GOP ready to defund Ukraine war — and that could be catastrophic

Among Republicans who support Donald Trump, nearly all of them support cutting off aid to Ukraine

By Lucian K. Truscott IV


Published November 28, 2023 9:00AM (EST)

Mike Johnson and Mitch McConnell (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Mike Johnson and Mitch McConnell (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

How about this: All those orders you’ve placed with Amazon, not just for Christmas celebrations a month from now, but regular stuff, like sets of sheets, and replacement Nikes for your worn-out running shoes, and two new mattresses — the kind that come compressed and rolled up in a box — for new twin beds for your guest bedroom, and a new down jacket for that ski trip to Utah you’re planning for January, and a new coffee grinder to replace the one that gave up the ghost last month…

None of those orders are coming because FedEx and UPS and the Postal Service have stopped deliveries. You drove to Walmart yesterday to stock up on toilet paper and paper towels and canned soup, and it was closed. The gas station over on Broad Street has a sign out reading “NO MORE GAS” and the Wawa convenience store is closed, too.

You turn on the television and all they are talking about is the last wave of cruise missiles that hit oil wells in Texas and Amazon warehouses in Riverside, California, and six skyscrapers in New York City, and one even hit one of the hotels across Lafayette Park from the White House.

The United States is under attack. It doesn’t matter by who, really. Your country has already lost more than 4,000 civilians to the attacks by cruise missiles and ground-to-ground ballistic missiles carrying conventional warheads. National Guard units are scrambling to mobilize. At the 101st Airborne Division out in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, all leaves have been canceled and somewhere north of 50,000 troops have been put on DefCon One alert. C-141 transport aircraft at bases all around the United States are being fueled, and as soldiers arrive by trucks and buses — even Greyhound buses have been commandeered for military use – the jet engines have begun to spool up.  Air Force bases have gone tactical — the only lights along runways are red; everything else is blacked out.

Now the entire city of Atlanta is blacked out. Two power plants supplying electricity to the city were hit and substations in Alpharetta and Kennesaw and Forest Park and other suburbs are sparking and bursting into flames from power surges and overloads. Charlotte just went dark, followed by Pittsburgh and Columbus. 

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The West Coast is starting to report missile attacks. San Jose was hit by a swarm of what appeared to be submarine-launched cruise missiles, taking out the Apple headquarters. Now Seattle has reported a strike on its downtown, followed by a hit on Redmond, Washington, where Microsoft is headquartered. Austin and Dallas are blacked out from power failures that affect both downtowns and the high-tech industries around the cities.

Washington, D.C., is reporting more cruise missile strikes on Fort Meade, Maryland. Power to Dulles Airport and the corridor of defense contractors between Dulles and Arlington Virginia, has been hit repeatedly.

The Capitol has not yet come under fire. The House and Senate chambers are empty, as are the Rayburn, Russell, Hart and Cannon office buildings on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress have been spirited away to bunkers at Fort McNair and tunnel complexes in the Catoctin Mountains in Maryland near Camp David, where an emptied-out White House has sent the president and all of the West Wing and many of the staffers who work in the Executive Office Building.

Do you want to know what is not happening among members of Congress and the president and the rest of his Cabinet? They aren’t squabbling over how much money is going to be spent to defend the United States against this attack. In fact, the House of Representatives just passed what amounts to a blank check supplemental spending bill of $3 trillion to fund the military response that is already underway and repairs to essential infrastructure like the power grid around major cities, including Washington, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. Defense plants all around the country are ramping up under new defense contracts with the Pentagon to provide ammunition, spare parts, and new fighter jets and bombers and heavy armor like tanks and light armor like armored personnel carriers. Makeshift defenses using National Guard troops and anti-aircraft and anti-missile batteries are being established around oil, wind, and solar infrastructure. Rail infrastructure from rail beds to freight trains to switching yards have been nationalized to enable the movement of military supplies and civilian aid around the country.

The latest pink-cheeked Republican leader in the House and this year’s aging walrus serving as Republican leader in the Senate, along with Democratic leaders in both chambers, have issued a joint statement in support of the ongoing war effort. “No expense will be spared to defend this great nation,” the statement reads, as civilian casualties passed the 100,000 mark.

How about that imaginary scenario, huh? When it comes to an enemy attack on a sovereign nation, it really depends on whose ox is gored, doesn’t it?

What I just described is essentially what happened to Ukraine in the first hours and days following Feb. 24, 2022. Bombs, missiles — both cruise and ballistic — rained down on Ukraine’s two major cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv. Naval artillery fire slammed into the port cities of Mariupol and Mykolaiv and Kherson and Odessa. Miles and miles of combat convoys crossed the borders Ukraine has with Russia and Belarus.  Ukraine’s power grid came under heavy attack. One city after another in Ukraine’s east fell to Russian attack. 

The Russians had more than a year to establish a web of elaborate defenses to protect the land they had seized from Ukraine. They had all that time because U.S. support for Ukraine came in dribs and drabs.

The United States started ramping up, along with its NATO allies, to send military and humanitarian assistance to the first European state to come under attack from another country since World War II. We started by sending 105mm howitzers and 105 mm ammunition; small arms and ammunition; Javelin and TOW anti-tank weapons. It took several months before the howitzers we supplied were upgraded to 155mm long guns with much greater range and accuracy than howitzers. Still more months went by until we began sending HIMARS ground-to-ground rocket launchers, and nearly two years before we began sending ATACMS long range missiles, and even then, we didn’t send them the variant that has a range of 190 miles, but rather the lesser model with a range of about 100 miles. We finally got around to sending our main battle tank, the Abrams M-1, earlier this year, and they only recently began being used on the battlefield. It wasn’t until this April, more than a year after Russia began rocketing Ukraine, that we sent Patriot anti-missile batteries to Ukraine. 

Now, as we approach the beginning of year two of Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression, the war has been stalemated. Russia has been unable to move from its defensive lines of anti-tank mines, trenches, and artillery batteries along the 600-mile front in the war, and Ukraine has not been able to effectively mount its counteroffensive, which began in the spring, because the Russians had more than a year to establish the web of elaborate defenses to protect the land they had seized from Ukraine. They had all that time because U.S. support for Ukraine came in dribs and drabs.

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And what’s happening back here in the United States, where stores are open for Christmas shopping, your Amazon packages will arrive via UPS, FedEX and USPS this afternoon and tomorrow and the day after that, and where your electricity isn’t out, there’s plenty of food on the shelves of your local Kroger or Stop & Shop, kids are in school and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills will premiere another episode this week?

The MAGA Republican Party is penny-pinching on support for Ukraine, demanding “concessions” on immigration policy and more money for handling illegal border crossings from Mexico. President Biden’s $106 billion package for aid to Ukraine, Israel and other pressing needs is sitting unattended in Congress as Republicans attempt to link military and humanitarian aid for two allied countries who have been under attack to gain an advantage on an issue they expect will garner them votes a year from now. The White House has asked for an immediate $24 billion for Ukraine. The Congress pushed the government shutdown deadline off until two drop-dead dates in January and February of next year, but they haven’t moved on the immediate crisis in support for Ukraine. Now, according to Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, “Ukraine is at a critical point. The Russians are just counting on us to give up and walk away — and then they walk in.”

What country will he invade next? Poland? Lithuania? Latvia? Romania? Bulgaria? And then what do we do?

A year ago, support for helping the fight against the Russians as they flooded across Ukraine’s border was across the board politically in this country. Last week, a CNN/University of New Hampshire poll found that 59 percent of likely voters in the Republican primary support ending all funding for Ukraine aid. Among Republicans supporting Donald Trump in the primary, 84 percent support cutting off all aid to Ukraine.

How can aid to a country that has suffered hundreds of thousands of civilian and military casualties and had a quarter of its territory occupied by Russian soldiers become a partisan issue, you may ask?

The Republican Party is pretending that we are “under attack” by immigrants seeking asylum on our southern border. The immigrants are unarmed, in large measure impoverished and desperate, and all they want is a chance to seek legal protection under our asylum laws. 

The next time Mike Johnson or Mitch McConnell have a press conference, some enterprising journalist should ask them when was the last time either of them missed a meal or had the lights go out because the substation in their neighborhood had been hit by an armed drone.

We are not under attack. Ukraine is, you Putin-loving fools.

By Lucian K. Truscott IV

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better. You can read his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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Commentary Mike Johnson Mitch Mcconnell Putin Republicans Russia Ukraine War