How much is it worth to you?
On the costs of hamburgers, justice, and defensive materiel
People of goodwill and moral conscience in the United States ought to ask a basic but important question: How much is it worth to us to see a peaceful and just resolution to the invasion of Ukraine?
■ Wars are not without costs, and this one is no different. The State Department says that the US has provided $1.7 billion in "security assistance" (defensive arms and equipment) since the invasion began in February. That's a lot of money -- but not on a per-capita basis. Spread across a population of 332 million, it's just $5.11 per American.
■ We should forever be on guard against overspending on weapons and war. Dwight Eisenhower counseled that "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
■ But Eisenhower didn't shirk from the burden of making the world peaceful. He fought tyranny as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe in World War II, and he went toe-to-toe with it in its Communist form while serving as President.
■ A GoFundMe page led by Mila Kunis has raised almost $36 million for humanitarian relief for Ukrainians. Vastly more will of course be necessary for relief purposes, but it's a good sign that so many people are voluntarily willing to contribute to the effort. Many other charities are raising worthy support, too.
■ But as a mental exercise, we ought to be willing to consider how much it would be worth to subsidize a Ukrainian defensive victory against a barbaric invader. A price will have to be paid, and we are reminded daily of the need for war materiel, and that tab could continue running for a long time -- depending, in part, on whether enough resources are committed now.
■ The more decisive and prompt the defensive victory now, the greater the deterrent against pointless wars in the future. Is a just peace worth more than $5.11 per American? More than $10.22? More than $100? Surely the number is higher than the price of a hamburger. And it must be worth more than a few.
■ Before we become weary of the cost, or congratulate ourselves too much on the $1.7 billion already dispensed, we need to be sure we understand that Ukraine is purchasing in blood, toil, tears and sweat an outcome -- hopefully, a just peace -- that will affect us all.