Insights & Analysis

U.S. Perspective on Transatlantic Relations: Ukraine and the Fight for Funding?

Karen A. Tramontano & Erin McCoy
#BlueStarBrief#October 2023#Perspective

The Return of NATO Leadership

NATO remains the most successful military alliance in history, contributing to Western prosperity and being pivotal in preventing new world wars. This alliance – once at the core of an American-led liberal world order connecting Europe and the United States in a mutual defense commitment aimed at promoting democratic governance – has faced years of criticism regarding its purpose. Over time, NATO has been weakened from within, as its member nations failed to meet defense spending commitments and grappled with the rise of nationalism. Former President Trump exacerbated this by dismissing America’s European allies and accusing NATO of exploiting American generosity.

The Biden administration has prioritized rebuilding a robust transatlantic relationship, integral to American national security in a world marked by the ascent of an assertive China, war in Ukraine, and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East. Since Russia’s invaded Ukraine, NATO and its allies have exhibited unprecedented unity. After decades of uncertainty, success in Ukraine could lead to a resurgence of leadership from the United States and its allies. There are challenges ahead.

The Fight for Funds

The success of democracy in Ukraine is not only essential for the nation’s prosperity and stability but also holds global significance. As Ukraine continues to grapple with the ongoing conflict, the perseverance of democracy is crucial for safeguarding the principles of freedom, human rights, and self-determination. Ukraine stands as a beacon of hope for the region and the world, demonstrating the people’s will to shape their own destinies is stronger than Russian aggression. A win in Ukraine is a testament to the resilience of the Ukrainian people, who have shown unwavering commitment to democratic values, even in the face of adversity. Victory in Ukraine is more than territorial integrity but rather about preserving the democratic aspirations of a country and the belief that peaceful and inclusive governance can overcome aggression.

President Biden has explicitly emphasized that supporting NATO and Ukraine aligns with the best interests of the United States. Former Ambassador to Ukraine, John Herbst, now a senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, states, “If Putin wins in Ukraine, he will be provoking and maybe committing direct aggression against our NATO allies, which will require greater American defense expenditures and the use of American troops.” While most Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – continue to support U.S. military assistance for Ukraine, support has declined among Republicans. And, several Republican Members of the House of Representatives have announced they will not support funding for Ukraine.

These pronouncements come at a tenuous time in the U.S. Congress. For weeks after the ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the Republicans have been fighting among themselves to determine a new Speaker of the House. Additionally, the U.S. Government will run out of funding in a few weeks, and Republicans have a narrow majority in the House, which has exasperated in fighting and resulted in an inability to get the people’s work done. Most troubling is, again, the disarray in Washington raises the questions of reliability and predictability of the United States to our European allies.

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