Neither J.D. Vance or Marjorie Green represent the majority of Americans

John Herbst, Debra Cagan, Bob McConnell
April 17, 2024

Last week Senator J.D. Vance was published in The New York Times making his defeatist case for not supporting Ukraine.  Were our Founding Fathers to have bought his embarrassing arguments in 1776 they would have abandoned the American Revolution.

But what our Founders and the people of Ukraine have in common – and J.D. Vance does not – is that both lived under and experienced oppressive rule and know that reality, and thus they know what they are fighting for, they know what life is like without freedom.

Vance’s Times piece was only one of many recent pontifications from the junior senator from Ohio. Everyone raises the question—how did the people of Ohio stumble into electing this publicity-seeking lightweight? How could they have elected him to succeed Senator Rob Portman? Talk about dumbing down!

Both Vance and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) run to the media’s klieg lights with the sharpest of elbows, claiming to speak for the majority of voters.  That imagined belief is scary enough in the context of Vance’s firm but ill-informed views. But with Green, a member of the outrageous gang of nine House members who voted against H.Res.149, “Condemning the illegal abduction and forcible transfer of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation,” a vote inexplicable to the overwhelming majority of Americans, she does not represent.

In the New York Post article below, Ambassador John Herbst and Debra Cagan, members of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network, gently but effectively clarify that neither Vance nor Green represents the majority of Americans.

Anti-Ukraine Republicans like J.D. Vance and Marjorie Taylor Greene don’t speak for most voters

John Herbst and Debra Cagan

Senator J.D. Vance and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene are united in the belief that the worst thing America is doing right now is helping Ukraine stand up to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

They claim they speak for the nation.

A new poll proves them wrong.

The survey, conducted for the American Action Network, the advocacy arm of the Congressional Leadership Forum, found that 56% of “traditional Republicans” favor aid to Ukraine, while 56% of Trump-identified Republicans are opposed.

But in battleground districts, 60% of all voters favor Ukraine aid.

Notable too is a large majority of Republican voters in safe red districts understand Russia is a US adversary.

Still it’s worth taking a look at why a portion of the Republican electorate have so turned against defending our allies.

J.D. Vance wrote in The New York Times on Friday that Russia’s “overwhelming” superiority in population (nearly four to one) and ordnance (about five to one that, with the six-months stall in American aid, could grow to 10 to one) means it cannot be defeated in Ukraine.

This is the same dangerous logic that American isolationists voiced after France fell to the Nazis: Germany’s materiel and manpower advantage meant Great Britain was doomed and the US Congress should not pass Lend-Lease.

By this reasoning Israel was doomed in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. George Washington and the Continental Army had no chance in 1775.

Ukraine has already disproved the “Vance thesis.”

The US intelligence community expected the Russians to roll into Kyiv weeks after their 2022 invasion.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive in 2022 achieved major success despite Moscow’s mathematical advantages.

Yet somehow Ukraine keeps having remarkable success in the Black Sea and its campaign against Russian oil refineries.

Putin’s attempt at domination has altered the entire psyche of European and Asian nations, prompting two longtime neutral nations to join NATO.

All these countries are now entering an age of self-defense and weapons production not seen since World War II.

They have woken up to a threat they will not abide be it from Russia, China, Iran or North Korea.

Vance has a point when he calls out the Biden administration for not having a clear objective in this war beyond staying with Ukraine “as long as it takes.”

Our objective in this war should be simply to defeat Russia — to ensure Putin does not establish political control over Ukraine.

Putin’s aim is to reestablish such control across the space of the former Soviet Union.

That is a direct threat to critical American security interests in Europe and beyond.

Stopping Putin in Ukraine is the smart way to defend our interests.

The aid Vance decries amounts to only 4% of our defense budget and with that — and even more aid from Europe — Ukraine has destroyed up to 50% of Russia’s conventional military capability.

The administration must stop self-deterring and send Ukraine the advanced weapons to threaten Russian supply lines to Crimea.

Vance does not reckon with any of this.

Ditching his previous claims that aid to Ukraine is simply a “blank check,” he now argues that since our aid pays for American jobs to build more modern weapons for the US military, it may serve our economic interests but is not necessarily good for our national security.

This is naïve.

Is the senator unaware the Kremlin considers America its principal adversary and is working against us not just in Europe but in the Middle East?

Moscow has been Tehran’s chief enabler for decades.

How is providing more modern weapons to our military not enhancing US security?

Stopping Putin in Ukraine is also the best way to deter Chinese President Xi Jinping from moving on Taiwan.

John Herbst is senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and a former US ambassador to Ukraine and to Uzbekistan. Twitter: @JohnEdHerbst Debra Cagan is senior adviser to the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. She previously held high-level positions at the US Department of State and Department of Defense from the Reagan to Trump administrations.

Co-Founder, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation
Director of External Affairs, Friends of Ukraine Network
The introduction is Mr. McConnell’s and does not necessarily express the views of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation or the Friends of Ukraine Network (FOUN)