On the way to Washington
On the cost of pet food, Churchill's fondness for visiting Washington, and the pending summit between Presidents Biden and Zelenskyy
Only days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill was on the way to Washington, DC, for a summit meeting with Franklin Roosevelt. The United Kingdom was already deeply engaged in battle with Germany, but it was obvious to Churchill that coordinating with the United States was the essential way to ensure victory. It didn't hurt his cause nor his political stature to be seen, confident and determined, with American power at his side.
■ Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is reported to be en route to Washington for his own momentous summit meeting with an American President. His country has been fighting back an unprovoked Russian invasion, shockingly barbaric in its execution. Russian troops have murdered children, tortured civilians, and booby-trapped the grounds from which they have retreated.
■ Churchill was 67 years old when he came to Washington. Zelenskyy is only 44. But, unlike Churchill, he has been leading a ground war in Europe on his country's own territory. The struggle has visibly aged him, yet he has persisted in demonstrating great personal courage in the face of risk, like visiting troops right up by the front.
■ Zelenskyy is heading to Washington at a time when Congress is considering $44.9 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine. That's about $135 per American. Considering what it represents -- a subsidy to support a global order based upon rules, self-determination, and non-aggression -- $135 per person seems like comparatively little. Ukraine's demonstrated capability to learn and adapt makes it a model case for demonstrating what a determined self-defense can look like.
■ It is likely that Ukraine's president will ask for even more. (Churchill certainly did in his time.) And even though the United States has already vastly out-contributed any other country, we shouldn't be stingy if asked again.
■ The more conclusively Ukraine can achieve victory as defined on its own terms, and the more painful and costly it can make an unprovoked invasion, the better for future deterrence. Americans will spend $50 billion just on pet food this year -- an amount even greater than the aid package under debate. It's not merely that the lives of Ukrainians are worth more than that (which they are).
■ It's that the more they can purchase their own freedom and long-term security with the help of global aid, using munitions rather than blood, the more firmly their efforts will discourage aggressions in the future. President Zelenskyy shouldn't have to ask too hard for assistance when it is plainly in America's interest to see his country secure the peace.
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