Wider US division on aid to Ukraine, Israel amid partisan struggles before election
Published: Dec 06, 2023 11:12 PM
Cartoon:Vitaly Podvitski

Cartoon:Vitaly Podvitski

The US is entangled in deepened partisan divisions as it is running out of aid for Ukraine while facing growing international pressure on the escalating humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip after Israel renewed its offensive. Some experts said on Wednesday that as both wars continue, those crises will not only become a heavy financial burden on Washington but also serve as a tool for partisan struggles as the elections loom. 

A classified briefing for senators on the White House's request for aid for Israel and Ukraine became "heated" on Tuesday local time, with Republican members storming out of the meeting, NBC News reported. 

The briefing, led by the secretaries of defense and state, as well as the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was held behind closed doors to allow all 100 senators to ask questions about the administration's funding request, according to the reports.

But it fell apart, senators from both parties said, after Republicans began asking about the US border. GOP members in both chambers have demanded serious changes to immigration policy to address rising migrant crossings in exchange for passing new aid for Ukraine, NBC News reported. 

White House officials warned on Monday that the US is running out of time and money to help Ukraine, after the Biden administration urged Congress to approve the nearly $106 billion request for funds in October, with Chinese experts believing that this shows that the Ukraine issue has become a tool for domestic politicization in the US, and internal divisions in the country have intensified as the election approaches.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders and released publicly, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young warned the US will run out of funding to send weapons and assistance to Ukraine by the end of this year, adding that this would "kneecap" Ukraine on the battlefield, the AP reported on Tuesday.

According to Reuters, US President Joe Biden's administration in October asked Congress for nearly $106 billion request for funds for the wars in Ukraine, Israel and other security needs, but Republicans who control the House with a slim majority rejected the package.

Some experts believe the main reason is that the Ukrainian issue has become a tool for internal political struggles in the US.

The US' support for Ukraine will not be as timely or generous as it has been in the past, and its aid will continue to decline, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "The Ukrainian issue has become highly politicized within the US, which means that Republicans will use it as a favorable tool to weaken the Democratic Party during elections," he said.

The election year in the US means that all domestic and foreign policy issues are decided based on whether they can benefit one's own party in the elections, rather than being viewed and handled based on the true nature of the matter, Li added. "It is a tragedy for Ukraine in this sense," the expert said.

As funding for Ukraine is running out, the US House of Representatives passed a Republican plan to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel in November, according to Reuters.

Biden's allies in Senate have demanded that Israel limit civilian deaths in Gaza, according to media reports, as Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders said on Tuesday that the Israeli government is waging an "immoral" war and it would be "absolutely irresponsible" to provide an additional $10.1 billion in unconditional military aid, which will allow the Netanyahu government to continue its current military approach.

Niu Xinchun, a research fellow at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Wednesday that in the face of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the renewed Israel-Palestine conflict, the biggest challenge facing the US is not financial, but rather policy-related. 

"The US is currently very passive on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, for on one hand it supports Israel in eliminating Hamas, and on the other hand it faces condemnation from the international public opinion, including within the Democratic Party, due to the humanitarian crisis," Niu said.

While voters remain largely focused on domestic issues and the economy, both wars have forced 2024 candidates to publicly navigate vexing questions about US foreign policy and military posture, with potential consequences to their support, according to media reports. 

"With partisan struggles continuing, their divisions will deepen as the elections begin, and highly politicized issues will make it more difficult for the Biden administration to carry out its foreign policy," Li said.