When it comes to Ukraine aid, there are three types of Congressional Republicans in America:

The first group opposes Ukraine aid for the sole purpose of making President Joe Biden look bad, politically.

The second group is trying to score points with the extreme right in America who actually admire Vladimir Putin as some sort of white Evangelical savior and Trump ally.

The third group of Congressional Republicans is a little more sensible, although their objections are misguided.

For instance, take the argument that Ukraine's aid "needs more oversight."

First, the U.S. has placed guardrails on how Ukraine may use many American weapon systems to prevent escalation. Many of these defensive limitations were established so that Putin couldn't say that the U.S. was directly facilitating strikes on Russian soil.

Personally, I think that's a ridiculous limitation. Russian weapons have been used to kill Americans in every single U.S. conflict going back to the Korean War.

Regardless, I think this shows that the Biden administration is putting serious thought into the consequences of America's actions. Contemplating future consequences of one's actions with intent to avoid recklessly provoking a nuclear power, shows "oversight."

But these conservatives also demand that every piece of military equipment (and ammo) sent to Ukraine be accounted for.

I got news for you, Congress…

The U.S. Department of Defense, perhaps the largest single bureaucracy on the planet, doesn't even count bullets, shells, and missiles in the heat of battle.

Robert Strange McNamara, (great middle name, by the way), was the eighth secretary of defense, serving from 1961 to 1968 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

McNamara was a bean counter who gave Johnson an incremental strategy to win in Vietnam that included gradually ratcheting up force and controlling the "spend" in Vietnam so that Johnson could afford to fund his Great Society program simultaneously.

Unfortunately for Johnson, the North Vietnamese, with Russian help, kept pace with U.S. force until eventually, the U.S. quit.

Exit strategies and infinite games

Which brings us to the title of this piece.

These same conservatives say that the U.S. needs an exit strategy in Ukraine; after all, they argue, we can't fund Ukraine forever…

In the past, America has had to learn some painful lessons about how to extricate itself from war. Our experience in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan has convinced many in the U.S. that every war should include an exit strategy.

I chuckle when I hear that term applied to war because it's the same corpo jargon I was taught in business school during my MBA program in 2011.

Only the most powerful countries on the planet have the hubris to believe they can control war itself — the most complex, destructive, and uncertain activity humans can engage in.

Here's a pro tip for my Gen Z readers, who will one day be leading this country: The best way to get out of a war is to never have started it in the first place.

For countries like Ukraine, who didn't start their war, what's their exit strategy?

Their equation is exceedingly simple: Fight or cease to exist.

Back in the U.S., what these Congresspeople should be asking is not "What's our exit strategy?" but "How will we know when we're done?"

I agree that the Biden administration has not done a great job of communicating our goals in Ukraine.

I wish Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin or Secretary of State Anthony Blinken would address the public on national TV (and TikTok) and say this:

"The United States has provided military aid to Ukraine that amounts to approximately one-tenth of our total annual defense budget.

In return, one of America's most dangerous enemies has sacrificed almost all its existing soldiers and most of its armor.

The courage of the Ukrainian people and the valor of their soldiers and airmen have accomplished all of this without a single American soldier being ordered into battle.

And yet Republicans want to depict this astonishing triumph as a strain on our budget that makes America less safe.

We will discontinue Ukrainian military aid only when Russia withdraws all its forces out of Ukraine and Crimea. Full stop."

For Ukraine and our support, we're now in an infinite game.

A 2019 book, The Infinite Game, by leadership consultant Simon Sinek, explains the concept:

By the way, Simon and I shared a stage at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2016 when we were both presenting to the cadets at the academy's National Character and Leadership Symposium. Back then, he was an up-and-comer with some great business ideas. I was there to give a motivational speech about veteran entrepreneurship.

Taking ideas from James P. Carse's similarly titled book, Finite and Infinite Games, Simon explains that finite games (e.g. chess and football) are played to get to the end of the game and win, while following static rules. Every game has a beginning, middle, and end, and a final winner is distinctly recognizable.

In contrast, infinite games (e.g. business and politics) are played to continue to play rather than to win.

The U.S. mistake in Vietnam was playing to win (the finite game), while the communists were playing to play (the infinite game).

Indeed, one may draw some distinct parallels between Ukraine and the Vietnam War — however, the roles are now reversed.

Russia is playing a finite game: Take Kyiv, fold Ukraine back into Russia, or set up a puppet regime in Kyiv friendly to Moscow.

Ukraine is playing the infinite game — they must fight for as long as it takes to survive.

The U.S. must get on board with this concept — to support Ukraine's existence and punish Russia requires an infinite mindset.

The White House says it has only enough money left for one more aid package, to be announced this week.

Ukraine needs aid now.

So, no, there must be no talk about an "exit strategy" for U.S. interests in Ukraine.

The next time you're at a fancy cocktail party and some smug finance bro asks you about our Ukrainian "exit strategy," say this:

"Middle management business school tropes have no place in discussions of existential survival. Continuing to fund Ukraine is not only the morally right thing to do, but our cost is minuscule compared to the substantial security benefits to us, Europe, and our allies." Then, give them a copy of Sinek's book The Infinite Game.

The Russians are the ones who need an exit strategy.

As long as Russian mothers keep giving over their sons to be sacrificed on the alter of Putin's ego, this war will continue.

As for Ukraine and the West, there can be no "exit" — only victory.

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