By Earle I. Mack

Recent reports of Iran’s involvement in planning Hamas’s barbaric attack on Israel have confirmed our worst fears.

Israel’s 9/11, came on the Jewish Sabbath and ominously the day after the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the last surprise attack on its territory. Despite the progress and the optimism of the Abraham Accords, today Israel finds itself at war and the world has changed dramatically overnight, exploding our perceptions about safety, security and America’s place in the world.

The gravity of the situation cannot be emphasized enough, serving as a stark reminder of the fragility of world peace. Today, two countries, Ukraine and Israel, are battling to secure their existence. These nations stand as beacons of resilience and strength against external threats and aggression. It’s imperative for the U.S. and larger international community to acknowledge the pivotal role they play in shaping global security.

Supporting Ukraine and Israel is not merely an option; it’s a strategic imperative to safeguard global stability and protect American lives and resources. These two nations, facing daunting challenges, serve as crucial bulwarks against wider conflict in their respective regions.

Ukraine’s struggle for sovereignty against Russian aggression is a direct challenge to the principles of international law and territorial integrity. By backing Ukraine, the U.S. reinforces the global norms that underpin peace and security, discouraging further destabilizing actions by revisionist powers. As a former ambassador to Finland, I understand all too well Russia’s desire to reconstitute the borders, influence and glory of the old Soviet Union. We cannot allow that to happen.

Failure to support Ukraine will not only embolden Russia, but it will also send a signal to aggressors like China, Iran and North Korea that they are free to pursue expansionist adventures, leading to even more conflicts and necessitating increased American involvement. First Ukraine and then the Baltics and Moldova, followed by China invading Taiwan; we have seen this movie before and we know how it ends, badly and deadly.

In the Middle East, a strong vibrant Israel is the lynchpin of regional stability. Supporting Israel not only strengthens a steadfast ally but also contributes to deterring conflicts that could engulf the broader region. If Israel were to become vulnerable, it would raise the risk of regional instability, potentially dragging the U.S. into costly and prolonged conflicts.

What the American people need to grasp is that by supporting Ukraine and Israel, the U.S. invests in prevention rather than reaction, safeguarding American resources and weakening our adversaries without risking American military lives. Upholding these alliances bolsters deterrence, which has largely averted major conflicts since World War II. It’s not merely a moral duty but a practical choice to safeguard American interests and sustain global peace. Our efforts weaken Russia, deter China and drain Iran’s resources.

The alternative course, direct American intervention, serves as a somber reminder of historical lessons. Currently, America’s involvement in these conflicts is constrained to financial support, supplying arms, sharing intelligence and displaying our military strength.

However, in our marches of folly in Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq, America lost nearly 400,000 lives and suffered more than 1 million wounded. The sacrifices of these brave people and their families, in conflicts often lacking clear objectives and exit strategies, weigh heavily on our collective memory. If we get entangled in a broader conflict, we will pay with the blood of our young men and women. It would be a grave mistake.

But the toll on America extends beyond dollars, encompassing lost opportunities and diminished prestige. While precise figures vary, these wars cost taxpayers at least $8 trillion in 2023 dollars, diverting resources from critical domestic areas like education, infrastructure and health care. Furthermore, these conflicts have damaged America’s global reputation, straining relationships with both allies and adversaries.

In an era where democracy faces global challenges, such as threats to free and fair elections and authoritarianism, the commitment of nations like Ukraine and Israel to democratic principles serves as a powerful inspiration.

We must stand firmly against those who seek to disrupt peace and stability in the Middle East. In doing so we must come to terms with America’s culpability in these attacks. The Biden administration claims that the release of $6 billion in long-frozen Iranian assets did not find its way directly to the Gaza Strip. But who is fooling whom? It’s high time for the president to assume a true leadership role and cease deluding himself about a $6 billion deal with the devil.

We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. The Biden administration must end negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program and seize this moment as an opportunity for Israel to cut the heart out of it.

At the same time, America must approve additional aid to Ukraine. This continued show of solidarity will send a message to Russia that we will not be distracted and we will not be deterred from securing Ukraine’s freedom.

As Israel sets aside political divisions to form an emergency unity government, it’s time for Republicans in Congress to put an end to their divisive games, which are tarnishing America’s reputation on the global stage.

After Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted as House Speaker earlier this month, last week, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) seemed to have a clear majority on his path toward becoming McCarthy’s replacement. But a small group of holdouts prevented a resolution. He announced he was stepping down from the race on Thursday.

The time for congressional action is now. If the malcontents won’t step aside, McCarthy and a majority of the sane should cut a deal with centrist Democrats to restore order on an emergency basis and let sensibility prevail, even if only temporarily.

These moves will send a resounding message to our friends and foes around the world in defense of democratic ideals and will support the nations that uphold them.

Earle Mack is a former United States ambassador to Finland. He is a partner with the Mack Company, a real estate development and investment firm, and a trustee of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

Read this article from Earle I Mack on The Hill: https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/4254766-supporting-israel-and-ukraine-promotes-stability-across-the-globe/