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Americans discuss US support for Ukraine

Aug 31, 2023


Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, U.S. political and military forces have directed tremendous resources towards Ukraine’s defense. But GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has argued that the U.S. should seek an immediate peace agreement using current lines of control, a proposal that rewards Russia with permanent territorial gains.

In this 35-minute episode of America Speaks, political analyst and pollster Dr. Frank Luntz interviews a group of 15 Iowans at political “ground zero” to assess their opinions on Ukraine, Putin, Zelenskyy, Ramaswamy’s proposal and the outcome of the war.

While was unimaginable just two years ago is a daily story of pain, suffering and struggle. The war between Russia and Ukraine drags on with no end in sight. Despite global condemnation of Russia’s invasion, they continue to pour troops and tanks into Ukrainian soil. Despite 10s of billions of dollars in weapons and other aid from the US and NATO, Ukraine is unable to dislodge the invaders. So where do we stand? And more importantly, what do we think America speaks turned on its microphones to listen to Americans for more than a dozen states as they evaluate the Russian Ukrainian war, and our involvement now and in the future. I’m Dr. Frank Luntz. Let’s listen in. I want to ask you to choose between the issue of China and Taiwan or the issue of Russia and Ukraine, which right now is a greater concern to you, right now, this moment, by show of hands? Who says Russia, Ukraine is a greater concern? Raise your hands 123456789 of you. Okay, so we’re going to start there. What are you afraid of? What are you concerned about? When it comes to Russian Ukraine? It’s 3000 or 4000 miles away?
Why are you afraid of anybody? I look at Ukraine as being basically the breadbasket for part of a good portion of Europe and beyond, you know, they produce a ton of food. They’re basically I’m from the Midwest, and they’re basically like, the Midwest for Europe in terms of what they produce for food. And they also were a huge part of the tech world. And that’s partially why Putin wants them back, because they have a lot of great universities, and a lot of great stuff going on there. And, you know, that’s, there’s a lot of really important stuff going on there. And for all of that, to just be in disarray right now. I mean, that’s impacting not only Ukraine, but multiple other countries. There was always corruption in Ukraine since the end of the Cold War. And before Ukraine was very corrupt country. But I think the question was asked, What are why are we concerned about the war in Ukraine with Russia? Now? I don’t know if that has to do with the corrupt government. To me it has more to do with how aggressive Russia is. And they’re getting away with war crimes there and affecting the rest of the world. And it diminishes our respect, because we are not we haven’t been able to stop it. Yeah. I live. I live in Chicago. So I know a little bit about corruption. But I still would be very upset if a candidate decided that they were going to invade, right. So I mean, I agree with Cecilia, that the issue isn’t necessarily whether the government of Ukraine was, whatever the world’s best government or anything like that. The question is, Is it okay? For Putin to just roll in? Have you listened to the people of Ukraine, they support it, they are willing to put their lives on the line for their country because they had an invader. And if Mexico embedded Texas, we would be fine.
And there is no reason why we should not be supporting Ukraine, the people of Ukraine are fighting for their country. And y’all are going down conspiracy rabbit holes.
I think Solinsky is a is a great leader. He’s fighting for his country and his people. And it isn’t a great sacrifice. But the people of Ukraine do not want to be under Russia. And they would rather die than live under Russian rule. I disagree. I disagree with their freedom, and they’re fighting for it.
And they should use the micro, micro. And then Chris, Michael. And then
zolecki shown immense courage. Most people would have folded like a lawn chair. He stood there and face down the Russian against incredible odds. So nobody’s saying who think Ukraine is winning the war. They’re on the ropes for God’s sake. They need our support, and they’re doing everything they can. And that’s an enormous, you know, you want to just give Ukraine to the Russians. I mean, my God, let’s support this.
So my take on Zelinsky, is that, yeah, again, I’m not making any illusions about corruption in Ukraine. He’s very good at PR. And that’s that my support for you know, the ongoing efforts in Ukraine come purely from a standpoint of how it pertains to US national security interests.
Donya I believe is Alinsky is a great leader. I mean, here’s a man who literally is being
attacked by a superpower who has, you know, tons more soldiers tons more equipment, tons more resources. And he could have hot tailed it out of there at the very beginning of the war. And I think a lot of people don’t understand his background. I mean, he’s ethnically, he’s Jewish. Russian is actually his first language. Ukrainian was actually his second language. English was his third language. And I think he speaks two other languages, or something like that. If you listen to his speeches that he gave here, when he came to the United States, and what speeches he’s given other places, I mean, the man has studied Churchill, he studied other people. He was very eloquent. He very much, you know, knew who he was speaking to who his audience was, and he has done an amazing job. Okay, I want to hear from Susan and Keith.
I think I think Solinsky is great.
I think he had a really tough road in front of him. And I think he’s done very well. The thing is, with Russia is where do they stop? If, you know, if they get there, then they historically, what we’ve seen is more countries are added to their list of places to invade. How long is is Putin going to live? That’s the question, but he obviously is trying to take over and wants everything back that he had, you know, that Russia has had previously. So my concern is, where do we let him stop? So I think we have to support them
in the best way that we can without getting too involved. We’re going to talk about Putin in a moment, Keith, and then William. Okay. So I think the Lenski he’s done. Pretty much an admirable job, if you really think about, he has no political experience, he becomes a wartime president.
So I mean, he, he applied what he knows, which is he’s photogenic. He’s able to be passionate, and so forth. But I don’t give him credit for even being at a stalemate in this war. You’re talking about people who are fighting for their lives. And I think practically all of Europe knows that, that historically, if the overrun Ukraine, Poland is next, Romania is next all these places are next. So I think the Lansky knows that his key of success to even even be even par in this war is to market the value what they’re going to add by having them fight the war before they lose their attrition and get invaded to William and then I’ll be the think as long as he’s doing a good job. He’s holding off Russia as best he can with the resources he has, with the United States help. He’s, you know, working for his people. That’s what a leader should do, in terms of, you know, preventing Russia from making Ukraine, Russia, and, but the whole premiere situation years ago, so they want to, they want the rest of Ukraine. And I think he’s doing an admirable job with our help, and doing the best he can as a leader, I think he’s a good leader, and he has a personal person on camera, which comes from his background in terms of stand up and what have you. And that certainly helps, but that’s neither here nor there. His job is to lead his people from being conquered. I think he’s doing a pretty good job doing that. Kobe, at least, let’s see. So in a great job, I mean, he was thrown into a situation that was very difficult. I mean, as someone mentioned here, like he could have folded like any other person, but in that situation, he stood up for his people. And he did what he had to do as a leader. And that’s what you need. You need a strong leader to stand up to a guy like Putin has Hoon will do whatever he wants. And I think we’ve seen how far he will go to do whatever he wants, he’ll kill He’ll murder, He’ll do whatever he has to do to try to conquer, you know, and that’s something that no one’s going to be able to fight off. Now, how long that will last? That’s to be determined. So here’s what’s interesting. When we started this conversation, the first three minutes about Solinsky was all negative.
And then as I started to ask the quiet ones here, it suddenly turned in the other direction.
Why are those of you who don’t like him so loud? Why are those who like him? So quiet? Mari? Why would the people in support of Zelinsky so quiet? Well, I think it’s because the louder voices are so overwhelming. It’s reflective in society. You have these loud voices that are that just drowned out rational thought and people just get overwhelmed with it you because you can’t prove a negative constantly. I agree more like with any other major political issue in the US Dunning Kruger is in full swing here.
I am in the middle of the road.
ODE actually, I actually do support the efforts in Ukraine. I would like for them to win. I just don’t think that.
Like Keith said, I don’t think that the media is portraying what is actually happening in real time.
I think that they’re portraying what they would like to believe is happening. You would like to believe that Ukraine is leading yes, they’re giving it a valiant effort. And I, you know, that’s an admirable. Zelinsky is a good leader. In my opinion. He’s a strong leader. He’s the face of Ukraine. But I do think that they’re falling behind.
Chris from Pennsylvania, I’m gonna give you the first shot. Vladimir Putin, how do you evaluate him? Well, Vladimir Putin coming into power, which, by the way, he is far and away, the most popular politician in Russia, whether anybody here likes that or not, if you’re not a Russian citizen, your opinion does not count Americans have to learn to let other people in other parts of the world choose their own political leadership. He’s in power because the United States interfered in Russian elections, and pushed the drunkard Boris Yeltsin so that we could steal from their treasury.
There’s gonna reaction among Russian voters strongly were between 60 and 65% of them have voted for Putin to either be prime minister or president in four consecutive elections. Okay. It’s popular for the
British to doing it again. You’re filibustering Sonia.
Thought, I completed a thought.
Okay, if you’re going to talk Putin, the man literally changed their rules in the country, so he could continue rolling. He put a puppet in place to hold his spot.
Whatever role
what, let’s let’s change the constitution so that he could be in power and have as
the hot swap between the presidency and the Prime Ministership, they, they changed they were both elected. They were both elected, they were both elected.
There are people
elections aren’t fair. Okay, I live in Pennsylvania. Do you know how hard it is to get on a ballot in Pennsylvania?
My turn, it was my turn. You know what you asked my people weren’t talking because of the polling puppets like you. It was my turn, let me finish.
Let me finish.
There are many people that are being arrested, incarcerated, disappearing, and Russia simply because they’re saying they don’t agree with a war, or that Putin is wrong. There are lots of things that are happening there. And if you get outside of media from outside of the US, you get into reporting of people that are coming from, you know, behind the lines in Russia, you get into the BBC, you get into other resources, I don’t get my news from just the US you have to get it from multiple places. What I wanted to say about Putin, in addition to what Sonia said, which I agree with, is that he is also overseeing a military that is taking human beings and just throwing them into battle. I mean, initially untrained, but even even now that they’re encouraging them to commit war crimes. I really don’t understand that. The right wing love affair with Vladimir Vladimir Putin, who’s a dictator he’s committing war crimes right and left beliefs and no civil liberties. My God, any left of you.
Let me I don’t I don’t get it. I never understand it. It’s the most hip you know, immense hypocrisy, and just bizarre.
Let’s do a vote here. I want to know what you want the outcome to be. Do you want Ukraine to win? Do you want Russia to win? Or do you want no one to win? We’re going to have that option to how many do you want Russia to win? Raise your hands.
One individual that says a lot. How many of you want no one to win?
123 of you four of you. How many do you want Ukraine to win?
Please explain first OB than Karen.
Then someone who chose nobody. So Erica go to you, OB, then Karen, then Eric.
What do you want is the outcome?
What I want is the outcome. I want to see this war to stop. That’s what the outcome should be. That’s what we want to see. We don’t want to see us war continue. But do I want to see Putin? Defeat a country and kill innocent children? Now? That’s where I stand. Because it’s black and white for me. You know, I don’t want Putin to win. That’s, that’s, that’s what I believe. Maybe it’s different from other people. But where I come from, it’s black and white. I want him to lose. Aaron, what do you want the outcome to be? I want Ukraine to win. I mean, I want the war to end like, you know, I mean, I don’t know that anybody wants it to continue. And I but I think that it’s really important to not let Putin be rewarded
by some kind of negotiated thing where he gets to keep part of it. I don’t think that you can appease
bullies and more criminals.
willy nilly got your hand up. What do you want the outcome to be? Yeah, I want Ukraine to win. I mean, Ukraine deserves the Ukraine. They don’t want to be Russian. They’re not Russian, and they deserve to be Ukraine. And that’s, that’s the bottom line. And I think Putin is a dictator, but he’s a smart person. And he’s, he’s, he’s, he’s dominating right now. So that’s my opinion. Mari, what do you want?
Well, as we used to call Russia, the axis of evil, and I don’t know, when that stopped. If they attacked a sovereign country, when the USSR broke up, all those countries became the room. And we should not be supporting Russia in any manner.
Michael, what do you want?
Yeah, I want Ukraine to defend itself. And it is a sovereign nation. And, you know, Putin just thinks he can roll over? Again, I think his his ambitions are, you know, limitless. And you’ve got to draw a line.
Any What do you want the outcome to be? Like, I tell my students, no one really wins in a fight. You might physically when the someone has to compromise something. So I just want to stop, I don’t think there’s really going to be a winner.
Or what do you want? It’s got to what I want is I want our country to stop bankrupting ourselves to support and possibly an endless war that will never that will never fully stop. It’s akin to what’s going on the middle in the Middle East, there may never be peace in that area.
Sonia, what do you want? I want Putin to be defeated. Because when you look at all of the money that was transferred to the oligarchs, and how all the you know, the oil, money and everything, it’s there’s just so much corruption, you look at the reporters that were kicked out of Russia. I mean, there’s the freedom of speech doesn’t exist. I mean, there’s there’s just no positive there.
I definitely think that Ukraine should win. That’s what I would like to see, wants to be a free country. It was a sovereign country invaded by Russia. And there’s no doubt in my mind, that’s what I want, how that’s going to happen. They need more support from us. They need more support from the United States, more military support. And also, I on the other end of that, there needs to be a big change in Russia with Putin out and that country needs to change. There is a growing segment of the population who opposes us involvement in Ukraine in every way. No troops, no funding, nothing. It’s a minority of the population, but their voices are still quite loud. So I asked our participants if the war continues, at what point should the US say enough is enough? Stop the aid, stop the assistance. Let Russia and Ukraine work it out themselves. And here’s what we heard. Your money is not charity. It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way. I just discussed with President Biden our peace formula 10 points, which should and must be implemented for our joint security guaranteed for decades ahead. I think every American family which cherishes the warmth of its home, and we should the same wars to other people. Go on. Yeah, I’m gonna start with you. Your reaction to Prime Minister’s Alinsky.
I thought it was a great speech.
He gave it in English.
And he, you know, hit on the government, he hit on the American people, he hit on what they’re doing with the money and thanked for it. And you know, that it wasn’t being, you know, taken for granted. And, you know, I thought it was a great speech.
William, I thought it was a good speech, I thought he was thankful for the money that the United States has gotten to the Ukraine so far. But I thought it was also kind of a plea for that the job is not done that he needs more money. And I thought that was actually the main goal of the speech.
I think it’s more or less him,
you know, being being genuine, and thanking us for, you know, supporting, you know, their war efforts, but also at the same time
planting a seed, you know, saying, hey, you know, it’s not done, will more than likely to be back with our persons open. Michael, and then Susan. Yeah. And he made an important point, it’s not charity, the money we’re putting into that conflict is not charity, it’s in our interest, to hold the Russians to strengthen Europe, the entire NATO has gotten stronger and more united. Because of this. It’s willing united, a lot of the world. And it’s not charity, it’s in our interest, and it isn’t investment.
It was internet, Krishna, Virginia, I think that it was a really interesting, from a PR standpoint, to show the connection between the two countries. And that always usually means asking for more.
And they’re gonna need more.
And I guess what we need to figure out is,
you know, how much of a tie we we want to have, I’m all for supporting them financially. But
I’m a little cautious about getting personally involved in the war as far as trips and things.
And then Cecilia, I want to piggyback off what Michael said, and reiterate that, yeah, it’s absolutely not charity, we are getting quite a lot out of this. As far as you know, dollar for dollar. The, the war effort is a very effective way of not necessarily, you know, toppling an adversary, but we’re kneecapping one. And I think he captured that really well, as well as a pretty genuine setting. Thank you later. I mean, it was a speech before Congress to the American people. So that’s what it was designed to be, but overall, positive. Staley, then OB,
I think it was a very good speech. And I think he was very respectful. And the fact that he did thank the American people and the American taxpayer, I thought was something that you don’t often see from foreign leaders. And I thought he was very strong, respectful of us. At the same time, he was definitely saying that he needs us and come the we should stay together, the countries that stand for freedom, and that he’s also it’s an investment in freedom for everyone. Oh,
I thought it was a great speech. I mean, it was definitely a rally was kind of like a rally speech for Ukraine and trying to get Americans to see what’s going on over in Ukraine. And I think he definitely needs the support. And I definitely think, you know, the money that he needs, the finances for this needed in order to defeat this enemy. So that’s that’s kind of how I interpreted the speech.
I want to show you a different point of view. This is from a Republican candidate running for president talking about why we need to take a different approach to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The Russia China alliance is the single greatest threat that the US actually faces today. And we are pushing Russia closer into China’s arms by actually continuing to arm Ukraine. So what I’ve said is that I would negotiate a deal that ends the Ukraine war freeze the current lines of control, yes, that means giving part of the Donbass region to Russia, I would make a hard commitment that NATO never admits Ukraine to NATO. And those seem like unspeakable words in the certainly the Republican donor class. But we get something greater in return, which is that Putin in that case, would have to exit his military partnership with China and remove nuclear weapons from Kaliningrad which border Poland and get the Russian military out of Cuba and Venezuela and the West. This is a deal that Putin should do because he ends up winning he gets things that he doesn’t have today, but it secures American interests to Aaron, then Christian, Virginia and then
Thanks. So I think that the
I think it’s a mistake to
think that Putin can, that anything that Putin agrees to can be believed. And so when you’re dealing with a person who is like that, then making a deal with such a person, I don’t think that that’s productive. I actually,
I’m concerned about Russian, Chinese, you know, military and economic cooperation. I think that that is scary. And I think that the solution to that is not appeasing Putin, because he will take anything that he gets, and he’ll just come right back. I think it was a mistake. I mean, I think it was a mistake that one the Obama administration in the United States didn’t push back harder in 2014. I mean, I whatever. But I think that that setup conditions for now, I think it is deeply unserious for Ramaswamy, to suggest that there is anything the US can do to attempt to decouple the Russia and China, they don’t need our help at, you know, becoming closer friends, that’s going to happen. Either way, they’re naturally aligned on so many different things, that when I, when I see anybody make that statement, I can’t help but think it’s being made in bad faith.
Nice, and then Michael.
Water start on a number one, unless we’re gonna live our oil embargo, that pressure is always going to be China. So many people like to sell oil to somebody unless you separate that economically, that’s not going anywhere. And we don’t have a right to tell Ukrainians what land to get back to Russia to sell a deal there. Fortunately, there’s more is gonna be about attrition, who’s gonna lose more, and they will leave a bad taste in both their mouth. So no one wants to do this again anytime soon.
Michael, and then William? Yeah, I just didn’t, didn’t make any sense to me to throw in the towel and give up, you know, given to Russia. I thought that whole argument wasn’t serious. I agree. And it’s, that’s not the way you deal with China by demonstrate, you know, folding with Russia. I mean, we’ve got to stand up to Russia. And China will think twice about
doing anything, it would, you know, in terms of our alliances, William and, Eric, I think China’s actually, the Chinese situation with Taiwan is actually kind of emboldened by Russia situation with Ukraine. But, you know, obviously, I disagree. What we said, I think, kind of see it through in terms of, you know, my stance is that Ukraine deserves to be Ukraine, and that’s the bottom line and, you know, whatever it costs and how long we’re gonna take, I don’t know if they’re gonna get there or not. But because, you know, Putin is pretty powerful. And Russians, Russia seems to have unlimited resources. And with a potential alliance with China could could present some problems. The war continues, as does our conversation, I then asked a question that every military person wants to know, at what point if any, with the public support sending American troops, and what should be their rules for engagement? So let’s hear what Americans had to say. Okay, let’s say that Joe Biden is listening to this conversation. What advice would you give him on the Russia Ukraine war? Well, I’m gonna start with you. I just I, I’m anti war, but I think it should end as quick as possible. So I would just advise him to continue the funding and potential for two ground troops to defeat Russia. That would be my opinion. So it’s interesting. You want to end it quickly. But you actually support ground troops? Yeah, I think that would end up quickly, to be honest with you, Chris from Virginia,
I would honestly say to keep things at the same rate they’re going putting US troops and spilling us blood is not a great idea. But we are getting an awful lot of value for our own military expertise and our own
interest in you know, again, again, I keep saying it, we’re taking pigs out of the adversary. And they are using difficult adversary. So you think this is good for America and bad for Russia? Absolutely. And the reason why, the reason why is that we have exposed clear weakness in Russian milk in Russian military, everything. I mean, the
attempted maybe maybe not Wagner coup of a couple of weeks ago is a clear indicator that there is a mountain of discord in the country. The fact that Wagner is responsible for the overwhelming majority of casualties in Ukraine, compared to the actual Russian military is another great indicator that they just aren’t nearly as strong as they postured to be strong here. What would you advise Joe Biden right now? I would not be opposed to having like trainers or some type of covert ops going over to help you know, lead the
troops for Ukraine, I wouldn’t be opposed to that I wouldn’t want like, you know, mass US troops going over, I think that would muddy the waters too much. But I think it’s really important for the stability of Europe, that Ukraine does not fall because of the importance of, you know, their agricultural, as well as other, you know, things that they produce. And, you know, they’re really kind of like the,
you know, they were the most modern part of Russia. You know, when everything broke off, that’s partially partially why Putin wants them back. What would be what would you advise President Biden, if you were listening?
Well, I mean, first option, we need to find a diplomatic solution to end this crisis, because the longest war continues, the more bombs are gonna be bombed over the seas, the Kyiv.
It’s just, it’s gonna be an endless war. If we continue to keep funding this war with military aid and stuff, we just need to find a way to bring these two leaders together and find a solution. Because right now, if we keep spending more money like this, we’re just gonna bankrupt ourselves, eventually, I disagree with sending our troops to aid Ukraine and the war. But I also a part of me thinks that it’s necessary. Sonia has made a lot of good points about Ukraine being the breadbasket for Europe. But not only is Ukraine, the breadbasket for Europe. It is also a breadbasket for Africa. So at that point, when you are cutting off, you know, the grain supply, you know, everything that comes out of the Ukraine, you’re going to initiate a humanitarian crisis, which I’m guessing has already sort of started, you know, so I do think that sending troops will,
it will end the war earlier, you know, have we learned a lesson from Vietnam, from Persian Gulf from Afghanistan, we never can win the war. If two people are fighting, we have to find a peace, no matter what kind of peace, we’re going to have
someone attack you and just do nothing.
I mean, you we’ve been fighting for for
a year, two years already. We know why have been fighting to save their country for two years because they were attacked. You don’t just say, tough, get over it. But people can sit down and talk about this right. Now. You can’t sit down with everyone. I don’t think so. How can we pull out Afghanistan like this?
Have we learned a lesson? Yeah, this was never going to end if you fight if you keep fighting, we go to lose all money, or resources. But once
again, the truth is that they need to fight adequately and to end the war they’ve been they haven’t had everything that they’ve made, there have been a lot of constraints on them. My advice to President Biden would be to give Ukraine everything Solinsky everything that he asked for, and also to work more with some other countries, free countries to unite more behind Ukraine and also provide support and supplies. And too, I’m not opposed to sending in covert ops teams to fight on the ground. They’re no big, massive troop invasion. And if there’s anything that can be done to oust Putin, or do anything to him, that would be another thing to do. I want you to realize that you don’t see this kind of discussion anywhere else. I don’t see this kind of passion anywhere else. I’m going to make sure that Americans get to hear all sides of this, all perspectives of this. I don’t want to thank you all very much for this to Ukrainians. What is happening to their country is a crime. to Americans. It’s complicated. The consensus that existed at the beginning of the Russian invasion is weakened, but only slightly. Those in favor of American financial support for Ukraine still outnumber those opposed, but the voices on either side are louder, more passionate and more determined to be heard. And thanks to American speaks, you heard both sides, loud and clear. I’m Dr. Frank Luntz and you’ve been listening to America speaks right here on straight arrow News.

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