The current Republican-led effort to abandon Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression runs counter not only to the national security interests of the United States, but also to the fundamental character of the American soul.
The American people in their heart-of-hearts, recognize this.
My parents live in Bismarck, North Dakota. Even if you are American, without family living there, it is very unlikely that you have ever visited Bismarck. The state of North Dakota – proudly home to a town that is the geographic center of North America – is in many ways as far from the war in Europe as you can get. While the people of North Dakota are overwhelmingly kind and polite, it is not the kind of place where you usually see advocacy efforts for conflicts in which American soldiers are not involved.
Rarely, if ever, have events so far from American shores (or the Heartland) struck a chord so deeply and so publicly – as the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
I visited Bismarck in the summer of 2022 for a family reunion after having spent the previous three months as a humanitarian volunteer in Ukraine. There, in the center of America, I saw Ukrainian flags on homes, shop windows, and yards. The local chapter of the Knights of Columbus had been fundraising to support Ukrainian refugees. A store downtown in the state capitol called “Little Odesa” had also been fundraising through “Borscht soup night.”
On a road trip prior to leaving for Ukraine, I had seen similar displays of active support in small southern towns across Virginia.
Because nations, like individual people, are often confronted with a test of character which forces the question – “Am I really who I tell myself that I am?”
The national character of the United States is currently at such an inflection point. On Wednesday, December 6, 2023, Republicans voted against aid to Ukraine, and the term “Ukraine fatigue” is now commonly heard.
In Ukraine, I met many wounded soldiers who expressed a desire to recover and return to their units. Such commitment and courage is astonishing and commendable, but its essence is not unusual. These soldiers share the same spirit as American service members, who after being wounded, “fight” to return to the fight. There is a common spirit, and it is not fatigue. For my own part, I do not believe that the American people have “fatigued” in the fight for self-determination and liberty.
Make no mistake – the safety of the United States is directly tied to Vladimir Putin suffering a defeat in Ukraine. It is difficult to believe that Republican opposition to Ukraine aid is motivated by a serious foreign policy and national security platform (or even in line with their constituents wants).
Even if it were, the narrative that the United States must choose between its own border security and defending Ukrainian sovereignty is a lie. The United States is capable of securing its own border and properly reforming its immigration and asylum system, without surrendering a democratic partner to the imperial aims of a Russian dictator. Regardless, national security concerns are not what motivate people in the American Midwest and South to rally in support of a people which they have never met.
That kind of motivation comes from recognition of the fundamental truth, that to be who we believe ourselves to be, the United States must not abandon a friend in their fight for freedom against an unprovoked aggressor. And in that, I hope the American people will never experience “fatigue.”
(To learn how to reach out to your elected representative to express your support for the Ukrainian people, click here.)