Stephen Blank

October 19, 2023

The Hill


Recently Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said Israel is our “single most important ally in the Middle East,” therefore, the House must reconvene and pass the impending aid bill.

Meanwhile, Norman opposes additional aid for Ukraine, saying he would consider a joint spending bill for both countries but would rather see them presented separately.

“I hope it’s not tied together. It doesn’t need to be,” he said.

All this is absolutely true but it raises the following question. On what basis is Israel an ally who deserves whatever aid we can provide while Ukraine, which is widely acknowledged as the “Keystone in the Arch” of European security, is not deserving of aid?

If we say Israel supports and defends U.S. interests in the Middle East, the same argument is absolutely the case for Ukraine in Europe, if not beyond. Many agree that a Russian victory in Ukraine immediately endangers every state in Eastern Europe and perhaps more.

Indeed, the recent Russian bombing of grain export routes is already “edging closer” to NATO members like Romania. Moldova’s government not only formally calls Russia a threat but has announced that Moscow has planned a coup to take power there. Since the U.S. fought two world wars and a Cold War to safeguard European security and establish what President George H.W. Bush called “a Europe whole and free,” there is no doubt that aiding Ukraine to ensure European security continues to be a vital concern.

Second, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, just like Hamas’s aggression against Israel, are genocidal strikes in their avowed intention. In Ukraine, Putin and a slew of Russian officials and commentators, taking their cue from Putin and his 2021 essay on Ukraine, have repeatedly stated that Ukraine is Russia, that it has no right to an independent existence and that efforts to do so represent in fact a betrayal of Russia that justifies this invasion. In Hamas’s case, the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews are cardinal points of its charter and continue to be its raison d’etre.

Third, in both cases, we are witnessing a systematic policy of terrorism towards genocidal objectives. For Hamas, the monstrous terrorism we have just seen and continue to see not only encompasses the mass murder of Israelis and Jews, but it also includes the deaths of Palestinians as it hides behind civilian institutions and buildings and tells them not to leave their homes in the face of an impending invasion.

But in Russia’s case what we have seen and still see is not qualitatively different. Russian forces have carried out mass murders, rapes and the deportation of children to Russia as part of large-scale efforts at ideological “reeducation.” All these actions are hallmarks of Russian imperialism,

dating back to the 15th century, but in modern parlance, they also are acts of genocide and manifestations of deliberate commission of war crimes. The International Criminal Court at the Hague has indicted Putin and other Russians for their obvious crimes against humanity, an indictment that Hamas and its backers richly deserve. So, while with Hamas we are confronting terrorism of the worst kind, in Russia we face state terrorism in all its horror.

Finally, Russia has made clear its support of Hamas by failing to condemn it, to the point where Hamas has publicly thanked it. In other words, the axis of evil is materializing as a fact. Various alignments between Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and its terrorist proteges Hezbollah and Hamas have long been known to international observers, and Russia has long been a principal armorer of Iran who then transfers these weapons to its terrorist proteges.

Norman and his colleagues in Congress who think that aid to Ukraine is unnecessary, not urgent, or even counter to U.S. objectives need to ask themselves why this is the case at a time when the enemies of America and its values are precipitating crises across the globe. Then they need to find a solution to their self-engendered crisis and the failure to provide the constitutionally mandated requirements for which they were elected. The crisis in the House hobbles our ability to govern ourselves at home or defend the nation and provides validation to our enemies’ strictures concerning the decadence of American democracy.

The inability to grasp clearly where U.S. priorities and values lie represents a symptom of the larger illness that now grasps the House if not the country at large. But a failure to understand who our allies are or why they desperately need our support puts them at risk and endangers our vital interests, and that is unforgivable.


Stephen Blank, Ph.D. is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is a former professor of Russian national security studies and national security affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College and a former MacArthur fellow at the U.S. Army War College. Blank is an independent consultant focused on the geopolitics and geostrategy of the former Soviet Union, Russia and Eurasia.