In Search of Big Bucks: Zelensky Zips Over to Washington
© Photo : Telegram / Zelensky OfficialPresident Volodymyr Zelensky wearing 'Ukraine or Death' patch during photo op visit to country's east.
© Photo : Telegram / Zelensky Official
Throwing good money after bad is never a sound political strategy, especially at a time when the US public is feeling the strain of an economy in crisis.
The one thing every observer of US domestic politics must concede is that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi know how to work Congress. For four decades, Biden walked the halls of the US Senate, strong-arming colleagues to line up votes for legislation, with Pelosi team-tagging in the House of Representatives. In the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi did the same thing. Now, as president and House speaker, respectively, Biden and Pelosi pulled out all the stops to get one last piece of legislation across the finish line—the passage of an additional $45 billion in assistance for Ukraine.
To avoid the potential hurdles that would have to be negotiated trying to get a Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass legislation authorizing more aid to Ukraine in the coming year, Biden and Pelosi conspired to push through a massive package in the final days of the lame duck session of Pelosi’s tenure as speaker.
© OLIVIER DOULIERYUS President Joe Biden welcomes Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 21, 2022. - Zelensky is in Washington to meet with US President Joe Biden and address Congress -- his first trip abroad since Russia invaded in February.
US President Joe Biden welcomes Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 21, 2022. - Zelensky is in Washington to meet with US President Joe Biden and address Congress -- his first trip abroad since Russia invaded in February.
© OLIVIER DOULIERY
But there was the chance that such an effort would be seen by many in Congress for what it was— a naked political maneuver designed to obviate the will of the US people who had voted to impanel a new Congress less disposed to freely dispensing treasure in support of a cause — Ukraine — which by all accounts appears to be on the ropes. Throwing good money after bad is never a sound political strategy, especially at a time when the American public is feeling the strain of an economy in crisis.
Enter, stage right, Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine and the US' most powerful propogandist when it comes to getting the US Congress to open its purse.
Previously, Ukraine’s beleaguered president was dispatched to the frontlines, where he handed out medals and received a flag signed by the “heroes of Bakhmut.” Zelensky then boarded a US Air Force plane, which whisked him off to Washington, DC where, on cue, he met with President Biden in the White House (and gave him a medal from one of the “heroes”), and addressed a joint session of Congress, handing Pelosi the autographed flag.
Nancy Pelosi alluded to the precedent of Winston Churchill as Zelensky spoke to Congress. But let there be no doubt—“Ukraine is alive and kicking” will not be carved alongside any pantheon inscribed with the words of the former British Prime Minister. Indeed, in a year’s time, no one will remember anything about Zelensky’s speech; its content was as vacuous as the cause it purported to support. Zelensky’s Washington visit was little more than empty gestures and empty words offered up as window dressing for the grift that is the more than $100 billion in aid earmarked over the course of the past year for Ukraine.
© MANDEL NGANUS House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (R) and US Vice President Kamala Harris (L) present Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky an American flag after receiving a Ukrainian national flag from him following his address to the US Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on December 21, 2022.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (R) and US Vice President Kamala Harris (L) present Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky an American flag after receiving a Ukrainian national flag from him following his address to the US Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on December 21, 2022.
© MANDEL NGAN
Lest anyone lose sight of what was actually transpiring in Washington DC during Zelensky’s visit. Ponder the following: it had nothing to do with providing Ukraine with the weapons it claims to need to successfully wage war against Russia. Nothing on Zelensky’s so-called “Christmas list” was funded by Congress—no M-1 Abrams tanks, no F-16 fighters, no long-range artillery rockets, no additional Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries.
The US government was playing to a domestic audience, which means that the perception of military assistance is more important than giving Ukraine what it believes it needs. The standard US excuses—the advanced tanks and aircraft are too difficult to maintain, that the Ukrainian soldier is better off with old Soviet-era weaponry than the modern western equivalent—is mooted by the fact that the current formula guiding military assistance has failed. Russia has stabilized the situation on the battlefield and is preparing to seize the initiative, a reality that obviates the tens of billions of dollars of military assistance that has been dispatched to Ukraine. The current package, except for a single Patriot missile battery, is simply more of the same, virtually guaranteeing that Ukraine will continue to lose this conflict going forward.
This, of course, appears to be an outcome the US is willing to accept. US policy appears to be geared toward the concept of, to paraphrase US Senator Lyndsey Graham, letting Ukraine fight to the last Ukrainian, so long as Russia pays a heavy price in the process. This is known to Ukraine, and yet Zelensky still came to Washington, DC.
© AP Photo / Evgeniy MaloletkaFILE - Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer
FILE - Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer
© AP Photo / Evgeniy Maloletka
That a Ukrainian leader would debase himself to the point of so eagerly serving as a political puppet on the US domestic political scene speaks volumes about the reality of how far Ukraine has fallen in the past year. The tragedy is that, far from helping Ukraine prevail in its war with Russia, the US aid will only guarantee the further destruction of the Ukrainian nation and its people.