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Ben Shapiro Is Wrong on Ukraine
It’s easier to persuade my side to be better than to persuade the other side to cross over so one key area I’d like to help us be better on is the Russo-Ukrainian War.
The Great Ben Shapiro (peace be upon him) recently wrote…
Ukraine is becoming a litmus test for Republican candidates because of the bad-faith argument that if you think we must fund Ukraine in its war against Russia, you don't care about American poverty. This is wrong. The two issues are not connected.
First off, pouring money into poverty-ridden areas does not result in prosperity. That has nothing to do with Ukraine. "Government spending means prosperity" is a lie. Half the people now promoting that lie know it and have spoken out openly against it in the past. You can be skeptical of Ukrainian military aid while STILL being in favor of entitlement reform.
Ben Shapiro (peace be upon him) wants to spend more money on Ukraine and less money on the American poor.
He justifies cutting money to the poor by seemingly only considering the downsides of our large welfare state, which he’s correct in highlighting that giving evermore money to people on the condition that they stay poor isn’t a recipe for prosperity, but this isn’t the only way to spend money on them.
We’ve spent money on the poor via public education, infrastructure projects, Homestead Acts, Social Security, and providing employment opportunities in a variety of national services (army, navy, coast guard, peace corps, etc).
Now, this isn’t to say that I think Ben doesn’t care about the poor, but I just wanted to highlight that there’s many ways in which we can use the money we’re currently sending to Ukraine to help our poor that doesn’t involve increasing welfare and entitlements.
Second off, the notion that America has no interests in Ukraine is untrue. We have an interest in the Russian military being defanged so they do not invade surrounding nations, thus threatening global supply chains and strengthening American opponents. We have an interest in deterring China from invading Taiwan.
It isn’t possible to “defang” Russia without going into Russia, which Ben is the first person to say we shouldn’t do.
In other words, you can’t defang a wolf without touching it.
The Russian military is bigger today than it was at the start of the war.
And even if we succeeded in degrading their military how long would it take for them to rebuild it? A decade?
Only by obliterating their economy can we hope to obliterate their military, but Russia’s GDP is also bigger than it was at the start of the war.
Ask yourself… is potentially degrading the Russian military for a decade worth a century of increased bad blood between America and Russia?
I strongly believe the answer is no!
He argues “defanging” Russia will deter them and China from invading their neighbors.
But the line between deterrence and provocation is thin.
I agree with deterrence, which is why I think America should have a strong enough military to defend our own borders and serve as an example to the rest of the world to do the same for themselves, but even after Crimea was invaded they still spent less on their military as a percentage of GDP than Russia because I suppose they expected the American taxpayer to foot the bill?
Taiwan is currently spending little on its military too. In order to increase deterrence we should make it clear that the less a nation is willing to build its own muscles then the less we’re willing to use our own for their benefit.
I also agree with deterrence in that Europe should step up to protect its own backyard. With America assuming evermore responsibility as the world police this has caused nations to neglect their own defense, which means they have fewer weapons that they could’ve otherwise sent to Ukraine.
Finally, I believe in a systematic approach to foreign policy rather than one where we arbitrarily pick-and-choose who are the “good” dictators and who are the bad ones based ostensibly on moral principle, but more so on “our” interests.
I think we should implement a tyranny tariff (aka a censorship sanction) where we tax nations 5% - 10% that prohibit free speech and a Get the Force Out Act where any nation that unjustly invades another nation would automatically get hit with a 30% tariff/sanction + the invaded would get aid equal to 30% of their GDP and then to multiply the effects of this legislation we should pressure our allies to adopt versions of them too so that the economic cost of censorship and invasion would be so high that only the tiniest tyrants would choose to make their economy tinier.
But we are now stuck in this weird binary strawman situation in which we are told that either we must fund Ukraine "until they win, as long as it takes," without defining winning or "as long as it takes"; or "we must stop the war in Ukraine" without defining what "stopping" looks like (does it mean withdrawing all aid, thus leading Russia to take Kyiv?).
What about the position that we have interests in Ukraine, that they do not match the Ukrainian interests entirely, and that we should fund Ukraine so as to prevent their takeover while pushing for a peace agreement that cedes certain territory to the Russians while granting security guarantees to the Ukrainians?
Shapiro ends with a middle-ground approach of giving aid while also pushing for peace, but my point is that we’ll get peace faster if we stop giving endless aid.
All the US president has to do is push Zelensky and pull Putin to the negotiation table.
The hardest part will be getting Zelensky to agree to give up some land and the only way he’d agree to do so is if he can go to his voters and blame America for pushing him into a corner by refusing to give him any more military destruction aid while dangling over his head reconstruction aid.
All nuance is lost in politics pretty quickly. It's always much easier to malign your opponents as uncaring about their fellow Americans. But demagoguery comes at a pretty high societal cost.
If Ben genuinely believes that “all nuance is lost in politics” then surely he should see how spending more money on defense is making it easier to spend more money on non-defense since both parties claim to want to cut the other only to then compromise by raising both.
Given the choice between no cuts in the name of “national security” or across-the-board cuts, I choose the latter.
In other words, I support the federal government spending more money on the poor and middle class so long as it’s part of a larger spending cut whereas Ben Shapiro supports the federal government spending more money on the military regardless.
In the end, demagoguery does come at a high cost, but not high enough at home or abroad so let’s trim and tax it.