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What Should U.S. Foreign Policy Prioritize?
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Connor Chung

Dec 14, 2023

Reexamining America's foreign policy priorities in Ukraine in light of other security and economic threats.

The White House has warned it may be unable to continue aid to Ukraine if Congress cannot reach a compromise before the end of the year, with Republicans blocking a new foreign aid package that would secure further military assistance to Kiev. With this recent setback, serious questions around America’s geopolitical priorities are being asked. 

The forestallment of further aid to Ukraine is hardly surprising and underscores a rolling theme in America’s current political landscape: the reevaluation and realignment of global security priorities. The global political climate is tumultuous right now, to say the least. The conflict in Ukraine, Israel’s military operation in Gaza and the Chinese beating their war drums off the coast of Taiwan: conflict and intimidation abound.

The global security architecture that was built by the U.S. after WWII has been in place for nearly 80 years now, and has largely held up under scrutiny; this is changing. The current global order is shifting away from unipolarity and towards multipolarism.

Following the collapse of the USSR, the U.S. had no major rival capable of forcibly altering the status quo, enabling Washington to deploy its vast wealth, resources and technological advantages to every corner of the globe without opposition. 

The geopolitical landscape is far different today than it was 30 years ago. As times change, so too must our priorities. The U.S. is weary of overextending itself as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fighting and funding multiple conflicts is a drain on limited resources. The U.S. must pick and choose its battles wisely.

Israel is of great strategic importance to Washington, constituting a crucial outpost that serves U.S. interests by helping contain Iranian influence in the Middle East and securing the free flow of oil upon which U.S. allies and the global economy at large depend on.   

Of arguably even greater importance is Taiwan, which the U.S. will almost certainly defend by military means if attacked by China. America, alongside the rest of the world, relies heavily on the Taiwanese semiconductor chip industry to supply chips for both household and military use. Defending this small island should be Washington's foremost priority lest the Chinese take control and dismantle the backbone of the U.S. economy. 

Ukraine is of little strategic value to the U.S., other than its role in providing an opportunity to expand Western influence outside of its historical borders and wage a proxy war against that old foe, Russia, at the expense of the very integrity of Ukraine as a nation, which could very well end up a hollowed out rump state after all this is over. 

The tide has turned in the Kremlin’s favor, with Russian forces making slow but steady advances. Kiev is requesting larger weapons systems and in higher quantities than previously allotted if any future offensives are to take place. Considering the return on investment in regard to Ukraine’s highly anticipated counteroffensive, it might be wise to rethink how funds are divvied up in light of more pressing security concerns around the globe.

Ukraine failed to make any substantial headway in breaking Russian defensive lines. Fatigued and short on manpower, arms and perhaps funds too now, Ukraine is facing an uphill battle against a reinvigorated Russia whose economy has shifted to a wartime footing backed by a steady stream of oil revenues and a wave of fresh military personnel. 

Israel is among America’s most important allies, while Taiwan is integral to the health of the U.S. economy and has been a de facto ally for nearly three-quarters of a century now. Unlike the former two, Ukraine is not a historical ally to the United States or its European partners.

In fact, It was never part of Western sphere of influence, but rather that of the Russian empire and then the Soviet Union, both of which developed separately from democracies in Western Europe.

Washington might be wise to cut their losses and reallocate limited funds to areas of strategic importance, such as the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific. These are the areas that harbor significant potential for the destabilization of the global economy if the current security architecture fails, jeopardizing the prosperity and day-to-day wellbeing of every American.

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