Ukraine to test if Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley and GOP succumb to America First isolationism

For years, Joe Biden told audiences, “This is not your father’s Republican Party.” He is right. And perhaps nothing better illustrates this shift than the party’s waning support for America’s global role as leader of the free world and its support for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Russia’s year-long war with Ukraine is a crucible that will test what tension can be the defining one for the 21st century Republican Party: its traditional internationalism or America First isolationism. Let’s hope it’s the first, for the sake of the nation and the international order.

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Jackie Culms

Jackie Culms brings a critical eye to the national political scene. She has many years of experience in the White House and Congress.

With Democrats in control of the White House and Congress, Republicans could largely stay out of the Ukraine debate. But now they are forced to defend their position on two fronts: the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will have to act on Biden’s almost certain requests for more aid to Ukraine. And in the looming 2024 banner-bearer presidential contest, voters will likely face a choice between isolationists and alternatives.

So far, we’re seeing a mix of Republican messages that suggest intense debate ahead. The loudest voices of late have been retreating from the world stage, even as Biden made his risky move. surprise trip to Kyiv this week to highlight US support for Ukraine.

“Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never!” the president said in a speech at the Polish royal castle the next day.

But as Biden walked down a Kiev street with President Volodymyr Zelensky as air raid sirens blared, former president and current candidate Donald Trump sent out a fundraising email titled “Biden puts Ukraine ahead of America.” Hoping to rummage through the pockets of small donors in his America First corner, Trump claimed it was Biden who was ripping them off: “He loves to send your dollars to protect the borders of other countries, to help the citizens of other countries.”

However, a competing message came from newly announced rival For the Republicans, former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. She said NBC USA should ‘give [Zelensky] what he needs to win. During her campaign speech, she said: “This is not a war for Ukraine; It’s about war on freedom.”

When Haley is the NBC Inquisitor marked that she disagreed with Trump on this, Haley reflexively said that her only difference was with Biden. Like many Republicans, she doesn’t want to tease Trump’s boorish bear. “I don’t hit sideways,” she said, referring to other Republicans.

But this is a debate that Republicans should have.

Even the governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis, the pending presidential candidate, was forced to resign his obsession with culture wars to solve the real war in Ukraine. On Fox & Friends, he is mostly repeated Trump’s “America First” themes and Biden’s allegations. And while DeSantis hasn’t directly objected to continued aid to Ukraine, he appears to be playing down the stakes: “It’s important to note that the fear of Russian infiltration into NATO countries…doesn’t even come close.”

Well, that’s because Russia is bogged down in Ukraine, thanks to the courageous forces of the nation and the help of the West.

Back in 2014, DeSantis, then a militant far-right congressman, was attacked then President Obama for not doing more to arm Ukraine after Russia took over Crimea. “When Putin sees that he can move an inch, he will most likely win a mile,” DeSantis said.

If DeSantis joins the 2024 race, won’t he have to make the same arguments directly to Putin’s beloved former US president? We will watch.

A parallel internal party battle will unfold in Congress. Biden, always optimistic – to the point of delusion? – said in Poland: “Despite all the differences that we have in our Congress on some issues, there is significant agreement regarding support for Ukraine.”

He’s not exactly wrong. Most Republicans in Congress still support Ukraine. To calm the allies, dozens attended annual international security conference in Munich in recent days, and a small group led by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee traveled to Kyiv to meet Tuesday with Zelensky.

However, the numbers do not necessarily predict the future of the House of Representatives. Given the small majority of Republicans, pro-MAGA legislators, America First’s beliefs wield exorbitant influence. All week they’ve been posting on social media and ranting Russia-friendly Fox News This is Biden “shame on the world stage” what he should have visited the southern border P East Palestine, Ohio instead of Kyiv. Eleven Republicans supported the “Ukraine Fatigue” resolution calling for an end to aid.

Fatigue is even more prevalent among party voters, a fact that won’t go unnoticed by garrulous legislators and presidential candidates. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News Pollhalf of Republicans said the US was doing “too much” for Ukraine, compared with 18% who said so at the start of the war.

Ironically, such evidence of skepticism about US internationalism is the fault of the old guard Republicans, who mostly support Ukraine. Strains of isolationism have long spread across America, especially in rural areas and small towns where the Republican Party is now strongest. They strengthened considerably after 9/11, when President George W. Bush’s decision to invade and rebuild Iraq resulted in two decades of loss of American blood and treasure.

Now it’s up to the same Republicans who supported that war to justify a much more legitimate war in Ukraine that really matters to our national security.

Let the debate begin.


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