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  • Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) is bristling because he’s being called a Putin Puppet. (Photo: Congress)

    “I think it’s disgraceful. I think it’s grotesque,” says Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance. He’s right, but not in the way he thinks.

    Vance was complaining on Fox News because he’s being called a “Putin puppet” for pushing in Congress to cut all U.S. aid to Ukraine.

    But what’s really disgraceful and grotesque is denying the funds Ukraine needs to defend itself from Russian genocide.

    And make no mistake, Vance and other GOP lawmakers are Putin puppets.

    Vance, of course, says it’s all about the money. Some $61 billion is tied up in Congress over a GOP effort to link the money to draconian immigration policy changes.

    But it’s a false argument. The money is a drop in the bucket, All U.S. aid to Ukraine, so far, amounts to about 5%, of the overall U.S. defense budget. And it’s a tiny fraction of the nation’s $25.4 trillion gross domestic product (GDP).

    What’s worse, Republicans, Vance included, are trying to portray Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as some kind of money grubbing teenager, who is blowing the cash on yachts and dachas.

    “Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine,” pronounced Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

    The fact is more than 90% of the money spent stays in the United States and Europe to buy arms from U.S. and European manufacturers. Much of the existing equipment shipped to Ukraine is surplus, and the exchange of money is merely a bookkeeping exercise. Plus the transfers are audited.

    So it can’t just be “the money.”

    The only other explanation is that Republicans are bent on obstructing the Biden Administration, at any cost, for political gain. That is not only disgraceful and grotesque, but also cynical and despicable.

    There have been reports that Donald Trump is pressuring Republicans to obstruct Ukraine funding, also for cynical political gain. It wouldn’t be surprising if that were true. Trump has never had U.S. interests at heart, unless it meshes with his interest.

    All of this could be written off as typical Capitol Hill politicking, if it involved some other issue. But in this case, millions of lives hang in the balance if Republicans hand Russia free rein in Ukraine.

    What’s more, Vance and Republicans are directly undermining U.S. national security, the security of our European allies and NATO. War is hell; nobody wants it. But Russia launched an unprovoked attack on Ukraine in a war of conquest, not the other way around.

    Republican wavering is already seeding other aggression in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. It’s a clear sign the United States lacks resolve and can be intimidated by dictators into backing down in the face of aggression. How long will it be before China attacks Taiwan? Or Russia, a NATO country?

    That will put U.S. troops directly in harm’s way in a superpower confrontation no one wants. But appeasing Putin is not the answer.

    Make no mistake, we’ve been here before. In the 1930s, a strong “America First” movement arose in the 1930s, fueled, at that time, by Nazi propaganda. The goal was to keep America out of the brewing European war.

    Prominent Republicans like Charles Linbergh, Henry Ford, and radio priest Father Charles Coughlin among others led the movement. Lawmakers, like Sen. Ernest Lundeen and Rep. Hamilton Fish III, spouted anti-British, anti-interventionist propaganda supplied by Germany. 

    Today, Vance, Reps. Majorie Taylor Greene, (R-Ga) Matt Gaetz (R-Fla), Andy Biggs (R-Ala), Paul Gosar (R-Az), Matt Rosendale (R-Az), and Mary Miller (R-Il) are among lawmakers who play those roles. Whether their talking points are supplied by the Kremlin is an open question, but they eerily dovetail.

    The Father Coughlins of today are Fox News talking heads, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Jeanine Pirro, Fox News outcast Tucker Carlson and right-wing extremists like Steve Bannon and Gen. Mike Flynn.

    In the 1930s, both Germany and Japan were swayed by U.S. isolationists.

    Japan took Republican isolationism as a sign that America wouldn’t fight, leading to launch a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Japan counted on America isolationists to press the nation to sue for peace.

    Hitler capriciously declared war on the United States after the Japanese attack, but thought the United States would be too tied up fighting in Asia to get involved in Europe.

    Thank God, the JD Vances of that era were shouted down. The cost was high, millions died, but democracy and freedom were preserved around the world by U.S. involvement in World War II.

    Out of the war, the United States emerged as the undisputed superpower and began an era of Pax Americana, nearly 80 years without a major world war. All during that time, U.S. leaders showed unremitting resolve to counter Soviet Communist expansionism.

    The resulting “Cold War” ended in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed under unrelenting pressure from then Republican President Ronald Reagan’s military build up.

    During the Reagan era, between 1980 and 1985, defense expenditures accelerated, by 5.5 percent annually until they reached 6.6 percent of GNP-the largest proportion of the economy in U.S. peacetime history. Today, the U.S. spends about 2 percent of GNP on defense.

    After the Soviet collapse, European satellite nations, including Ukraine, gained their independence. Many of those nations petitioned to join NATO to counter any potential future Russian aggression.

    Unfortunately, Ukraine remained in Russia’s orbit and did not join.

    In 2014, Ukrainian citizens engaged in the Revolution of Dignity, also known as the Maidan Revolution or Ukrainian Revolution, to throw off Russian influence and become a Western-oriented democracy.

    Putin, who rose through the ranks of the Soviet secret police to become president in 2012, wasted no time trying to reassert Russian control over the country.

    He launched a secret invasion of Crimea and the Donbas in 2014 by infiltrating Russian troops into those regions.

    It was the beginning of a low-grade war that exploded into a full-blown invasion in Feb. 2022. Russian troops poured across the border in what was supposed to be a three day “Special Operation.”

    But Russia severely miscalculated Ukrainian resolve to defend their nation.

    Zelenskyy vowed that Ukrainians would fight the war alone, without risking U.S. or European troops, if the West would supply his nation with the weapons it needed.

    With Western help, Ukraine has reclaimed more than half of the land Russia had captured since the start of the war. Today, Russia holds only 18% of Ukraine’s land mass and is on the defensive on a 600-mile front.

    Now is the time to step up aid to Ukraine, not cut it. That includes Western fighter jets, tanks, long range missiles and ammunition to continue its fight, which an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians support after two years of war.

    Putin has shown no interest is negotiating; instead he’s counting on lack of resolve in the United States and Europe to undermine Ukraine’s defense.

    As such, the United States today, faces a similar challenge to the 1930s when “America First” isolationism was playing into Hitler’s hands.

    Putin is waging aggressive disinformation and destabilization campaign to sow doubts about the War, which it is clearly losing. To stop aid now, could reverse the tide of the war and lead to future aggression once Russia has a chance to rebuild its military.

    Vance protests that he is not a “Putin puppet” yet his comments and actions on aid to Ukraine clearly foster Putin’s goals.

    It’s unclear what Vance hopes to gain by undermining U.S. national security at home, in Europe and around the world. He must know, appeasing Putin will never lead to peace.

    And, yes, his actions are disgraceful and grotesque.