expecting the US Senate to quickly pass the $40 billion package.
The large new package of American military aid to Ukraine is not going to help achieve peace in that country, according to Basham. On the contrary, it "does ensure that the fighting will continue longer than it should
, as it may provide the Ukrainian government and parts of its military with the naïve belief that victory for their side is possible in this conflict", he notes.
The scholar has drawn attention to the fact that despite sustaining temporary tactical defeats, Russia is steadily achieving its military objectives. The only question outstanding is when the fighting will actually end and at what cost it will come for the world, according to him.
Cui Bono? To Whose Benefit?
While Biden's commitment to support the Ukrainian government so that it can continue to hold on to power and to hold back the Russian forces sounds like a good deal to Western ears, this strategy is fraught with security risks for the US, according to Basham. The truth of the matter is that while the US is trying to subdue Russia by raising the stakes in Ukraine, it indirectly plays into the hands of its other rival, China, argues the think tank director.
"The principal beneficiary of a Ukrainian quagmire is China", says Basham. "Their non-Western influence grows exponentially as a result of Western nations’ collectively short-sighted and unrealistic approach to the crisis in Ukraine. China is leveraging and exploiting this geopolitical opportunity with the result that America will lose ground, both in absolute and relative terms, vis-à-vis China. China’s enhanced relationship with Russia will further ensure that the balance of superpower relations in our new, bipolar world, is not weighted in America’s favour".
Meanwhile, the Western stakeholders who benefit politically and economically from the protracted conflict in Ukraine are reaching their respective goals at the expense of the US national interests
, according to the scholar.
"Western politicians can portray themselves as democracy’s defenders; the defence and weapons industry can profit off supplying Ukraine with military instruments; the radical environmentalists can advance their anti-fossil fuel agenda by claiming Western economies must end their dependence upon Russian oil and gas; and, as they control Ukraine’s economic and military capabilities, Western governments can ensure that the government in Kiev dances to their diplomatic tune", he summarises.
What's more, the Biden administration has also dragged America's NATO allies into the conflict, thus sending them "down a costly and unwinnable path that will produce negative repercussions for their own nations for a very long time", Basham warns.
"Predictably, however, most NATO nations will do what American politicians are doing: they will suspend rationality and realism in order to give Biden what he wants", he expects. "Biden is counting upon the insecurity of Western politicians and governments. The bottom-line is that, when Ukraine is finally allowed to admit she is defeated, no Western officeholder wants to be accused of 'not having done enough' to support Ukraine".
Lots of Americans Believe Biden Admin Has Wrong Priorities
Meanwhile, American taxpayers are growing sceptical about the Biden administration's Ukraine spending spree, notes the Democracy Institute's founding director, citing the think tank's latest surveys.
"The ordinary Americans we survey regularly tell us that they are less and less supportive of sending huge, new amounts of their money in aid of what appears to be, at best, a lengthy commitment of American resources with no finish line in sight", Basham says. "What is especially troubling to many Americans is that, because of their government’s profligate spending during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation is in a dire fiscal position. America’s national debt has grown so deep, and so fast, that taxpayers, burdened everyday by high inflation, realise that the money for aid to Ukraine can only come from two unsustainable sources: either it is borrowed or it is printed, that is, created out of thin air".
Today, neither approach is popular, and for understandable reasons, according to the think tank director. Furthermore, most Americans polled by the Democracy Institute want the government to fund a border wall between Mexico and the United States in the first place, should the money “have” to be spent. He notes that the same Democratic establishment which told Donald Trump that the US has no money to build the border wall, "is enthusiastically spending several times that amount of money defending the Ukrainian border, instead".
Meanwhile, "events in Ukraine, Russia, and elsewhere have not transpired as Biden predicted, to put it very politely", says Basham. US domestic supply chain problems and rising prices, when contrasted with full shelves in Moscow and a ruble gaining in strength against the US dollar, prompt more and more questions from Americans, according to him.
'Chasing an Increasingly Illusive Prize'
"For a variety of reasons, additional military assistance to Ukraine will not alter the outcome of the conflict with Russia", says Basham. "Despite that essential fact, there will be more and more political pressure applied throughout the West for respective governments, especially the Biden administration, to do even more to assist the Ukrainian military".
He expects even more misreporting of the actual military situation on the ground in Ukraine, "so that even more military aid can be supported by politicians who have been led, erroneously, to believe that Ukraine can win the war". Make no mistake, any peace plan for Ukraine and Russia goes contrary to the plans of the Biden administration, which does not even conceal that it's striving for a regime change in Russia, according to him.
"The probable push for even-more military aid for Ukraine would be the latest demonstration that the American political establishment mirrors most of their Western peers to the extent that they do not admit or acknowledge that a policy has failed, even when it clearly has done so", Basham says. "Instead, they redouble their efforts utilising the same failed policy and regulatory instruments. Even more money is subsequently spent, and even more lives are ruined, chasing an increasingly illusive prize, be it a coronavirus-free world, or a Ukrainian victory over Russia".