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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

MisCONceptions: To be strong abroad, we need to be strong at home

The US cannot support our international allies without also addressing domestic concerns.

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Editor's note: MisCONceptions is a column with four contributors. This article was written by Nicholas Rishi.

The attacks last week in Israel are likely to drag the U.S. into another prolonged proxy war. President Biden has already indicated that the U.S. will provide ‘unwavering’ support for Israeli security. Before Hamas’ attack last week, the U.S. had already provided nearly $3 billion to fund Israel’s iron dome defense system. And with the war in Ukraine still showing no signs of ending soon, it is likely the U.S. will find itself further entangled with allies across the world. A growing number of Americans of various political affiliations have begun to question U.S. foreign aid to Ukraine, arguing the money could be better spent at home, closing our own border, reducing crime and uplifting the U.S. economy. If the U.S. government is serious about confronting threats abroad, it must maintain a united front at home and secure support for foreign aid by tackling the pressing issues that are at the forefront of many Americans’ minds.

The U.S. can indeed maintain strong military support for its allies while also addressing urgent concerns at home. However, the current administration has proven to be largely ineffective at both. A staggering 70% of the country is dissatisfied with America’s efforts to combat crime. It is understandable why many Americans feel neglected by an administration that is willing to sink billions into foreign conflicts while ignoring issues at home. While many international relations students at Tufts (including myself) may believe that the most important issues facing America today are threats abroad, for the vast majority of Americans, these matters are secondary to the difficulties that they see and deal with every day; Ukrainian munitions sales are not a kitchen table issue.

Optics are an inescapable facet of modern democratic politics. In February, while American citizens in East Palestine, Ohio, were grappling with one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history after a train derailment, President Biden was visiting Ukraine to discuss further aid. Many of these residents were looking to the government for support and some were angered to see their president seemingly ignoring their cries for help. At the same time, former President Trump visited the area and bought McDonald’s for locals. It is seemingly innocuous reasons like these that can help explain Trump’s support among the ‘forgotten Americans.’

The truth is that the coming years present a very dangerous challenge to U.S. international security. It is increasingly probable that within a few years, there could be concurrent wars involving American allied partners in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The United States has commitments to these allies and should continue to support them. However, no American president can credibly look in the eyes of an average American citizen living in a border state and explain why the nation is funding the border security of Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, but not that of the U.S. For the country to have a united front abroad, we need evidence of support at home.