William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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UKRAINE – THE SHADOW OVER EVERYTHING

Even when it's not in the daily news, Ukraine is there, one of the few situations that has the potential to spin out of control and involve us in a major war.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but the Western nations have decided to defend the country against the brutal Russian invasion.  Why?  Because of the lessons learned in the 20th century, that aggression by a major power, if unchecked, leads to more aggression and wider conflict.  Some don't buy the comparison with the 1930s, but I agree with the growing bipartisan consensus that, in the basics, it applies.  Not too many Americans care much about Ukraine's borders, but they care about containing the new version of imperial Russia. 

And yet, one yearns for a clear military strategy and a presidential address from the Oval Office that lays out our goals.  Are we merely going to supply Ukraine with enough weapons to keep its conflict with Russia going, or will we go all out and supply all that is needed, even at painful financial cost, to achieve victory?  I suspect most Americans dread the possibility of a long war that goes nowhere and ends in a question mark.  Been there, done that.

But even at the level of our contribution today, there are problems because our own stockpiles are diminished, thanks to misguided policies.  From Fox: 

Despite President Biden’s promise to send 31 Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday, it could take months for the artillery to arrive, according to reports.

The New York Post reported that Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh confirmed that the U.S. does not have enough M1 Abrams tanks in its stockpile to send over to Ukraine at this time.

If the tanks were in the Pentagon’s possession, it would take less than a week to get the tanks boxed and shipped. But when using the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI, program, it could take months or years because the government goes through procurement to identify and hire contractors to build the weapons.

Biden announced the weapons approval on Wednesday, just hours after German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz said Ukraine would also get Leopard 2 tanks from Berlin as Russia plans for a major offensive.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin joined Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who described the tanks as the "most capable tanks in the world," which will enhance Ukraine’s ability on the battlefield.

"This is about freedom, freedom for Ukraine, freedom everywhere," President Biden said.
The decision to send tanks came after weeks of stalled and frustrated negotiations with Germany, which senior defense officials described as the "product of good diplomatic conversations."

COMMENT:  Not very encouraging.  Douglas MacArthur once remarked that all military disasters begin with two words:  too late.  He was correct.

January 26, 2023