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The most divisive issue among Republicans today is what to do about Ukraine. It pits establishment Republican hawks against MAGA Republicans. It is delaying a final budget agreement. Republican candidates argue about this issue in debates and insult each other. Everyone agrees on what to do about the economy, what to do about the southern border, what to do about woke culture. But they can’t agree on what to do about Ukraine.
Conventional wisdom insists that there are only two options with Ukraine: either we are all in or we are all out. Or the United States spends tens of billions a year, indefinitely, to supply Ukraine’s military and keep its government afloat with no clear path to victory; Or we cut off the funding and let the Europeans deal with the problem, knowing that Ukraine will probably fall into the hands of Russia.
Both are terrible and unacceptable options. It’s time to find a third option that satisfies both sides of the divide.
That’s what Reagan did in the 1980s with the Soviet Union. The conventional wisdom of his time believed that there were only two options for dealing with the Soviet Union: an eternal Cold War or capitulation. Reagan rejected both. He said his policy was simple: we win, they lose.
WHITE HOUSE CONFIRMS OVER $100 BILLION SPENT ON UKRAINE WAR
Reagan had no intention of fighting a hot war. Rather, he would win by bankrupting the Soviet Union and forcing its leaders to negotiate an end to the Cold War…on our terms. It worked.
We can do the same today. We can bankrupt Russia and force it to negotiate an end to the Ukrainian war. Neither party would “win” and get everything they want, but each would get enough to live on. Ukraine could begin to rebuild and achieve peace.
The problem is that none of the Republican candidates have figured it out yet, and Biden’s Democrats and establishment Republican hawks never will. They have invested too much in another eternal war. Forever wars are big business in Washington, both for campaign contributions and virtue signaling. But regardless of his chest-beating rhetoric, no one seriously believes that Putin will surrender in defeat and return his forces to Moscow. As long as he has the funds, he will continue to fight. Ukraine will too. Another war forever.
We can bankrupt Russia and force it to negotiate an end to the Ukrainian war. Neither party would “win” and get everything they want, but each would get enough to live on. Ukraine could begin to rebuild and achieve peace.
It is much better and easier to take the piggy bank from Putin. Bankrupting Russia today is even easier than in the Reagan era. Today, Russia gets about a third of its budget from oil and gas exports. Historically, when energy prices were high, Russia (and before it the USSR) strengthened its military, fought proxy wars, and invaded its neighbors. When energy prices were low, Moscow hunkered down and struggled to feed its people.
Reagan understood that and that’s why he convinced the Saudis to pump more oil and drive down prices in the 1980s. It was simple supply and demand. Oil prices went from $40 to $18 a barrel in nine months. Suddenly, the Soviet Union’s energy revenues were cut in half. They could barely afford to feed their people. Continuing a costly arms race with the United States was impossible.
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The proof is what has happened in the last ten years. Oil prices were $100 a barrel in 2008: Putin invaded Georgia. Oil prices were almost as high in 2014: Russia annexed Crimea. When oil prices fell to $40 a barrel between 2016 and 2020 during the Trump years, Russia could not afford to go to war. President Biden changed course, put handcuffs on American energy producers, and surprise, surprise: prices skyrocketed. When prices rose back to $100, Putin invaded Ukraine.
If we took the shackles off the American energy industry, we could produce and export cheap, abundant, safe, and environmentally responsible natural gas and oil. Not only would we become energy independent again, which is great for our economy. We would also be energy. dominant.
We could set global prices for energy and reduce them. Once again we could bankrupt Russia. Putin would have no choice but to negotiate an end to the war in Ukraine.
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So neither side will “win” the Ukrainian war. A negotiated settlement would give each side enough to live on, but not everything they want. It may not be morally satisfying, given how bravely Ukrainians have fought and how evil Putin has been. But a negotiated settlement would pave the way for Ukraine to win peace.
As soon as a Republican candidate realizes that, he is in a good position to unite both sides of the party divide. And he will be well positioned to defeat a Democrat whose main foreign policy platform is another forever war.
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