J.D. Vance and GOP’s myopic views on Ukraine — opinion

I read Hillbilly Elegy. It’s a good book. Reading it gives you an idea of what life is like for the people who live in Appalachia. The struggles, the angst.  How families are ripped apart, how the lucky ones are able to escape, including the author, who joined the Marines. The author shows heart and empathy.

This author, U.S. Senator JD Vance, was initially opposed to Trump. “I’m a Never Trump guy, I never liked him.” – 2016 interview with Charlie Rose, and “My god what an idiot,” a 2016 tweet. But like so many Republicans who were initially appalled by Trump, Vance made an about face to become a voracious  Trump supporter. He could see that his political career depended on Trump’s favor.

Senator Vance’s recent opinion column in The New York Times was disheartening. He claims to be talking about the mathematics of defending Ukraine against the bigger and more powerful Russia. He cites the shortage of weapons, the shortage of manpower, and how much bigger Russia is than Ukraine. According to the Senator, Ukraine is doomed. But he’s missing the most important thing.

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Let’s consider some historical examples, starting with Vietnam. The United States had an overwhelming advantage except for one thing, the Vietnam people had an absolute determination to win - at any cost. Same for Afghanistan. Their fighters stood up to the Great Soviet Union and then to the United States, where we fought for 20-years. American soldiers fought as they were asked. Our nation had every superiority, but the Taliban had an absolute determination to win, no matter how long, no matter what it cost.

Ukraine has a history with Russia, and it didn’t start with V.I. Lenin. Russian and Putin believe they have a God-given right to rule over their neighboring states. Lenin and Stalin starved a million Ukrainians. Ukraine hasn’t forgotten. And Ukraine knows that Russia will be a cruel and harsh ruler. Ukraine is determined to win; they have to win. If they negotiate, it gives the Russians time to regroup for a third major offensive against Ukraine that started with the acquisition of Crimea and parts of the Donbass region. The Russians crushed Chechnya; they suppressed Georgia. Their army and their mercenaries are propping up a despised despot in Belarus. This is how they operate, and they will not stop until they are stopped. The Ukrainians are determined to stop them. With some help from the United States, Ukraine will succeed. Ukraine wants democracy.  The Ukrainians want what we take for granted and are willing to fight and die if necessary to get it. We should give them the help they need if we believe in our own rhetoric.

I started out by saying that Senator Vance had a heart because of what he wrote in Hillbilly Elegy. Appreciating the heart of Ukraine is what’s missing in Senator Vance’s New York Times column.

Read also: Ukraine will lose Russia’s war if the US Congress can’t figure out how to pass aid bill – Zelenskyy

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