Yesterday evening somebody, a young Ukrainian man, said to me, “are you American?”. It was a fair question, I suppose; one of the many flag patches that adorn my jacket is a US flag. I replied “no; I’m British.” The response was “oh, thank God for that; the Americans are stupid.”. I was pretty horrified by this, not least because my American friend was standing next to me at the time and I left her to remonstrate with these idle fools and their lazy ideas and prejudices. But the whole incident left me rather disgusted.
I don’t think that any member of the international community who is working here, the vast majority of us voluntarily, to assist the Ukrainian people and their cause in resisting Russian aggression should be vilified on the basis of our nationality. It is not just a matter that the United States is one of the United Kingdom’s principal allies and that we routinely vote in tandem a the United Nations Security Council and cooperate intimately in all sorts of other ways relating to foreign and defence policy and similar such things. It is that the United States has been doing an extraordinary amount to help the people of Ukraine. And it’s not just the legion of volunteers here who are US citizens, serving in both civilian and military roles - saints to the very last, I might add, many of them risking their lives in front line positions. I recall a number of US members of the International Legion, the foreigners’ branch of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, having served extended tours of duty on the front and having returned with the most horrendous stories.
It is also a matter of US taxpayers’ financial contributions to this war. Ukraine’s GDP is something in the order of US$130 billion a year and Congressional appropriations towards Ukraine, to support her economy, her military endeavours and her currency, are in the region of US65 billion, and then you add on military training, provision of military equipment and supplies and the figure goes even higher. On any account, the United States Government is subsidising Ukraine’s wartime economy on a massive scale and without those subsidies Ukraine would simply collapse. The war would be over and Russia would be victorious. Those funds are coming from the pockets of US taxpayers. Ukrainians must understand this. The money that is being pumped in relentless quantities to keep the Ukrainian economy on life support is coming directly out of the pockets of US taxpayers.
At the current time there is a debate within US Congress, the federal legislative system that forms part of the US constitutional structure and has done so since 1791, about the appropriate extent of continued Congressional “appropriations” (i.e. earmarking taxpayer funds for Ukrainian financial support). There are those in Congress who are of the view either that the United States is spending too much money on Ukraine; or that the money she is spending is not being spent well enough; or a mixture of the two views. This is a debate that has divided the country on party political lines, to an extent; although the issue is rather more complex than that because there are different elements of the US Republican Party with differing views on this. It is perceived that Donald J. Trump, sometime President of the United States and possibly the next President of the United States (although he does have rather a number of legal complications), is interested in pruning back the Ukrainian support budget.
Recently there have been rumours going around Ukraine that the current US Government administration of Joe Biden has been placing financial and diplomatic pressure upon Ukrainian President Zelenskiy to settle the war on terms with Russian President Vladimir Putin, although personally I don’t believe a word of it. These assertions have not been reported in the mainstream media - they seem to have been spread solely in social media and “open source” websites to which anyone can contribute any opinion they want, no matter how ill-conceived - and nobody I know has suggested to me that the United States Government has any such intention. The international tide of support, including in the United States but also in Europe, remains very much in favour of wholehearted support for Ukraine.
I am not a US citizen and I take the view that it is not proper for me to comment upon US elections or internal US politics. I can’t vote in US elections and therefore it really doesn’t matter what I think and I should stay out of the US electoral process. I urge Ukrainians of all stripes to adopt the same approach. Americans must have their political debates within their own constitutional system and they must have those debates with one-another. Americans are certainly not stupid when it comes to Ukraine and they are no more or less stupid than any other people. They may have a different perspective on certain issues compared to Europeans; but they are Europe’s natural allies in propagating the values of democracy, liberty and rule of law that have brought peace, success and harmony to Europe. It was with steadfast American support in the twentieth century’s two World Wars that tyranny was ultimately defeated and it will be with the same steadfast American support that Russia will ultimately be defeated in this the third World War that we are now fighting against a reignited form of neo-totalitarian tyranny threatening Europe from the East.
Therefore I urge all my friends and colleagues, both foreigners and Ukrainians, with an interest in Ukraine’s future to express appreciation and gratitude to the American people for their massive contributions in both finance and in manpower and not to belittle or begrudge the colossal efforts the American people have made and are continuing to make. Donald Trump is an American bogeyman of a kind to some Americans but whatever one thinks of him, his fate must be decided by the American institutions and he is not representative of all Americans: of that we can be certain. I implore my Ukrainian friends and colleagues to express collective appreciation and admiration for the contribution of the United States of America to this, the just war. The USA may have had some darker moments in her history of foreign relations; but this, surely, is one of her moments of glory.