JD Vance

J.D. Vance decries war fever, butchery and bullying

Many people who don’t limit their news sources to the corporate propaganda industry—including its local minor league affiliates—are aware that the NATO-Russian War by way of Ukraine could have been over a few weeks after the Russian invasion.

In fact, it could easily have been over before the invasion.

And tens of thousands of Ukrainian lives could have been saved.

Ukrainian hero Zelenskyy prepares to take on Putin.

It has been well documented that Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the high-heeled comic, corrupt president of Ukraine, stooge of the military industrial complex and hero to Ukrainian flag-waving simpletons in the U.S. House of Representatives, generally agreed to a peace proposal with Russia shortly after the invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s primary demand was a promise that Ukraine would not join NATO—which has been Putin’s biggest concern for the last 25 years. That alarmed NATO and the war industry, which hastily dispatched Boris Johnson, then prime minister of the U.K., to personally inform their stooge that there would be war, not peace.

And war and death we have had, extended time and again by the infusion of around $140 billion courtesy of you and I by way of our compromised and/or psychopathic representatives in Washington. Those who vote for these aid packages either don’t understand that Ukraine is not going to win—and every dollar spent to prolong the war is going to kill more Ukrainian people—or worse, they don’t care.

To his credit, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) was not among those who voted to provide an additional $61 billion in war-prolonging cash to Ukraine on April 23.

Below my present babble, I have pasted the comments Vance made about the Ukraine situation on the floor of the Senate on that date. The comments are lengthy, but I think they are worth the read. One of his most noteworthy observations is the following:

  • “So for three years, the Europeans have told us that Vladimir Putin is an existential threat to Europe, and for three years they have failed to respond as if that were actually true. … if Vladimir Putin is a threat to Germany and France, if he is a threat to Berlin and Paris, then they should spend more money on military equipment.”
  • “What about the assault on traditional Christian communities? Just today, the Ukrainian parliament is considering enacting a law that would dispossess large numbers of Christian churches and Christian communities in the country of Ukraine.”

I will take the liberty of boldfacing other comments that I think are particularly noteworthy:

Mr. [Senate] President, with respect to my colleagues who voted in the other direction on this particular piece of legislation, let me offer some serious concerns about the direction we are headed as a country and about what this vote represents in terms of American readiness; American capacity to defend itself and its allies in the future; and, most importantly, the American leadership’s ability to acknowledge where we really are as a country: our strengths, our weaknesses, what can be built upon, and what must be rebuilt entirely.

I am extraordinarily aware of a couple of historical analogies that should inform this debate, one that seems to always inform debate and another that seems to never come up. Now, opponents of further aid in Ukraine–and I count myself among them–say that this is a Chamberlain vs. Churchill kind of moment. You just heard my distinguished colleague from Delaware make this observation.

With no disrespect to my friend from Delaware (Sen. Tom Carper, D), we need to come up with some different analogies in this Chamber. We need to be able to understand history as not just World War II replaying itself over and over and over again. Vladimir Putin is not Adolf Hitler. It doesn’t mean he is a good guy, but he has significantly less capability than the German leader did in the late 1930s. America is not the America of the late 1930s or the early 1940s. We possess substantially less manufacturing might, in relative terms, than we did almost 100 years ago. And most importantly, there are many ways in which the analogy falls apart even if you ignore America’s capacity, Russia’s capacity, and the like.

There are ways in which we should be looking at other historical analogies, and I would like to point to just a couple of those right now. The Second World War, of course, was the most devastating war, arguably, in the history of the world. Close behind it is the First World War. And what is the lesson of the First World War? It is not that there are always people appeasing the bad guys or fighting against the bad guys. The lesson of World War I is that, if you are not careful, you can blunder yourself into a broader regional conflict that kills tens of millions of people, many of them innocent. In 1914, alliances, politics, and the failure of statesmanship dragged two rival blocs of militaries into a catastrophic conflict.

In the past week alone, the Council on Foreign Relations has published an essay calling for European troops to sustain Ukraine’s lines as Ukraine struggles to raise troops. Some European leaders have said they might send troops to support Ukraine in a conflict.

Perhaps the history lesson we should be teaching ourselves isn’t Chamberlain vs. Churchill. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves how an entire continent, how an entire world’s set of leaders allowed itself to blunder into world conflict.

Is there possibly a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine? Yes, I believe that there is. Indeed, as multiple people–both critics of Vladimir Putin and supporters of Ukraine–have pointed out, there was, in fact, a peace deal on the table approximately 18 months ago. What happened to it? The Biden administration pushed Zelenskyy to set aside the peace agreement and to engage in a disastrous counteroffensive, a counteroffensive that killed tens of thousands of Ukrainians, that depleted an entire decade’s worth of military stocks, and that has left us in the place that we are now, where every single objective observer of the Ukraine war acknowledges today that the war is going worse for Ukraine than it was 18 months ago.

Could we have avoided it? Yes, we could, and we should have avoided it. We would have saved a lot of lives, we would have saved a lot of American weapons, and we would have had this country in a much, much more stable and much better place if we had.

Now, there is another historical analogy that I think is worth pointing out, and that is the historical analogy of the early 2000s. Now, in 2003, I was a high school senior, and I had a political position back then. I believed the propaganda of the George W. Bush administration that we needed to invade Iraq, that it was a war for freedom and democracy, that those who were appeasing Saddam Hussein were inviting a broader regional conflict.

Does that sound familiar to anything that we are hearing today? It is the same exact talking points, 20 years later, with different names. But have we learned anything over the last 20 years? No, I don’t think that we have. We have learned that if we beat our chest instead of engage in diplomacy, that it will somehow produce good outcomes. That is not true. We learned that if we talk incessantly about World War II, we can bully people and cause them to ignore their basic moral impulses and lead the country straight into catastrophic conflict.

Now, as one of the great ironies of my time in the U.S. Senate for the last 18 months, I have been accused by multiple people of being a stooge of Vladimir Putin. Well, I take issue to that because in 2003, yes, I made the mistake of supporting the Iraq war. I also, a couple months later, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, one of two kids from my small block on McKinley Street in Middletown, OH, to enlist in the marines just that year. I served my country honorably, and I saw when I went to Iraq that I had been lied to, that the promises of the foreign policy establishment of this country were a complete joke.

Just a few days ago, we saw our friends in the House waving Ukrainian flags on the floor of the U.S. House–which, I would love to see them waving the American flag with such gusto. And I won’t complain about the fact that it was a violation of the rules of decorum, though it certainly was. But it reminded me–it reminded me–and I believe, 2005, maybe it was 2006–when that same exact Chamber, the Members were raising their fingers, stained with purple ink, to commemorate the incredible Iraqi elections that had happened in 2005.

I was in Iraq for both the constitutional referendum of October of 2005 and the parliamentary elections of December of 2005. And I remember the people in Iraq, happily voting, raising their fingers in the air.

What I am saying is, not that the people of Iraq were bad or that they were bad for voting in their elections, what I am saying is the obsessive focus on moralism–democracy is good, Saddam Hussein is bad; America, good; tyranny, bad–that is no way to run a foreign policy, because then you end up with people waving their fingers on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, even though they have walked their country into a disaster.

And I say this as a proud Republican. I say this as somebody who supports Republican colleagues who agree with me and disagree with me on this issue. It is, perhaps, the most shameful period in the Republican Party’s history of the last 40 years that we supported George W. Bush in the prosecution at military conflict.

Now, my excuse is that I was a high school senior. What is the excuse of many people who were in this Chamber or in the House of Representatives at the time and are now singing the exact same song when it comes to Ukraine?

Have we learned nothing? Have we updated nothing about our mental thinking, about the standard that we apply for when we should get involved in military conflicts? Have we learned nothing about how precarious and precious U.S. life is and other life around the world and that we should be a little bit more careful about protecting it?

Back then, in 2003, we actually had an anti-war left in this country. Now, nobody, really, is anti-war. Nobody is worried about prosecuting military conflicts overseas. Nobody seems to worry about unintended consequences. But Iraq had a lot of unintended consequences–a lot of consequences that were, maybe, foreseen by a few smart people; a lot of them that weren’t foreseen by anybody–one of which is that we gave Iran a regional ally instead of a regional competitor.

Did George W. Bush stand before the American people and say: We are going to invade this country and give one of our strongest enemies in the region a massive regional ally? Did we think that 20 years later, Iraq would become a base to attack American troops in the Middle East? Did we think it would empower one of the most dangerous regimes in that area of the world?

We are now funding Israel, as I think that we should, to defend itself against attacks that are originating in Iran when the same people who are calling for more war all over the world were the same people who caused us to start a war that empowered Iran.

There is a certain irony in this, a certain sadness that I have that we never seem to learn the lessons of the past. We never seem to ask ourselves why it is that we keep on screwing up American foreign policy, why it is that we keep on making our country weaker, even though we say we intend to make it stronger.

Here is another thing that we should learn from the Iraq war, something that I as a Christian care a lot about and I think that even many of my colleagues who are not Christians, many of my fellow Americans who are not Christians, should care about. The United States remains, to this day, the world’s largest majority Christian nation. We are the largest Christian nation by population in the entire world. And yet what are the fruits—“By your fruits ye shall know them,” the Bible tells us. What are the fruits of American foreign policy when it comes to Christian populations all over the world over the last few decades?

Well, in Iraq, before we invaded, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Many of them were ancient communities–Chaldeans, people who trace their lineage and their ancestors to people who knew the literal Apostles of Jesus Christ.

Now, nearly every single one of those historical Christian communities is gone. That is the fruits of American labor in Iraq–a regional ally of Iran and the eradication and decimation of one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.

Is that what we were told was going to happen? Did the American people–the world’s largest majority Christian nation in the world–did they think that is what they were getting themselves into? I certainly didn’t. And I am ashamed that I didn’t, but we did. We did all of those things because we weren’t thinking about how war and conflict lead to unexpected places.

Now, it sounds farfetched, I am sure, when we apply these lessons to the Ukraine conflict. Certainly this has no risk of spilling over into a broader regional or even world conflict. Well, certainly not, in fact. I was being sarcastic. It obviously does. As European allies propose sending troops to fight Vladimir Putin, drawing NATO further into this conflict, yes, the Ukraine war threatens to become a broader regional conflict.

What about the assault on traditional Christian communities? Just today, the Ukrainian parliament is considering enacting a law that would dispossess large numbers of Christian churches and Christian communities in the country of Ukraine.

Now, they say it is because these churches are too close to Russia. That is what they say. And maybe some of the churches are too close to Russia. But you don’t deprive an entire religious community of their religious freedom because some of its adherents don’t agree with you about the relevant conflict of the day.

I believe, standing here, that this war will eventually lead to the displacement of a massive Christian community in Ukraine. And that will be our shame–our shame in this Chamber for not seeing it coming; our shame in this Chamber for doing nothing to stop it; our shame for refusing to use the hundreds of billions of dollars that we send to Ukraine as leverage to ensure and guarantee real religious freedom.

The other thing–one final point on this historical contingency point. It was true then, and it was true today, there is this weird way where the debate in this country has gotten warped, where people can’t engage in good-faith disagreement with our Ukraine policy. You will immediately be attacked for being on the wrong team, for being on the wrong side.

I remember, as a young conservative high schooler, how opponents from the conservative side of the Iraq War: Well, you are just all for Saddam Hussein, and you believe that Saddam Hussein should be allowed to continue to brutalize the Iraqi people; you have no love for these innocent Iraqi people; you don’t believe in America. And the same exact arguments are being applied today, that you are a fan of Vladimir Putin if you don’t like our Ukraine policy, or you are a fan of some terrible tyrannical idea because you think maybe America should be more focused on the border of its own country than on someone else’s.

This war fever, this inability for us to actually process what is going on in our world to make rational decisions is the scariest part of this entire debate.

You see people who served their country, who have been advocating for good public policies–agree or disagree with them–for their entire careers smeared as agents of a foreign government simply because they don’t like what we are doing in Ukraine. That is not good-faith debate; that is slander. And it is the type of slander that is going to lead us to make worse and worse decisions.

It should make us all feel pretty weird when you see your fellow Americans making an argument, and the response to that argument is not: Well, no, no, here is why you are wrong, or, Here is substantively why I disagree with you. But they fling their finger in your face and say: You are a Putin puppet; you are an asset of a foreign regime.

This way of making decisions democratically is how we bankrupt this country and start a third world war. We should stop doing it.

So let me make some arguments for why our Ukraine policy doesn’t make any sense. The first, we do not have the manufacturing base to support a land war in Europe. This must be appreciated. And it is interesting, when I was making this argument that we didn’t have the manufacturing base to support a military conflict in Eastern Europe, to support a military conflict in East Asia, and then also to actually support our own national defense, that America was spread too thin, I was commonly met 18 months ago with a very common rejoinder. I was told that the Ukraine war represented a fraction of a fraction of American GDP, that we could do everything all at once and it would not stress America’s capabilities.

Now, everyone seems to agree with me. Now, everyone seems to acknowledge that we are severely limited, not in the number of dollars that we can send to Ukraine–because there are limits there–but in the number of weapons, of artillery shells and missiles, that we don’t make enough of the critical weapons of war to send them to all four corners of the world and also keep ourselves safe.

But people will say: Well, J.D. is right, we need to rebuild the defense industrial base; we need to rebuild our capacity to manufacture weapons. But now the desire and the need to manufacture more weapons is an argument for the Ukraine conflict instead of an argument against it.

It is interesting how advocates of this conflict always find a new justification when the justification of a few months ago falls apart.

So let’s deal with some very cold, hard facts. Ukrainians have argued publicly–their defense minister has said this–that they require thousands of air defense interceptor missiles every single year in order to keep themselves safe from Russian attack. Do we make thousands? No.

If this supplemental passes, as I expect it will in a few hours, we will go from making about 550 PAC-3 interceptor missiles to about 650. And there are a few other weapons systems that could provide protection in terms of air defense. But Ukraine’s air defenses are being overwhelmed right now because we don’t make enough air defenses. Europe doesn’t make enough air defenses. And, by the way, we are being stretched in multiple different directions.

The Israelis need them to push back against Iranian attacks. The Ukrainians need them to push back against Russian attacks. We may, God forbid, need them. And the Taiwanese would need them if China ever invaded. We don’t make enough air defense weapons and neither do the Europeans. And so rather than stretching ourselves too thin, America should be focused on the task of diplomacy and making it possible for our friends and our allies to do as much as they can but to recognize the limitations and to ensure that we–most of all, our own people in our own country–can look after our own defense.

It is not just air defense missiles. Martin 155mm artillery shells–these are one of the most critical weapons for the land war in Europe, maybe the single most critical weapon for the land war in Europe. The United States makes a fraction of what the Ukrainians need. And if you combine what the United States provides with what the Europeans are able to provide and what other figures are able to provide, we are massively limited in whether we can help Ukraine close the gap it currently has with Russia.

Now, you have heard senior figures in our defense administration say that unless this bill passes–unless this bill passes–the Ukrainians will face a 10-to-1 disadvantage when it comes to critical munitions like artillery–10 to 1.

What gets less headlines is that currently the Ukrainians have a 5-to-1 disadvantage, and there is no credible pathway to give them anything close to parity. And I am not even talking about this year; I am talking about next year too. During a conversation with the senior national security official of the Biden administration, I was told that if the United States radically ramps up production and if the Europeans radically ramp up production, the Ukrainians will have a 4-to-1 disadvantage in artillery by the end of 2025. And that was treated as good news.

You cannot win a land war in Europe with a 4-to-1 disadvantage in artillery, especially when the country that you are going up against has four times the population that you do.

And, of course, the most important resource in war, even in modern war, is not just air defense missiles and is not just artillery shells; the most important resource is human beings. Human beings still fight our wars, as tragic as that is and as much as we wish that it wasn’t true, and Ukraine has a terrible manpower problem too.

The New York Times recently wrote a story about how they had conscripted—perhaps accidentally; I certainly hope so—they conscripted a mentally handicapped person into service in their conflict. They have now dropped the conscription age. And, still, they are engaged in draconian measures to conscript people into this conflict. That says nothing about the fact, by the way, that approximately 600,000 military-age men fled the country.

This war is often compared, as I said earlier, to the UK’s fight against Nazi Germany. In the height of World War II, did a million Brits–over a million Brits leave Britain to avoid being conscripted by the Germans? I highly doubt it. So there is a deep reserve problem–a reserve of weapons, there aren’t enough of them; a reserve of manpower, there aren’t enough men.

This is the problem that Ukraine confronts. I say this not to attack the Ukrainians who have fought admirably—many of them have died defending their country. But if we want to respect the sacrifice of the people who have died in this conflict, we have to deal with reality. And the reality is that the longer that this goes on, the more people will needlessly die, the fewer people will actually be left to rebuild the country of Ukraine, and the less capable Ukraine will be of actually functioning as a country in the future.

But I am not just worried about that; I am not just worried about whether Ukraine can win. I also worry about, as I said earlier, unintended consequences. And now we should spend a little bit of time discussing some more of those.

A few things come from our obsessive focus on Ukraine. No. 1, we have, at multiple levels in this Congress, passed pieces of legislation that deal with Ukraine that attempt to explicitly curtail the diplomacy powers of the next Presidential administration. I know we don’t often talk so directly about politics, and I am sure I disagree with my friends on the other side of the aisle about who the next President should be, but we want to empower the next President, whoever that is, to actually engage in diplomacy, not make it harder to engage in diplomacy.

Multiple provisions of this legislation—but also other legislation this Chamber has passed and I opposed—try explicitly to tie the next President’s hands. Let’s just say that the next President, whoever that might be, decides that he wants to stop the killing and engage in diplomacy. This Chamber will be giving a predicate to impeach that next President for engaging in basic diplomacy. Hard to imagine a more ridiculous judgment on the priorities of American leadership that we are already trying to make it impossible for the next President to engage in any measure of diplomacy. That is not leadership, and that is not toughness; that is a blind adherence to a broken foreign policy consensus, which is unfortunately exactly what we have.

The Ukraine supplemental that is, again, likely to be passed in the next few hours, funds Ukraine’s border while turning a blind eye to the United States own border crisis. The bill includes hundreds of millions that could be used to strengthen Ukrainian border security and support the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. Good for them. I am glad that they care about their own border security.

The supplemental extends benefits for Ukrainian parolees in the United States. It includes $481 million for refugees and interim assistance, which could be used, in part, for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide resettlement assistance to Ukrainians arriving in the United States and also to other organizations that also, because money is fungible, could resettle other migrants from other countries into our country.

So the very same moment that we are supporting the Ukrainians to secure their own border, we are not just ignoring our own border, we are funding [non-government organizations] that will worsen Joe Biden’s migration crisis. It is completely senseless. Yet that is what we are doing.

Let’s talk about something else. This bill includes a provision that is wildly popular called the REPO Act. In short, the REPO Act does something very simple. The REPO Act allows the Treasury Department to seize Russian assets to help them pay for the war. That sounds great. Of course, Russia shouldn’t have invaded Ukraine and, of course, they should have to pay for some of the consequences–all of the consequences–that they have created. But ask yourself, are there unintended consequences that come from seizing tens of billions of dollars from foreign assets? In fact, there are.

A number of economists from across the political spectrum have argued that the REPO Act could potentially make it harder to sell U.S. Treasuries. This is something a lot of Americans don’t care about. I am sure their eyes might glaze over a little bit. But this country is running almost $2 trillion deficits every single year. You ask: Where do those $2 trillion come from? They come from selling Treasury bonds on the open market. That is how we pay for the deficit spending in this country. And what happens when people start to worry that U.S. Treasuries are not a good investment? Well, we have already seen the consequences over the last couple of years. Interest rates go up. Inflation goes up. Home mortgages become more expensive. Are we at least a little bit worried that the bond markets could react negatively to us seizing tens of billions or hundreds of billions of dollars from assets? We should certainly be worried about it because we already can’t afford the deficit spending in this country to begin with. Treasury yield rates are already extraordinarily high. Thanks to the Biden spending programs, they have actually shown a remarkable stubbornness over the last few months.

Here is another unintended consequence. Germany is an important American ally, and it has, by some standards, the fourth or fifth largest economy in the entire world. It is a very, very important country, a very important ally. By the way, it is a beautiful country with beautiful people. But Germany, under the influence of a series of so-called green energy policies, is rapidly deindustrialized.

Germany, by the way, was one of the few countries in the wake of World War II–especially in the seventies, eighties, and nineties–that actually kept its industrial might largely intact. Think about German cars and all the other manufacturing things that come from the country of Germany. Well, Germany is much less powerful in terms of manufacturing today than it was 10 years ago. Why? Because it takes cheap energy to manufacture things. You need cheap energy if you want to manufacture steel. You need cheap energy if you want to manufacture cars. That is one of the reasons, by the way, the manufacturing economy has done so poorly under the Biden administration–because their energy policies don’t make any sense.

But Germany should be told that the United States will not subsidize its ridiculous energy policies and its policies that weaken German manufacturing. We should send a message to the Germans that they have to manufacture their own weapons; they have to field their own army; and they have the priority and they have the responsibility to defend Europe from Vladimir Putin or anyone else.

I ask the question: How many mechanized brigades could the German army field today? By some estimates, the answer is zero; by other estimates, the answer is one. So the fourth most powerful economy in the world is unable to field sufficient mechanized brigades to defend itself from Vladimir Putin. Now, this isn’t five years ago or 10 years ago; this is yesterday. So for three years, the Europeans have told us that Vladimir Putin is an existential threat to Europe, and for three years they have failed to respond as if that were actually true.

Donald Trump famously told European nations they have to spend more on their own defense. He was chastised by Members of this Chamber for having the audacity to suggest Germany should step up and pay for its own defense. Even today, Germany, by some estimates, fails to hit its 2-percent-of-GDP threshold where it is supposed to spend 2 percent of its economy on military. And even if it hits that 2-percent threshold in 2024, it will have hit it barely after, literally, decades of being chastised. Is it fair that the Americans are forced to front this burden? I don’t think that it is.

But I am actually less worried about the fairness and more worried about the signal this sends to Europe. If we keep on carrying a substantial share of the military burden, if we keep on giving the Europeans everything that they want, they are never going to become self-sufficient, and they are never going to produce sufficient weapons so they can defend their own country.

You hear all the time from folks who support endless funding to Ukraine that unless—that unless—we send resources to Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will march all the way to Berlin or Paris. Well, first of all, this don’t make any sense. Vladimir Putin can’t get to western Ukraine; how is he going to get all the way to Paris? Second of all, if Vladimir Putin is a threat to Germany and France, if he is a threat to Berlin and Paris, then they should spend more money on military equipment.

Some of my fellow Americans have been lucky enough to travel to Europe. It is a beautiful place. But one of the things that Europeans often say about Americans is that we have way too many guns and way too little healthcare. One of the reasons why we have less healthcare access than the Europeans do is because we subsidize their military and their defense. If the Europeans were forced to step up and provide for their own security, we could actually take care of some more domestic problems at home. No, too many in this Chamber have decided that we should police the entire world. The American taxpayer be damned.

Let me make one final point here, cognizant I have colleagues who wish to speak.

For 40 years, this country has made, largely, I would say, a bipartisan mistake. It has allowed our manufacturing might to get offshored and to get outsourced, while simultaneously increasing the commitments that we have all over the world. We basically outsourced our ability to manufacture critical weapons while stepping up our responsibilities to police the world. And, of course, if we are going to police the world, then it is American troops who need those weapons.

With one hand, we have weakened our own country; with the other, we have overextended. There is a certain irony that if you look at the voting records and the commitments of this Chamber, the people who have been most aggressive–my colleagues, some of them my friends–who have been most aggressive sending our good manufacturing jobs to China are now the ones who are most aggressive to assert we can police the world.

What are we supposed to police the world with? Our artillery manufacturing, our weapons, our air defense manufacturing, our basic military industrial complex has become incredibly weakened. And this bill, you will hear people say, fixes it. It doesn’t fix it at all. This bill, while it does invest some—and this is a good thing, by the way, it is not all bad—while it does invest some in critical manufacturing of American weapons, it sends those weapons overseas faster than it even replenishes them. This is not a bill to rebuild the defense industrial base; this is a bill to further extend this country.

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