The Washington Post tries to find harm that resulted from the brief hold President Trump placed on aid to Ukraine. However, its reporters acknowledge that the withheld aid did not disrupt Ukrainian military activities.
Undaunted, the Post insists that the delay sowed doubt in Ukraine about America’s commitment to that country. If so, this must not have been a first. President Obama refused to provide lethal military assistance to Ukraine, and congressional Democrats suggested that their support of aid to Ukraine was tied to that country’s willingness to cooperate with Robert Mueller.
The Post notes that Russia has seized on the delay in aid to admonish Ukraine that it should rely on “its neighbors” rather than “seek[ing] its fortunes overseas.” If the government of Ukraine is crazy enough to fall for this line, it doesn’t deserve our support.
In fact, a little bit of doubt about America’s commitment to backing Ukraine might not be the worst thing in the world. The Ukraine experts who have testified before Adam Schiff’s committee all agree that corruption in a major problem in that country, and that combating it should be a priority of President Zelensky’s new government. If the government knows that U.S. aid will flow no matter what, it has less incentive to combat corruption.
The fact that the Ukraine military suffered no harm from the hold on aid doesn’t mean that Trump acted properly. He didn’t, in my view. The military aid was conditioned (for a while) on investigating Joe Biden, his political adversary, not on a broad anti-corruption investigation.
Nonetheless, the fact that the Ukrainian military was not set back by the hold on aid supports a persuasive “no harm, no impeachable foul” defense.