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Pro-Ukrainian Progressives Confused About ‘Slippery Slope’ That Leads to War

There is rare bipartisan motivation in Congress to send nearly $14 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine — especially lethal military weapons. But in the rush to help a war-torn country, some progressives are worried about where aid ends and wars begin.

“There is usually a slippery slope when these transfers of military aid happen,” said Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who has previously voiced support for military aid to Ukraine. . “There’s a way that it can be very targeted and there’s a way that it can be very indiscriminate… Who specifically is at the receiving end is very important and what specifically is being sent is also very important. .”

Congressman Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who came to the United States as a refugee from war-torn Somalia as a child, tweeted that she was concerned about the prospect of “flooding Ukraine” with billions of dollars in American weapons, calling the consequences “unpredictable” and “possibly catastrophic.”

Omar added the role of paramilitary groups in Ukraine – essentially unofficial defense forces – giving her pause. “I am in favor of providing Ukraine with the resources it needs to protect its people, I have only legitimate concerns about the size and scope,” she wrote.

Progressive Congressman Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) told The Daily Beast that, while he supports efforts to ensure Ukraine can defend itself, there is no military solution to the Ukraine crisis. “We have to get back to the table and find a diplomatic solution… Continuing to send weapons is not going to help them win,” he said.

The sentiment of the trio reflects a broader stance among progressives about military engagement as a solution to foreign conflicts. In the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion, progressive lawmakers along with some libertarian Republicans have repeatedly urged the Biden administration to focus on diplomatic solutions rather than moving forward. military options.

“Arming the Ukrainians and the subsequent easing of economic sanctions facilitated a diplomatic effort. Now, I don’t know if diplomacy will work, but we have to really try.”

– Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA)

More than three dozen members of the House of Representatives from both sides of the aisle also signed letter in February, urged Biden to get permission from Congress to use military force abroad as part of the Ukraine crisis — a move required by the Constitution but loosely enforced on conflict grounds.

Last year, the House of Representatives voted to overturn the 2002 License to Use Military Force in Iraq. But the Senate did not take similar action, and the even broader 2001 AUMF – which authorizes military force to fight any terrorist group believed to be involved in the 9/11 attacks – is still authorized. maintain.

However, Biden has pledged not to send ground troops into Ukraine, and he insists that any military presence in the region is solely to help NATO allies.

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, Congressional Radical Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and longtime rival in war Congressman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued Joint statement expressed concern that the deployment of troops, sanctions and “a range of lethal weapons” to Ukraine would only escalate tensions with Russia.

But Democrats’ political calculus on Ukraine continues to evolve as the crisis worsens and the death toll grows.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told The Daily Beast that the conflict in Ukraine is an “ongoing situation,” but said she feels “we’d best hold Russia accountable.” our economic tools,” while mentioning the need to help “provide Ukraine with the defensive weapons it needs. ”

Representative Andy Levin (D-MI), a member of the Congressional Radical Committee, told The Daily Beast that he also supports efforts to supply US weapons to Ukraine, but noted that this It is important to send weapons that will actually be used by Ukrainian forces.

“There are a lot of weapons that the Ukrainian army is not trained in… We will not give them jets that they cannot fly,” he said.

At the same time, aid to Ukraine isn’t the only military issue on progressives’ minds this week.

The delicate decision-making around the Russian invasion comes as progressive organizations have dealt a painful blow to this year’s Pentagon budget, which the House of Representatives will vote on on Wednesday. Reducing defense spending is a priority for the most liberal members of Congress – especially after President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.

“My concern is that part of our national budget goes to the Department of Defense… We need to make sure we’re funding other programs both internationally and domestically,” Warren said. Warren said.

And yet, a year-long spending bill that is expected to become law this weekend will push the Pentagon budget even higher.

Based on New York TimesHouse Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith said the Russian invasion “fundamentally changed our national security posture and what our defense posture is.”

“It makes it more complicated and more expensive,” Smith said last week.

While the progressives may have had to fork out an even larger defense budget, the crisis in Ukraine seems to have left them with little time or inclination to fight the extra money. . Failing to fund the government would force a government shutdown — and it would delay the hugely popular sources of capital for Ukraine.

Including aid to Ukraine in the same bill that would make the government sighted also added pressure on Republicans to support the measure. But it also puts progress in a corner.

“There’s obviously no flexibility to roll things back at this point,” Levin told The Daily Beast.

On Wednesday, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) said he plans to vote yes on the defense budget increase — and said he favors sending “as many weapons as possible to the people.” Ukraine”, fearing an even higher death toll in the region. But he still hopes there is a diplomatic way to solve the problem – even amid growing violence from Vladimir Putin’s forces.

“Arming the Ukrainians and economic sanctions will facilitate a diplomatic effort,” he said. “Now, I don’t know if diplomacy will work, but we have to really try.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/pro-ukraine-progressives-fret-about-slippery-slope-to-war?source=articles&via=rss Pro-Ukrainian Progressives Confused About ‘Slippery Slope’ That Leads to War

Russell Falcon

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