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Trump has suggested a workable and novel way to help Ukraine. Let's consider it

OpinionTrump has suggested a workable and novel way to help Ukraine. Let's consider it

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A president faces congressional recalcitrance to fund a faltering ally in a war against an adversary with designs on Europe. Such was the situation in 1941 when President Roosevelt faced isolationists in the U.S. Senate over backing the British against Nazi Germany. 

As the Russian-Ukrainian war enters a pivotal year, supporters of Ukraine face similar political opposition in the House of Representatives where the Speaker has declared a Senate-passed funding bill dead on arrival. Like the UK in 1941, Ukraine is in a precarious position. Without more military assistance, Ukraine will increasingly lose more territory like the recent fall of Adviivka.

How to resolve the impasse and help Ukraine? Of all people, former President Donald Trump has suggested a workaround — convert the cost of the weapons transfers into a loan. Trump even specified that the loan would bear no interest and would only be paid “if Ukraine ever strikes it rich.” 

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This has a historical precedent. During a Caribbean cruise after his reelection in 1940, President Roosevelt conceived of a mechanism whereby the U.S. could lend or lease military equipment and ammunition to countries considered vital to the defense of the U.S. FDR likened Lend Lease to loaning a garden hose to a neighbor whose house was on fire. By not styling the assistance as a grant to the UK, FDR assuaged concerns about “foreign aid.”  

FDR had previously wrong-footed his political opponents. Instead of giving the British 50 naval destroyers, FDR insisted they be paired with a transfer to the U.S. of British bases in the Caribbean and western Atlantic. How’s that for the art of the deal?

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It’s in the vital national interest of the U.S. to continue to enable Ukraine’s military to stop a regenerated Putin from threatening NATO and drawing us into war. Considering these stakes, insisting on loans seems harsh given that Ukraine is fighting for its existence. 

Churchill likened Lend Lease to “a sheriff collecting the last assets of a helpless debtor.” But without new military assistance, Ukraine’s prospects will sink. 

FDR’s maneuvering to help the British provide a guide. 

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We should employ such creativity, seize on Trump’s idea and take yes for an answer. 

Take the win.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM MICHAEL ALLEN

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