Money and Competition: An Argument Against US Monetary Support of Ukraine

President Biden’s recent appeal to Congress on a multibillion dollar package for Ukraine has brought into question the efficacy of how Washington engages in its monetary distribution. Indeed, the aid package will satisfy defense industry pundits, but will it really surmount to objectionable outcomes Washington hopes to achieve in a broader great power competition? To be sure, US support has helped Ukraine repel Russian troops, but the emphasis should be placed on allies in Western Europe to prop up the war effort. Washington must leverage the stark incentives of countries that covet regional stability to foster the monetary support Ukraine desperately needs. It must not be the sole responsibility of Washington to underpin funding to Ukraine given the strategic incentives to place capital elsewhere.

There are glaring motivations behind diverting aid packages to other areas. If Washington hopes to engage with Beijing in a broader ideological competition between free-market capitalism and state-led capitalism then resources must be allocated to places that display the strengths of its system. There are current problems such as inflation, supply-chain shortages, and a border crisis that can be combated with a fraction of the $40 billion dollars dedicated to Ukraine. A solution to these problems will not only directly benefit the American people, but will also elucidate to countries around the globe that free-market capitalism with democratic values is still the preeminent system of governance. The Biden administration’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance speaks to the revitalization of democracies and alliance systems as authoritarianism is on the rise. This revitalization must begin domestically before we engage in monetary support abroad. Washington’s inability to engage in monetary support domestically regularly empowers sustained disinformation campaigns across media that aim to divide the American people. Instead, a shift in monetary distribution will unequivocally strengthen democracy and be an effective component in the impending ideological struggle of the 21st century.

A second motivation against the aid package for Ukraine concerns our partners in Western Europe. A withdrawal of US monetary support to Eastern Europe can generate a vacuum that will impel our allies to support Ukraine given the incentives to regain regional stability. If the US pushes from the back rather than the front then this will free up Washington’s arm when it comes to foreign policy. The diversion of monetary support to Ukraine can allow Washington to engage in policy like nuclear modernization or climate change efforts that will surely bolster alliance systems in a more impactful way than sending tactical unmanned aerial systems to Ukraine. In particular, nuclear modernization seems the most fruitful option at the moment due to concerning events in this arena such as Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea’s continued weapon testing, Russia’s escalate to de-escalate strategy, and China’s rapid advancement of its nuclear program. Currently, nuclear spending makes up roughly 6% of the defense budget. In addition, the US nuclear system is severely outdated as there has not been a nuclear warhead designed or built since the end of the Cold War. Clearly, nuclear modernization is a needed component of US and its allies security interests. The allocation of capital to areas like nuclear modernization will not only better serve US interests, but also shore up Washington’s system of alliances across the globe in ways that funneling monetary support to Ukraine doesn’t achieve on a broader scale.

The last, and most important, motivation concerns the threat posed by the revisionist actor in China. To be sure, China is the only country that can maintain the capabilities to challenge the open international system on various fronts. China’s assertiveness is increasingly concerning to the US-Led international order and the current Ukraine crisis is acting as a complication to Washington’s great pivot towards Asia. Continued dedication to a destabilizing Russia will drain resources from a far more sinister threat in China. Although it has been argued that the US can afford to deal with the threats of Russia and China concurrently, an alleviation of responsibility from the threat posed by Moscow would allow Washington to fully pivot to Beijing. This relief from the European theater must come from allies such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Indeed, as stated by the Biden administration, democracies across the globe, including our own, are increasingly under siege and this threat must compel our allies to find the will to repel revisionist actors.

Given the strategic incentives to divert aid to other domains, it can be deduced that there are other significant political incentives to engage in Ukrainian support monetarily. However, this claim is unsubstantiated and therefore a diversion of monetary distribution can still be hoped for. In sum, it can be maintained that there remain strategic incentives to allocate resources to other areas that will better serve US interests than fully directing capital to a war that can be supplied in more beneficial and strategic ways.

[Image Credit: The White House]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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