Why the war in Ukraine is still worth fighting

As the war in Ukraine surpassed its one year anniversary on Feb. 24, debate over the United States’ involvement has been reignited. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia promised, “Not another penny will go to Ukraine” if Republicans take control of Congress.

This sentiment is in stark contrast to President Joe Biden’s generous aid packages, totaling $76.4 billion as of Jan. 15. Americans are clearly divided on the conflict over Ukraine, and what America’s role should be going forward.

To be clear, Ukraine absolutely relies on aid from the United States and other countries for its continued survival. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has emphasized this fact with repeated requests for military equipment, training and humanitarian aid. It’s crucial to realize that stopping all aid to Ukraine will result in an inevitable Russian victory, and Ukraine’s success thus far has been contingent on foreign aid combined with domestic sacrifice. Stopping aid to Ukraine is congruent with letting Russia win the war, and this factor must be considered in any political decisions going forward.

That said, this aid is certainly not cheap, or without cost to America and its citizens. In the midst of a tumultuous economy plagued by inflation, the question of “can we really afford to help Ukraine?” naturally comes to mind. Many Americans have little to no personal connection to Ukraine, as Ukrainians make up only .3 percent of the population, according to the 2021 census. Some Americans wonder why our government should send billions of dollars to an unfamiliar foreign country while domestic economic problems plague the country. However, this is an uninformed opinion that doesn’t account for multiple economic and political factors.

First, America’s current economy is far stronger than many think. Despite rising inflation, America has had “the two strongest years of job growth on record. And, in December, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in the last 50 years. Unemployment is near record lows for Black and Hispanic Americans, and the unemployment rate for people with disabilities has never been lower in our country’s history,” said president Joe Biden in an official statement from the White House released Jan. 6.

Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimated the US economy was actually steadily growing as of Oct. 2022, along with personal income. It’s clear the war in Ukraine has had relatively minor economic effects in the United States, and has certainly not halted growth. However, it’s important to realize this war is not cheap. Billions of dollars are being spent to help Ukraine, which is no doubt a significant cost. However, this money is not being wasted, and the aid going to Ukraine is actually a major investment in global stability, peace and democracy.

Zelensky has echoed this sentiment, telling Congress, “Your money isn’t charity, it’s an investment.” So, what exactly are we investing in, and what benefits can we expect?

First, an investment into Ukraine is an investment into America’s public image and the strength of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a strictly defensive alliance intended to maintain peace within Europe. This war has unified and strengthened NATO’s image and perception globally, largely because Europe and the United States have made significant personal sacrifices to help Ukraine maintain its sovereignty. If the United States turns its back on Ukraine, a close democratic ally, it would send a disastrous message of weakness to other allied countries, subsequently weakening our reliability as a nation. Furthermore, because of the invasion Sweden and Finland have applied to join NATO, making this war a strong unifier for democratic nations.

Second, the war in Ukraine has certainly halted further Russian expansion westward. Russia’s military resources have been significantly drained. If America didn’t provide the extensive support and if Russia did take Ukraine, what would have stopped them from taking Sweden or Finland? The extensive aid that has been provided to Ukraine has potentially stopped a larger, more devastating war.

The war in Ukraine is a conflict with two objective sides: democracy and tyranny. For many Americans, it may be frustrating to spend billions of dollars in aid towards a foreign country that was relatively unknown to the average American before this conflict. However, the financial investment made towards Ukraine has ultimately provided increased global security and unity and prevented a potentially more devastating conflict.