American public support for helping Ukraine in its heroic resistance against Russia’s invasion is flagging, and that’s a damn shame.

While poll results vary, the general trajectory of public support appears to have slid during the year-long conflict as U.S. spending on military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine has climbed to over $100 billion and many Republican legislators have begun opposing further aid, arguing that the money would be better spent at home and siding with Ukraine risks nuclear war with Russia.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll taken in February found that 48% of Americans supported sending weapons to Ukraine, a drop from 60% in May 2022.

In early February, GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz and 10 co-sponsors introduced a “Ukraine Fatigue Resolution” in the House calling on the U.S. to end its military and financial aid to the beleaguered country. On March 7, the Maine House, after acrimonious debate, passed a resolution supporting Ukraine, 87 to 54, with only 12 GOP members voting for it, a significant change from a year earlier when a similar resolution passed the chamber with only two lawmakers opposing it.

Support is likely to be further undermined as Twitter, shorn of content moderation under its new owner Elon Musk, becomes infected with pro-Russian propaganda accounts. One such account has spuriously suggested that Ukrainian aid deprived citizens of East Palestine, Ohio, of government help in the wake of the disastrous Feb. 3 train derailment and toxic chemical leak there: “Biden offers food, water, medicine, shelter, payouts of pension and social services to Ukraine! Ohio first! Offer and deliver to Ohio!”

To my way of thinking, U.S. aid to Ukraine is a no-brainer.


While there a number of regional spoilers around the globe, notably Iran and North Korea, there are only two countries that have the global reach, expansionist ambitions and utter ruthlessness to do us great harm — China and Russia. Both are ruled by autocrats whose control of their societies is so firm and pervasive there are almost no internal curbs on their ability to wage war. Both have already shown their intentions towards us, Russia primarily through its campaign of cyberwarfare and interference with elections, and China by running a massive espionage program, building a large nuclear arsenal, attempting to interdict our naval vessels in international waters in the South China Sea, and flying a spy balloon over the continental U.S.

A similar danger existed in the 1930s, when Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan embarked on aggressive campaigns of empire building. Strong isolationist sentiment in the U.S. prevented Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt from creating alliances with Great Britain, France, China or other countries who stood in the path of aggression. Not until the U.S. fleet was attacked at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 was FDR able to get Congress to declare war on Japan. Even then, fighting Germany remained off the table until Nazi leader Adolf Hitler rashly declared war on the U.S. on Dec. 11, 1941.

By that point, however, Japan had already occupied large swaths of eastern China and northern Indochina, followed shortly after Pearl Harbor by Wake Island, the Philippines, British Malaya, Burma, the Dutch East Indies, New Guinea and a number of Pacific islands, while Germany had overrun, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia, Greece, and big chunks of the Soviet Union and North Africa.

It took nearly four years, the mobilization of 16 million U.S. military personnel, and the deaths of over 400,000 service members to subdue the Axis Powers. An earlier application of our military and economic power, in concert with European and Far Eastern allies, might have stopped Germany and Japan in their tracks.

In Ukraine we have a far more attractive geopolitical scenario. President Volodymyr Zelensky, who may be the most inspired wartime leader since Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill, has only asked us for arms to fight the Russians. Unlike our feckless allies in wars in South Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, he doesn’t press for American boots on the ground. In effect, he’s drawing upon Churchill’s memorable 1941 maxim, “Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”

I was born two years after World War II ended. For my parents and their generation, world war was not an historical event but a fresh and painful memory. My father lost about a dozen family members in the slaughter of Russian Jews that accompanied the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. For me, therefore, the risk of wars of aggression waged by megalomaniacs has always seemed very real, tangible and imminent.


There are many ways we can protect ourselves from jeopardy. Military preparedness is, of course, essential. But smart diplomacy, targeted sanctions, foreign aid and well-chosen alliances are just as important in averting war.

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, it shook America’s foreign policy establishment to its core. However, since Afghanistan was in the Soviet Union’s backyard and remote from us, it made little sense for the U.S. to militarily oppose the invasion. Instead, we made our enemy’s enemy our friend. We provided weapons to the Mujahidin guerrillas fighting the Soviets and bled their army dry for a decade without shedding any of our own soldiers’ blood. Moscow’s invasion of Afghanistan, which ended in fiasco, is widely believed to have been one of the critical factors leading to the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

The same opportunity to humble a dangerous enemy without risking the lives of American soldiers exists in the Ukraine conflict.

Even better, we’re able to support a nation that’s shown extraordinary courage and ingenuity in the face of a barbaric onslaught, while, at the same time, managing to maintain a semblance of democracy and decency.

At $100 billion, it’s cheap at the price.

Elliott Epstein is a trial lawyer with Andrucki & King in Lewiston. His Rearview Mirror column, which has appeared in the Sun Journal for 16 years, analyzes current events in an historical context. He is also the author of “Lucifer’s Child,” a book about the notorious 1984 child murder of Angela Palmer. He may be contacted at

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