Former New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch says it is time for the United States to raise the stakes in the Ukraine War, including attacks on civilian infrastructure targets inside Russia. Lynch proposed the aggressive new stance in a Union Leader op-ed published Sunday.
“Asking Ukraine to only be on the defensive, and to focus on cleaning up the carnage which has been inflicted on them, is akin to asking the victims of a bully to fight with two hands tied behind their backs. It can’t be done, and is not responsible,” Lynch wrote.
“We need a new strategy. We, the United States, NATO, and the Ukraine [sic], need to go on the offensive… We need to go right after Russia. Go after their military installations, their energy infrastructure, their transportation facilities, etc. And we have to be 100% in!”
While in office, Lynch was the most popular New Hampshire Democrat in the 21st century thus far, earning high poll numbers and winning an unprecedented four terms as governor, the only Democrat to do so. But his call for America and NATO to attack targets inside Russia — a massive escalation of U.S. involvement that could result in nuclear war — doesn’t appear to have much support in his party or in the country.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has been the most hawkish member of the Granite State’s federal delegation. She is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees. On the anniversary of the Russian invasion, Shaheen restated her support for “providing assistance to Ukraine because we know what happens if Ukraine falls. Putin will not stop in Ukraine and the future of democracies throughout the region will hang in the balance.”
But she has never supported U.S. military action in Russia or boots on the ground in Ukraine.
Shaheen didn’t respond to a request for comment about Lynch’s proposal. Neither did any of the other Democrats in the state’s federal delegation.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly reiterated his opposition to any NATO military action, and his administration has slow-walked weapons to Ukraine in part to avoid taking provocative action. For example, nearly a year ago the U.S. killed a plan for Poland to deliver Russian-made MiGs to Ukraine out of fear it would make NATO’s involvement on behalf of Ukraine too direct. The fighters were eventually delivered.
Today the Biden administration is withholding F-16s from Ukraine, apparently for similar reasons. That makes sending U.S. fighters or missiles into Russia to hit civilian energy and transportation infrastructure highly unlikely.
A recent AP/NORC poll finds support for supplying weapons and funds to Ukraine is waning among Americans. And multiple polls show only about one-third of Americans support sending U.S. troops to Ukraine to help with its defense, much less sending them to fight inside Russia.
New Hampshire GOP state chairman Chris Ager called out Lynch’s statement.
“Not that long ago Democrats were proclaiming Trump was going to start World War III. Now, John Lynch and many other Democrats are actively encouraging the United States to go start one. Their hypocrisy and weak-minded leadership never ceases to amaze.”
During an interview on WMUR Sunday, Rep. Chris Pappas wouldn’t even commit to extended supplies of money and weapons to Ukraine, saying he doesn’t support a “blank check.”
“I have been encouraged by the way the West has stood together. We have strengthened the NATO alliance,” Pappas said. “There has been significant funding that has been approved through Congress that I have supported that has gone to the Ukrainian military to get them the weapon systems they need.
“We should celebrate the resilience of the Ukrainian people. [But] it is not open-ended. It is not a blank check. It has to be informed by what is happening on the ground.”
Lynch concluded his op-ed with a call to action. “I am well aware that this approach will be controversial, and may be dismissed or condemned by the experts. But now is the time to act! Enough is enough!”
How many of his fellow Democrats are willing to join him remains to be seen.