The narrative coming out of the White House as recently as last Tuesday continues to solely cast blame upon Congressional Republicans – especially Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA), for not passing a $60 billion supplemental budget to continue funding the Ukraine war.

There is some truth to the narrative. However, it conveniently leaves out probably the most significant point - President Joe Biden does not have a plan to win the war, other than to simply to keep arming Ukraine to defend itself. The US Army’s General George Patton gave his opinion on that course of action: “Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.” 

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Biden’s avowed strategy to “stand for liberty and freedom today, tomorrow, and for as long as it takes” has become a toxic recipe for just another “forever war.” A war that Speaker Johnson compared to a recent conflict, “We need to know that Ukraine would not be another Afghanistan.”

When Biden entered the White House, his stated goal was “ending the forever wars that had consumed America for two decades and instead focusing on domestic priorities.” The war in Ukraine enters its third year in February; the southern US border remains unsecured as illegal migrants and fentanyl enter the country unabated.

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The 70-year-old, a key figure of the Nobel Prize-winning Memorial group, is the latest target of Kremlin repression, which has intensified since the offensive in Ukraine.

On the surface, the House Speaker appears to be holding the President to his word. But this is Washington – and Ukraine has become political leverage for both Democrats and Republicans to play against one another as they pursue partisan agendas. The 2024 Presidential Election only exacerbates the crisis.

There is common ground though. The President and House Speaker are on the same page regarding no more forever wars.

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There are two solutions – give Ukraine the weapons and ammunition they need to win the war or abandon the effort. The latter is not an option – the US would lose all credibility, putting Europe in peril and their leadership in NATO at risk.

A $60 billion blank check would equate to what then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said concerning the passage of Obama Care in 2010, “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it.” Republicans will not let that happen – they are demanding to see a plan, a strategy to win, the weapons and ammunition required, and an end state for Ukraine. The President does not have one.

But holding Ukraine funding hostage to border security and support to Israel in their war against Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, is no better. Bundling the three is unmanageable. The attack on the US Tower 22 base in Jordan over the weekend aggravates the situation.

Both sides are derelict in their duties. While they continue their political jockeying – Ukrainian civilians are being killed in Russian missile and drone attacks, while Ukrainian soldiers in defensive positions fight off relentless ‘meat assaults’ in Avdiivka, wondering if they will have enough ammunition to fend off the next wave.

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Killing more Russians will not win the war. Over 383,180 have reportedly been eliminated to date, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is prepared to conscript and send more. Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces General Valerii Zaluzhny acknowledged that reality in November: “That was my mistake. In any other country such casualties would have stopped the war.”

Meanwhile, as Washington struggles to come up with a solution, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his generals are “doggedly forging ahead and boldly implementing new military tactics” throughout the depth of the battlespace – to include Russia.

In the absence of U.S. funding, Zelensky returned to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and travelled to European capitals to solicit additional support to stay in the fight. He came away with a few major wins – Ukraine entered into a security co-operation agreement with the United Kingdom, secured $8.5 billion in military aid for 2024 from Germany, secured a pledge from Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to “make his country the ‘most reliable’ backer of Ukraine,” while France committed to deliver an additional 40 long-range SCALP-EG missiles and, in Paris last week, stood-up an “artillery coalition” of 23 nations to address Ukraine’s ammunition shortfall.

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And now the European Union is set to vote on a €50 billion assistance package for Ukraine after advising Hungary it would evoke Article 7 – suspending the right to vote on EU decisions – should Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán continue to block the vote.  

Europe has stepped up, so where is the American plan?

Unfortunately, it is helplessly linked to a failing bipartisan southern border deal that Speaker Johnson announced was “dead on arrival” last Friday.

It is not the primary responsibility of Congress to present military plans to the White House. That responsibility is on the President of the United States, as the Commander-in-Chief, and his National Security team. The responsibility of Congress is to fund the plan when it is submitted.

Three powerful Republicans penned a plan in November 2023 entitled, “Proposed Plan for Victory in Ukraine.” The proposal was submitted by Michael McCaul (R-TX), Mike Rogers (R-AL), and Mike Turner (R-OH), Chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee, and the House Permanent Selection Committee on Intelligence respectively.

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The proposal calls for the President to “present a credible plan for victory and arm Ukraine with the weapons it needs to win as soon as possible.” They have even identified “the longest-range variant of ATACMS, F-16s and sufficient quantities of cluster munitions, artillery, air defenses, and armor to make a difference on the battlefield” as part of the solution. 

It is not an unreasonable request.  Defensive weapons cannot win wars – and Ukraine lacks the offensive capabilities right now needed to decisively expel Russian forces from the Donbas and Crimean Peninsula.

Washington urgently needs a commonsense compromise. Speaker Johnson must decouple southern border security from Ukraine funding and President Biden must present a plan to Congress on Ukraine and agree to work with Republicans on a comprehensive immigration plan that includes border security. Americans and Ukrainians deserve far better leadership from Washington.

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The President needs to embrace and build off the Republican proposal, assemble his Flag Officers – active and retired (Keane, Petraeus, Stavridis, McCaffrey, Hodges, Hertling, and H. R. McMaster, to name but a few), then put together a plan the White House, Congress and American people can support. As with any endeavour - it starts with a plan.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

Copyright 2023. Jonathan E. Sweet and Mark C. Toth. All rights reserved. 

Col. (Ret.) Jonathan Sweet served 30 years as a military intelligence officer.

Mark Toth writes on national security and foreign policy. 

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Comments (9)

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John
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@Hammer, Well thought out and succinctly worded comment! 

EU must do the same with Orban and FICO. Hopefully at their next meeting trigger Section 7.3 (easiest) or perhaps 7.1 effectively suspending Hungary's right to vote on EU decisions.

Particularly during this period of war in the EU given Orban's compromising ties to a self declared external enemy (Russia) of a number EU members (Poland, Estonia, Germany...probably more). Maybe suspend Hungary's vote even longer (and all EU net transfer payments to Hungary), given Orban's and historic distain for a significant number of core EU rules. It's time for some political hardball in the EU even if they need to impose new rules as 'temporary war measures'. No more Orban concessions, no opportunities afforded for Orban / FICO delays in aid to Ukraine.

NATO must do the same to sideline its 2 members that do 'putins' bidding. 

I would be interested on your thoughts as to how MAGA stacked SCOTUS can be reigned in the USA should they condone criminal Trump candidacy in Colorado and Maine which banned him due to his involvement in the 2020 insurrection.

I'm also interested to learn what plausible means the US government has available to reign in MRGA plants in the House and Senate working in lock step with Putin. Its seems they presently have the power to perpetually discard House Speakers causing delays that essentially could bring the USA to a standstill?

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LM
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Trump only knows winning. He hates to lose. He's on record over the Afghanistan debacle how Joe botched things. He doesn't give 2 shits what Putin thinks. He'll tell his Generals what end he wants and let them manage the conflict. He gave the Palestinians an opportunity to have a country. They turned it down. He'll bring deterrence through strength. Biden wants to ride the center line. He always has. Before he started becoming senile he was an idiot. Now he's impaired. The Obama B Team is calling the shots. Obama was a foreign policy nightmare.

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John
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Well thought out and succinctly worded comment! 



EU must do the same with Orban and FICO. Hopefully at their next meeting trigger Section 7.3 (easiest) or perhaps 7.1 effectively suspending Hungary's right to vote on EU decisions. Particularly during this period of war in the EU given Orban's compromising ties to a self declared external enemy (Russia) of a number EU members (Poland, Estonia, Germany...probably more). Maybe suspend Hungary's vote even longer (and all EU net transfer payments to Hungary), given Orban's and historic distain for a significant number of core EU rules. It's time for some political hardball in the EU even if they need to impose new rules as 'temporary war measures'. No more Orban concessions, no opportunities afforded for Orban / FICO delays in aid to Ukraine. NATO must do the same to sideline its 2 members that do 'putins' bidding.



I would be interested on commenters thoughts as to how MAGA stacked SCOTUS can be reigned in the USA should they condone criminal Trump candidacy in Colorado and Maine which banned him due to his involvement in the 2020 insurrection.

I'm also interested to learn what plausible means the US government has available to reign in MRGA plants in the House and Senate working in lock step with Putin. Its seems they presently have the power to perpetually discard House Speakers causing delays that essentially could bring the USA to a standstill?

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Dave B
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There is no plan for Ukraine to win because Ukraine winning is not the current goal. The goal has been to use the war to deplete russia of ammunition so that they're less of a threat to NATO. It was even stated early on in the war by the US, by President Biden I believe.

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Imokru2
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The only plan Biden has is a decision as to whether he has warm milk or cocoa before his 12 hour sleep.
Wake up folks, this guy can’t even read a teleprompter without making a mistake. His campaign is doomed to total collapse.

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Kevin Holzer
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Putin is already half way to winning the war. He knew the United States would be the first one to pull support and run off to the next country. Sorry, but Ukraine should have never trusted the United States and given up their nuclear weapons. The U.S. can never be trusted any more than Russia can.

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John
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@Jerry, On the bright side President Biden spent every dime he could aiding Ukraine...at least that portion that is not now subject to rumps MRGA stalling efforts. Without that Ukraine would have been overrun by rumps' boss putin and his murderous forces within a month. Still an early no fly zone commitment or some fighters and longer range missiles should have been part of the early Biden approved aid packages. The allied response was overly timid in my opinion, but allies now know that a stronger response is merited.

At any rate, its now almost 2 years since putins '3 day special genocide operation' commenced and Ukraine perseveres and fights on valiantly against putins' thug invaders.

Ukrainians' deserve and will receive the allies continued support. The EU traitors in Hungary and the USA's MRGA cult must be thwarted. EU will be first in sidelining its worst problem child. I have faith the sane politicians in the USA will also also figure out how to sideline the MAGA cult trying to overthrow their democracy.

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Jerry
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Biden: Always Mr. Too Little Too Late. Thus his nickname "Sleepy Joe."

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Mikhail Dushenko
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What a pile of shit! Biden doesn’t know what planet he’s on, much less have a fucking plan. Stop wasting peoples time with your shitty editorials.

John
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@Mikhail Dushenko, Many have also been perplexed by the Biden government's apparent hesitancy in suppling Ukraine with more powerful missiles, planes and other useful weaponry. Still he spent all that was available to him to support Ukraine.

Haley seems more interested in sending whatever weaponry is needed to more quickly end russia's criminal invasion. The other GOP candidate of course would a disaster and sell out Ukraine within 24 hours to his buddy putin.

Also what are your thoughts on how to sideline the MAGA members in the House that are presently delaying the additional $61 billion in USA aid Biden is asking it to approve. I also refer to that group as the MRGA group since the are the first to parrot putin's propaganda. It's sounds like rump is now demanding his GOP minions to stall this aid package despite Biden now offering the originally GOP requested $13.9 billion border defence / immigration policy concessions.

Philip
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@John, I like your earnest question to Mikhail, though his comment makes clear he wouldn’t have an interest in sidelining the cancerous MRGA Congress members. Complaining about Biden’s efforts, which are intentionally hamstrung by Republicants willing do everything it takes to prevent any progress on anything, lest Biden get a “win” even if it means everybody loses, is either the height of ignorance or the height of propaganda.

Actually, he doesn’t complain about anything specific, just rails that Biden is old. Oh well, your comments are spot-on.

Cheers-

John
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@Philip, Thanks. I call this technique 'poking the bear', but really its not a fair analogy as bears don't deserve poking. II suppose its' my way of flushing out the true colours of a commenter indirectly. You assessment of this one is correct...their choice of words fits.

I know what wording now sets them off, so when I start suspecting a new troll I slip in a some of these and wait for them to lash out with profanity....e voila a new troll has been tagged...ready for future torment. I admit its a bit mean spirited, but yet at present it brings me a lot of satisfaction for some reason. Cheers.

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Andy MaxHo
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@Mikhail Dushenko,

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John
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@Mikhail Dushenko, Many have also been perplexed by the Biden government's apparent hesitancy in suppling Ukraine with more powerful missiles, planes and other useful weaponry.

Still he spent all that was available to him to support Ukraine. 

Haley seems more interested in sending whatever weaponry is needed to more quickly end russia's criminal invasion. The other GOP candidate of course would a disaster and sell out Ukraine within 24 hours to his buddy putin.



Also what are your thoughts on how to sideline the MAGA members in the House that are presently delaying the additional $61 billion in USA aid Biden is asking it to approve. I also refer to that group as the MRGA group since the are the first to parrot putin's propaganda. It's sounds like rump is now demanding his GOP minions to stall this aid package despite Biden now offering the originally GOP requested $13.9 billion border defence / immigration policy concessions.

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