Throughout my 10-year flying career in the United States Ai...NEXT
A-10s are the right thing for Ukraine, as we've written on t...
Thomas LeeMay 19, 2022 (0)
I have done it; spent too little money on a used car and ended up with a maintenance nightmare that ultimately cost me far more than a newer and better car would have. Maybe it is human nature, but it is something we must fight. Rand Paul just vetoed $40 Billion of aid to Ukraine; the aid would have included all manner of things, from help with resettlement costs to straight military hardware, big and small. But Dr. Paul, in an almost amazing lack of foresight, or perhaps just to pander to the less educated members of his constituency, vetoed the bill. Here is why that was a wrong move: for one, unless Putin is stopped now, he will be a problem forever. He is even threatening to use nuclear weapons, which is beyond the pale. Money spent now to help others stop him will help us in the long run, not to mention all the other reasons.
The other thing nobody is paying attention to is that the money is being spent on American produced materiel, for the most part: it actually benefits our economy to put the money into private circulation. The Ukrainians are getting the same thing GI Joe gets, and some other things he doesn't, but with the exception of money spent for resettlement purposes, basically we are sending stocks of military equipment that otherwise would have lain in a warehouse until needed…and since we are currently not involved in any fruitless and extensive wars, this forty billion spent, on things purchased already, and therefore what economists refer to as “sunk costs,” allows us to appropriate more money from our budget for similar, but likely upgraded, and certainly more expensive, materiel. And that benefits us, and the economy Rand Paul, libertarian (although I might call him something else), has appointed himself the guardian of.
Perhaps Dr. Paul – named after Ayn Rand, I think – should recall what event truly pulled the US from the Depression. War, once it is going, and the initial shocks have worn off, generally benefits the US economy. After all, the day before LBJ made his great commitment to Vietnam, the (Texas based…hmmmm) Bell Helicopters produced one Huey (UH-1 Iroquois) helicopter, the image of which is practically identified with Vietnam in the popular collective conscious, per day. The day after he made the commitment of regular ground troops, the production jumped to ten. Where was LBJ from again?
The economic argument is really for the short sighted, though, people who believe that saving an American child is somehow more valuable than saving a Ukrainian child. Quickly, I think it worth mentioning the late, great Kurt Vonnegut. He believed we are born into artificial associations that allow us the illusion of belonging, when in fact our true family is the human race. He called them “granfalloons,” and used as an example the indomitable race of Midwestern boosters, Hoosiers: people who happen to be from Indiana, like he himself. He thought it sublimely ridiculous that an accident of birth determines one's feelings about the value of others. Birth is a product of accident and coincidence; it does not make you who you are.
I could digress in the granfalloon of America, but I do love it, and am proud of it, e ven while recognizing that statistically, being an American is pretty rare; you have about a one of twenty chance of being born here, and simply having won or lost that lottery, depending on your feelings, is nothing to be proud of Rather, it's what you do with it.
And we need to realize that if we want to prevent greater loss of life, and not have to stop Putin later and closer to the home of our granfalloon, we need to do the right thing by the Ukrainians and do so now.
Yesterday a group of American lawmakers, safely far from the front, met with President Zelenskyy. Hopefully they will return and convince Dr. Paul of the shortsightedness of his position. You don't have to be an economist to realize that dealing with a problem early before it gets bad is usually a wise and economical thing to do. I let my brake pads squeak; soon enough I need rotors. You let Hitler have the Sudetenland, soon enough he has all of Czechoslovakia. And if we allow Putin to regroup, and don't give the Ukrainians (and the Americans, Brits, Georgians, Israelis and one South African, I think, fighting along who them) what they need to put an end to his territorial ambitions, we may be fighting him with American armored divisions in the Fulda Gap.
I am glad we sent the M777 howitzers; it is understood that they are making a real difference in the war. Artillery is called the “king of battle” for a reason. And combined with armor, effective tactical airpower (A-10s! A-10s!) and well directed and commanded infantry, the combination is beyond lethal: it is a foreshadowing of Ragnarok, of Gotterdammerung. It is fearsome, and it is most effective against disorganized and massed forces, like the Russians are right now. An armored column, hard against a river crossing, suddenly facing a well-directed barrage from big howitzers like those, then accurate tac air, either from A-10s or the like or attack helicopters, followed by a combined arms assault of armor followed by infantry…well, no more BMP's (Russian armored personnel carriers); no more T-72's, T-82's or the latest of the main battle tanks: nothing would withstand that.
But you can't do it without the kit you need. Sure, the Ukrainians have had success using “Panzerfausts” – shoulder-mounted antitank rockets. They have had success using the oddly named Frogfoots (or Frogfeet? Do frogs even HAVE feet?). They have their own, Soviet designed and Soviet produced cannons. And they have received some token antitank rockets…but those are often one-time things. Certainly our old M-72 LAWs were one shot deals…the more modern ones, and recoilless rifles – “bazookas” – can be reloaded. But all of that stuff is stopgap in a modern war. American warfighting doctrine was designed to stop the Soviets. The Russian army may have changed its spots, but not its stars, and certainly not its tactics; no one on earth is set up to equip a surrogate army to destroy the direct descendants of our cold war enemies like we are. We could nip this bit of flowering hell in the bud…but Dr. Paul would rather conserve an amount of money equal to a year's budget for a large city.
I guess he is not an opthamologist, because this is myopia on a mythological level.
So, Dr. Paul: if we send our OLD bombs to Ukraine, we can buy NEW bombs. And if we stop Mr. Putin in his tracks now, we won't have to stop him outside of Providence, Rhode Island, or off the coast of Montauk. We are in fact being given a boon by having the opportunity presented to us: we have the chance to do good and do well. I argue that getting the munitions to the Ukrainians will improve our economy, help our dying heavy industry, which made America the powerhouse it was, and to a degree still is…but you have to think not about reelection, or saving a few bucks now: you have to think about history, and the giant forces that influence it. And despite how massive these forces truly are, there are places where less force need be exerted on them to effect a change than at other times. We are at such a critical juncture. Don't mess it up by being a Scrooge.
The writer is a former military man, now researching and writing about the Ukrainian Conflict. Questions can be sent directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the discussion.