Tuesday, March 14, 2023


I'm sure you know about this:
Defending Ukraine against Russia’s invasion is not a vital U.S. interest, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in a statement to Fox News made public Monday.

“While the U.S. has many vital national interests — securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party — becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis said in response to a questionnaire about the war Fox News reporters posed to several declared and potential Republican presidential candidates.
NBC News says that DeSantis "broke with many in his party Monday." The New York Times says DeSantis "has sharply broken with Republicans who are determined to defend Ukraine against Russia’s invasion." The implication is that most of the party disagrees with DeSantis -- and Donald Trump -- on this subject.

But DeSantis and Trump aren't as out of sync with the party's presidential hopefuls as you'd think.

Questions about Ukraine were posed to quite a few declared and possible Republican presidential candidates. Tucker Carlson posted the responses on Twitter. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem -- a strong contender for the VP slot if Trump is the nominee -- sounded quite similar to the two front-runners:
Q: Is opposing Russia in Ukraine a vital American national strategic interest?

A: “The primary external threat to the United States in Communist China. Our opposition to Russia has heightened this threat for a number of reasons. One, it’s pushing Russia into an alliance with China – meaning Russia may soon draw from China’s large weapon arsenal. Two, we’re weakening our own military by sending weapons to a corrupt country. And three, we’re taking our eyes off the ball and allowing China to put favors in their bank. This should be Europe’s fight, not ours. We should not waste taxpayer dollars at the risk of nuclear war.”
Got that? Ukraine is "a corrupt country." This is "Europe's fight, not ours." To aid Ukraine is to "waste taxpayer dollars."

More from Noem:
Biden has this fantasy that he can do the same kind of thing to Russia that Ronald Reagan did to the Soviet Union; that, somehow, through American military weight, we’re going to bring Putin to his knees. His fantasy is wasting a lot of American money and killing too many people.

... We’ve already over-extended ourselves in our largesse to Ukraine. And the Ukrainian government is not made up of angels – they have a long history of corruption scandals, and recent news indicates that this issue is ongoing.

The federal government is closing in on $200 billion in aid to Ukraine. We haven’t spent that much to protect our border in the last 5 years combined. We must question whether we should prop up a corrupt regime to our own financial detriment.
Texas governor Greg Abbott probably isn't running for president, but he was sent the questionnaire, and he's also a skeptic:
President Biden’s blank check foreign policy in Ukraine has drawn nothing but ridicule and disdain from our adversaries and has diverted funding from essential needs in the United States. Throwing money at Ukraine with no accountability or objective is clearly failing. Worse is that President Biden’s approach to Ukraine has been at the expense of underfunding, or ignoring, priorities at home. Before he sends any more money or assets to Ukraine's border, he must enforce our immigration laws and secure our southern border.
Even Tim Scott, who's clearly supportive of aid to Ukraine, wants to sound like a skeptic:
You have Americans who are frustrated because of the lack of leadership on domestic issues that only exacerbates the situation we see today in Ukraine. Here's where we need the president to lead: what is our nation's vital interest in Ukraine? And it should start with degrading the Russian military is in our vital national interest. In addition to that, we are not going to simply degrade the Russian military. We are gonna have accountability for every single dollar spent. There is no such thing as a blank check. We are going to make sure that there's accountability.
And finally, I want to draw attention to the answer from one of the few declared candidates, Vivek Ramaswamy.

I realize that Ramaswamy is making no headway in the polls. I realize that he's probably running because he thinks a higher profile will make his future business endeavors and polemical books more successful. (His two previous books were Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam and Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence.) I take his candidacy seriously not because I expect him to win a lot of delegates -- I don't think he'll win any -- but because he's a frequent guest on Fox News. Fox and the right-wing plutocrat community undoubtedly want Ramaswamy on the debate stage in the hope that he'll attract votes to the GOP from the growing South Asian population in America. Apart from that, the 37-year-old Ramaswamy is just the kind of youngish finance bro Rupert Murdoch tries to appeal to at Fox and at his New York newspapers. And the fact that Ramaswamy regularly denounces the "climate religion" makes him especially appealing to plutocrats who want America to be yoked to a fossil fuel economy forever.

So what's Ramaswamy's take on Ukraine? Like Noem, he thinks this is Europe's fight, not ours:
The Europeans need to be the main upholders of European security. The Europeans, starting with the Germans, need to do more for themselves. Unfortunately, the Germans chose to ‘go green’ on energy, and so they’re looking to us to shoulder the load on Ukraine, as well as defense in general. We spend close to 4 percent of our GDP on defense, and the Germans spend barely over 1 percent. Ukraine is in their backyard, not ours. If the Germans and other European countries can’t or won’t produce their own energy, they should buy natural gas from Louisiana and Texas—and from Pennsylvania and my home state of Ohio....

Ukraine isn’t in the top five of American foreign policy priorities right now, and yet merely questioning whether the money we’ve spent on the war is being done effectively or perhaps even prolonging the war is seen as disloyal. We get accused by both Democrats and Republicans of being “Putin sympathizers.” The Washington uni-party and defense contractors want this conflict to go on forever; for the sake of the global economy and peace, we should be doing everything we can to end it tomorrow.
There's a widespread belief that the GOP's Ukraine war skeptics are isolationists, but they all call for at least a cold war with China, while Ramaswamy seems ready for war that isn't cold with both China and -- yes, really -- Mexico:
The main thing should be the main thing: focus on China. China wants the Ukraine war to last as long as possible to deplete Western military capacity before invading Taiwan. It’s working: we think we appear stronger by helping Ukraine, but we actually become weaker vis-à-vis China.

We’ve spent 20 years droning people in caves in the Middle East and Central Asia and have little to show for it. We should be taking out the people who have caused the death of more than 100,000 Americans every year–the Mexican drug cartels....

It’s time to secure our border before taking care of someone else’s. This would be an appropriate and morally justified use of military force: secure our southern border and annihilate the drug cartels responsible for countless American deaths on our own soil. We’ve discovered a big problem on our end—the weakness of our industrial base. I’m disturbed by reports that our aid to Ukraine has drained away munitions and other material that we could potentially need for our own defense.

There is opportunity cost in depleting these defense resources–especially in protecting our own soil and border from Mexican cartels or in the case of Communist China.
He's serious. He wants us to be ready for a shooting war with China, and also for a shooting war with Mexico, which makes him sound a lot like Lindsey Graham, Dan Crenshaw, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who've all recently raised the possibility of using the U.S. military in Mexico.

I'm old enough to remember the Reagan presidency and the terms of both George Bushes, so I strongly doubt that the same people who wanted liberals hanged for treason if we didn't want to fight the Contras or go to war with Saddam (twice) now sincerely oppose American interventionism of all kinds. I think they'll eagerly support a war if we oppose it and one of their heroes starts it. Republican Ukraine skeptics invariably bring up the border and China. That leads me to believe that Ramaswamy's pounding of the China and Mexico war drums is a preview of tomorrow's Republicanism today.

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