After answering a questionnaire about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Ron DeSantis has caused a stir.
Tucker Carlson, a Fox News host, sent an inquiry to all the presumed 2024 Republican presidential contenders asking their opinions on the current war. DeSantis defied the established trend and did not make proclamations about defending democracy, which is clearly not the reason we are in Ukraine. He stated instead that it was not in America’s best interests to get “further involved” in the conflict, which he called a “territorial disagreement.”
Here is Carlson’s Monday evening statement.
“We cannot prioritize intervention in an escalating foreign war over the defense of our own homeland.”
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) March 14, 2023
These grounded, realistic words caused great confusion among the usual suspects. Here are Michael Steele, former chairman of the RNC, and David French, “conservative” David French.
DeSantis actually called Russia’s grotesque, aggressive invasion of a sovereign country a “territorial dispute.”
Now both front-runners for the GOP nomination are weaker on Russian aggression than Joe Biden.
Astonishing. Dangerous. https://t.co/xeaFyGugL8
— David French (@DavidAFrench) March 14, 2023
Is that correct? Is DeSantis willing to bow down to Putin? Let’s take a look at DeSantis’ words to see how they compare with the exaggerated proclamations by the Neoconservatives.
DESANTIS – While the U.S. has many important national interests – securing borders, addressing the military crisis, achieving energy independence and security, and controlling the economic, cultural, and military power of China Communist Party – getting further involved in a territorial dispute with Russia and Ukraine is not one. This conflict is funded by the Biden administration for “as long it takes” without any clear objectives or accountability.
Over $100 billion has already been pledged to Ukraine for military support. At this stage, only about half of the money has been distributed. Why would the US become “further involved” in this conflict? It is obvious that there is no justification for the US to become “further entangled” in the conflict.
Supporting Ukraine as a country in a regional war is a good way to weaken Russian military capabilities. However, the US is directly hurt by any further escalation, in both foreign policy and in the global economy. This “as long it takes” mentality is foolish and childish. It doesn’t realize that war materials and money are finite and that each inch of Ukraine is different. Do we allow Russia to take over Kyiv? While I do not believe so, should we continue to funnel money into Ukraine in order to help them fight for territories that have been disputed ever since 2014? It should be obvious that the answer is no.
DeSantis: Peace should be the goal. The U.S. should not offer assistance that would require the deployment of American troops, or allow Ukraine to engage in offensive actions beyond its borders. F-16s and long-range missiles should be ruled out. These moves could risk explicitly drawing the United States into the conflict, and bringing us closer to a war between the two world’s largest nuclear powers. This risk is unacceptable.
This argument is one I have been using for quite some time. It’s one thing to supply Ukraine with intelligence and defensive weapons in order to hold back the Russians. It’s quite another to move in weapons that have only offensive value, or that the Ukrainians don’t have the command structure and control to use effectively. In a matter of months, Ukrainian pilots will not be able to operate F-16s in a mixed-arms environment. Normal F-16 transition training takes two years. Most of the pilots involved can’t read or understand the manuals. Russia destroyed its fighter jets, which is why Ukraine claims it needs more fighter jets. It would be the same if we sent fourth-generation F-16s into combat.
DeSantis – A policy of “regime changing” in Russia, which is popular among DC foreign policy interventionists, would increase the stakes and make it more likely that nuclear weapons will be used. This policy would not stop the war’s end and create a pro-American Madisonian constitutionalist at the Kremlin. History suggests that Putin’s successor in this hypothetical would be even more brutal. It could be costly to get such a questionable outcome.
DeSantis actually speaks my language. It is dangerous and shortsighted to call for regime changes whenever a foreign leader does anything wrong. Without a detailed analysis of the alternatives, no call for regime changes should be made.
This was best illustrated by the Obama administration’s call to expel Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Both sides of the aisle supported a policy that arm Islamic fundamentalists to overthrow Assad. It led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Even if the attempt had been successful, it would have made the Middle East’s most secular country a sanctuary for Sharia law.
This doesn’t mean that Assad isn’t a dictator, or that he hasn’t done some really horrible things. It means that the world isn’t all black and white. While calling for regime change might make the hawks salivate, it is not the only solution to all problems in the world. Another example is the American-led overthrow of Libya. This country has since fallen into absolute hell and has even been the center of the modern-day slavery trade.
It is not possible to prioritize the defense of our homeland over intervention in an ever-escalating war abroad, especially when tens of thousands of Americans die each year from drug trafficking across our open border. Our weapons arsenals are rapidly diminishing and are critical for our security.
Maybe I am wrong, but this message isn’t lost on Americans. They see chaos all around them. A nuanced view of Ukraine’s conflict does not make one pro-Putin. They are an adult capable of evaluating the best interests of the United States. They may also mean continuing to supply arms to Ukraine. It doesn’t mean that we should continue to refer to the conflict as a world war for democracy, where there is no end in sight.
This should end the absurd, baseless belief that DeSantis was somehow controlled by Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell. Both of these men are strong “all in” on Ukraine. While people are welcome to vote for Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP Nomination, it is not a long-term strategy to just make up things. DeSantis has been the most successful conservative politician in the past 40 years. He is also not a puppet and has proven that repeatedly. This doesn’t mean that you should vote for him. But it does mean that any allegations against him are laughable.