Why is the Biden administration so committed to the war against Ukraine? It cannot be popular support.
Morning Consult recently conducted a poll that showed few Americans think the U.S. is not supportive enough of Ukraine. It found that just 20% of U.S. citizens believe their country is not doing enough to stop Russia’s invasion. Another poll by Data for Progress, , showed that only 66% of respondents believed Russia’s war on Ukraine was one of the three most pressing issues facing the United States.
The president seems to have a policy of giving the Ukrainians almost everything they want so that they can defeat Russia or negotiate a peace deal from a position where they are strong. It doesn’t matter what you think about that policy. After all, there are very few interests in the country. How did the United States make Ukraine’s future so important in American politics?
The answer lies in Russia and Russia’s continued occupation of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine. However, the special plea of a particular U.S. lobby also played an important role in shaping the administration’s response to Putin’s February invasion.
Foreign lobbies have had a significant influence on this country’s foreign policy since the Second World War. Influential lobbyists who work for the interests of Israelis, Taiwanese and Cubans, Tibetans. Uyghurs as well as expatriate Syrians, Iraqis and many other groups have influenced the direction of U.S. Foreign Policy from time to time.
The Cold War-era Captive Nations Lobby is heavily influential on the Biden administration’s Ukraine policies today. The CNL is a group of ex-Soviet states and east-central European nations that fell under Soviet hegemony in the Cold War. It includes immigrants from the Balts and other parts of western Russia.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, the President of the United States, officially recognized the CNL on July 17, 1959 in a declaration. He declared that the third week of July was “Captive Nations Week” and would continue this designation until “such time freedom and independence shall be achieved for all the world’s captive nations.”
Threety years later, President Obama’s Captive Nations Week declaration in July 2010 stated, in part, that the “journey towards global freedom and democracy sought in 1958 remains unfinished …. America has a special responsibility for bearing witness to those whose voices have been silenced and supporting those who long to exercise their universal rights.”
The President of the United States, Bill Clinton, was responsible for one of the most important victories of the CNL during the post-Cold War period. His decision to expand NATO was made to appeal to the American Rust Belt voters of Polish and Ukrainian descent. Jack F. Matlock served as President Reagan’s ambassador to Soviet Union.
Clinton supported NATO expansion because of domestic politics. I testified before Congress against NATO expansion. I said that it would be a huge mistake and that it must stop before reaching countries like Ukraine or Georgia. That this would be unacceptable for any Russian government and that any expansion of NATO would hinder any chance of Russia’s democracy developing.
Then, as I was leaving that testimony, some observers asked, “Jack! Why are you fighting against it?” I replied, “Because it’s a bad idea.” They replied, “Look, Clinton wants reelected.” He needs Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois. They all have strong East European …” Many had been Reagan Democrats on East-West issues. They insist that NATO [the Ukraine] be expanded to include Poland and then Ukraine. Clinton will need those people to win re-election.
Sign up today
Receive weekly emails to your inbox
It would be easy but a mistake to accuse members of the CNL having “dual loyalty.” However, the situation is much more complex than that. The most prominent members are thought to have “extra-American” concerns. Many prominent lobbyists were born in the U.S. and raised there. However, many of them have served in foreign governments as officials or are married to foreign officials. Others are Russian-born liberal opponents to the Putin regime. Some are linked by ethnicity.
The lobby is made up of foreign-funded think tank that have close ties to Eastern, Central and Central Europe. Several of these have been directly consulted during the crisis. Like other lobbies, the CNL enjoys broad support from the academy and media. It is true that the CNL has the right to promote their position as strongly as the law will permit, just as other well-known, well funded and well-organized foreign lobbyists in Washington.
The Biden administration would show a serious lack of discernment if it viewed the recommendations by the CNL without bias or strictly in the U.S. National Interest.