In this Dec. 21, 2022, file photo, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / AP

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Philip Seib is a professor emeritus of journalism and public diplomacy at the University of Southern California. His most recent book is “Information at War: Journalism, Disinformation, and Modern Warfare.” He lives in Blue Hill.

As we approach the anniversary of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration is preparing yet another multi-billion-dollar military aid package to help Ukraine defend itself. But a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in January has found that the American public’s support for Ukraine is diminishing, with 26 percent of respondents saying the United States is “providing too much” aid. Among Republicans, 40 percent agree with this view, as do 15 percent of Democrats. Last March, only 7 percent of respondents to a Pew poll thought the United States was being too generous.

Americans have long found isolationism attractive, at least until intervention becomes unavoidable. Delayed involvement, however, is likely to make a situation worse, as was the case in the late 1930s when Nazi Germany began swallowing its neighbors. Even after France fell in 1940 and Britain stood alone, most Americans remained resistant to Winston Churchill’s pleas for the help needed to sustain Britain.

After his reelection to a third term as president in November 1940, Franklin Roosevelt moved more forcefully to support Britain. As the year drew to a close, Roosevelt, in one of his radio fireside chats, told Americans, “We must be the great arsenal of democracy.” He made the case that failure to fully assume this role would make far more likely the need for the United States to later, with its allies defeated, fight on its own against Germany.

Roosevelt was correct. With the Lend-Lease program and other aid, Roosevelt enabled the United States to wage a proxy war against Adolf Hitler, and the British prevented a German invasion of their homeland. Churchill had told Americans, “Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.”

That is also the message being delivered to Americans today by Ukraine’s president, Volodomyr Zelenskyy.

Vladimir Putin is following Hitler’s game plan. If he were to prevail in Ukraine, he could be expected to launch “special military operations” against Moldova, Georgia and other nearby nations in his attempt to rebuild the Soviet empire. Some of those countries are members of NATO, and the United States is bound by treaty to defend them if they are attacked.

It would be a better world if the billions of dollars being spent on weapons were instead devoted to medical research, education and other such needs. But today’s world does not allow that. The catastrophic failure to halt Hitler’s aggression in the 1930s must not be repeated. And so, America once again must be the arsenal of democracy.