View of street filled with destroyed Russian military vehicles

Domestic Border Security has Nothing at All to do with our Ukraine Policy

Candidates for president and other high offices and public policy organizations alike are attempting to poke holes in U.S. aid to Ukraine by drawing comparisons to American immigration policy. Their rhetorical approach is as fatuous as it is strategically dangerous, undermining our nation’s ability to face current and impending challenges.

It should be no surprise that the Ukraine War is still dragging on after 18 months. Indeed, the war started eight and a half years ago, when Russia snatched Crimea from Ukraine during Kyiv’s period of weakness beginning in 2013. This has already been, and inevitably will be, a long war.

In 2015, Russia hoped to bully Ukraine, through a combination of subversion, threats, and political-economic manipulation, into accepting the Russian-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” as part of the Ukrainian polity. The Russian-controlled east would hold between 10 and 15 percent of parliamentary seats at a minimum, and Russian electoral interference and other active measures would enhance the electoral gains of pro-Kremlin parties, such that Russia could wield a veto over Ukrainian foreign policy.

Putin’s objective did not change in 2022, but his method did. Having detected an opportunity, he sought to absorb Ukraine directly. With its economy now only the size of Italy, and its population in near-terminal decline for decades, Russia is no longer a great power without Ukraine. Its effective control of Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, the Caucasus, and Ukraine, however, would make it a truly global power again, with sufficient control of the global food and energy supply to make it competitive with the Euro-Atlantic alliance.

The arc of Russian strategy is long, as is the current war. The U.S. and its allies, however, have not fully accepted this reality — hence the pernicious leaks from Washington about a negotiated settlement, and the increasing drumbeat on the American right to simply “end” the war.

There are undeniably trade-offs between support for Ukraine and other policy priorities. A handful of the weapons supplied to Ukraine’s armed forces, namely MANPADS and anti-tank guided missiles, could have some impact in the Indo-Pacific if a Sino-American war erupts. But the industrial issues that plague U.S. defense production have little to do with Ukraine.  Considering the air-sea character that an Indo-Pacific conflict would take, and the specific nature of the U.S. defense industrial difficulties, the trade-offs between Europe and Asia are largely irrelevant.

Still, even that is a debate worth having, unlike the completely unserious attempt to pit the issue of domestic border security against that of our support for Ukraine.

Border security is a unique American political football that has become entwined in the culture war.  There are obvious policy issues that any administration must address regarding immigration control. Protectionist arguments that accuse Latin American migrants of “taking American jobs” and driving wages downward might even have some merit. And undeniably, many of the illicit drugs in the United States come through Mexican pipelines, supported by the powerful drug cartels that have bedeviled Latin American political development since the 1970s.

Read the rest at The Hill.

Seth Cropsey is the founder and president of Yorktown Institute.

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