A year after the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine, fears about a rapid decline in American support for Kiev have proven clearly wrong. Thanks to Allied unity and a surprisingly mild winter, Western financial and military support was strong. But financial analysts continually remind us that past performance is no guarantee of future results.
People like to support winners. If the expected Russian spring offensive appears successful or the corresponding Ukrainian offensive is uninspiring, expect louder American voices calling for a negotiated solution. The warning signs are already there.
U.S. officials privately express growing fears of a quick resolution to the conflict. As a White House official recently told me, the war could be where it is today by the end of the year. Many Americans know this intuitively: 46% of them do not believe that Russia or Ukraine currently have an advantage in the conflict.
Momentum is important
It is important to recognize the dynamics in public opinion. American support for the Vietnam War declined as the conflict lasted, from six in ten Americans in 1965 to four in ten in 1973.
Likewise, support for the war in Iraq fell from more than seven in ten in 2003 to four in ten in 2008. In Afghanistan, support for the U.S. intervention fell over the course of the war from more than nine in ten in 2002 less than five in 2002. …down from ten in 2021. Remarkably, as American public opinion turned against these wars, support never returned.
Of course, Americans fought and died in these wars, which is not the case in the Ukraine conflict. However, early support for the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan was based on the belief that continued American involvement was justified, otherwise American sons and daughters would have died in vain. With no American lives at stake in Ukraine, only financial and military resources, there is growing caution about wasting money one by one.
Over the past year, the share of Americans who say the United States is doing a lot for Ukraine quadrupled, from 7 percent to 26 percent. The share of people who believe Washington hasn’t done enough has halved, from 49 percent to 17 percent.
The mood surrounding support for Ukraine has become increasingly partisan. In March 2022, nine percent of Republicans and five percent of Democrats said the US was doing too much for Ukraine. In January 2023, 40% of Republicans and just 15% of Democrats complained that Washington was doing too much.
Over the past year, the share of Americans who believe the United States is doing a lot for Ukraine has nearly quadrupled, from 7% to 26%.
This place in America in Ukraine is not safe for life. Less than half (48 percent) and 58 percent of the population in November, down from 58 percent in July, believe Washington should support Ukraine at all times, even if it means American families have to pay higher prices for gas and food. Pro consistently.
A similar percentage, 47 percent – up from 38 percent in July – said the United States should push Ukraine to make peace as quickly as possible so that the cost to American families does not become too high, even if it means Ukraine is in danger of losing. lands.
The partisan divide over Ukraine is being driven largely by Republican political rhetoric during and after the 2022 midterm elections. Current Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said last October: “I think people will stay in the doldrums and not give Ukraine a blank check.” ” “.
Most recently, after Ukrainian President Zelensky’s speech to Congress in December, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, whose vote played a crucial role in McCarthy’s nomination for president, tweeted: “Billions in taxpayer money destroying Ukraine while our country is in the crisis, are…” . The ultimate definition of America.
In January, newly elected Ohio Republican Senator J.D. Vance, a radio station in Cleveland, said it was “ultimately not in our national security interests” to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, even though his constituents in Ohio would build them.
In addition, ten Republican members of the House of Representatives introduced a bill stating that “the United States must end its military and financial assistance to Ukraine and call on all warring parties to reach a peace agreement.”
This month, former President Donald Trump declared: “This war must stop, and it must stop now, and it can be easily done” and “negotiable in 24 hours.” Why worry about continued support for the war when it is about to end?
The path to 2024
With the 2024 U.S. presidential election already underway, Americans’ desire to continue supporting Ukraine may depend on how voters view the Biden administration’s handling of the conflict.
Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to approve of the Biden administration’s response to the Russian invasion (61% vs. 27%). It’s worth noting that men are more likely to support Biden’s efforts than women, and that’s true for older Americans than younger ones.
These gender and age differences do not contribute to the president’s overall approval rating. Overall, women have supported Biden more than men, and younger people tend to be more likely to support Democrats.
As Washington’s support for Ukraine grows in the coming months, opinion data suggests that women and younger Americans may abandon Biden on Ukraine policy and disagree with what he is doing without backing him blame.
However, there is another option. Disagreement among some of Biden’s strongest supporters over the administration’s highly visible policies could begin to erode public support for the president.
As the 2024 election approaches, electoral politics could have a greater impact on U.S. policy in Ukraine, not only as a talking point for Republican politicians but also for some members of the Democratic Party base.
Even if the war appears to be a losing bet or, at best, a frozen conflict, trends over the past year suggest that Americans’ desire for a negotiated settlement is likely to increase.
Not to be forgotten, 30 progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives released a letter in October calling for a “proactive diplomatic push and increased efforts to find a realistic framework for a ceasefire.” Although they quickly retracted their letter, these feelings could resurface depending on developments on the ground in Ukraine.
It is well known that public opinion is fickle. If Kiev appears to be winning the war by the middle of the year, when the Biden administration has to turn to Congress again for money for Ukraine, the majority of the public is likely to support it. His support and enough Republicans will accept a new round of support. .
But even if the war looks like a losing bet or, at best, a frozen conflict, trends over the past year suggest that Americans’ desire for a negotiated settlement is likely to increase. Time is not on the side of Ukraine or transatlantic solidarity.