Ukraine provoked a war inside America

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How Ukraine provoked a war inside America

More and more members of the Republican Party oppose military assistance to Ukraine, writes TNI. According to the author, behind this is a rethinking by the current generation of Republicans of the priorities of US foreign policy. He advises Americans to abandon attempts to interfere in the affairs of another country and worry about their own problems.

Mark Episkopos

The number of Americans who openly speak out categorically against further assistance to Ukraine, although relatively small, has been steadily growing in recent months.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on June 19 that the military conflict in Ukraine could last for years, but the West "should not stop supporting Ukraine, even if it has to pay a high price for military assistance, and this will lead to an increase in energy and food prices."

Nevertheless, public opinion polls show that support for assistance to Ukraine among Americans is gradually weakening as the conflict turns into an uphill battle of attrition, in which the scales are increasingly tipped in favor of Russian forces. The Pew Research Center found that many Americans no longer think that the United States "does not provide enough assistance to Ukraine," and the share of those who believe that Washington provides "too much assistance" increased from 7% to 12% over the period from March to May.

The decline in support for Ukraine has been particularly sharp among Republicans. According to a Morning Consult poll conducted in May, the share of Republican Party voters who say Washington is "doing too much" to stop the Russian special operation in Ukraine more than doubled from 13% to 27% from early March to mid-May. At the same time, the share of those who believe that the United States is "not doing enough" has decreased over the same period from 36% to 25%. According to a YouGov/The Economist poll conducted from mid-March to mid-June, this attitude correlates with the growing conviction of Americans that Ukraine is losing in battles. The share of Americans who believe that Russia will eventually become the winner in the conflict reached the highest level since March and amounted to 29%.

The number of Americans who are categorically opposed to further assistance to Ukraine, although relatively small, has been steadily growing in recent months. This shift was accompanied by a growing number of Republican deputies and candidates in the upcoming congressional elections from the Republican Party, who expressed skepticism about the continued involvement of the United States in the conflict in Ukraine. As a result, there was a kind of avalanche effect: with each subsequent bill in support of Ukraine, more and more Republicans switched to the side of skeptics. This growing dissent culminated with the signing of President Joe Biden's May request for $40 billion in arms and economic assistance to Ukraine, which was opposed by 57 Republicans in the House of Representatives.

What should be remembered as a turning point for modern American foreign policy discourse is that the conservative Heritage Foundation — a longtime apologist for what Frederick Jackson Turner once called "vigorous foreign policy" -surprised both its allies and its opponents alike by taking a stand against the "bloated" bill. At the same time, the Foundation stated that the law suffers from a lack of strategic clarity and an understandable system of supervision.

Senator Rand Paul (Republican from Kentucky), with the support of ten of his Republican colleagues, blocked the accelerated consideration of the bill. "Kiev will become the largest annual recipient of U.S. military aid over the past two decades," Paul said. "This is more than any other country spends on all its military spending... our total assistance to Ukraine will be almost equal to the entire military budget of Russia." Paul sought to adjust the $40 billion aid package by requiring the appointment of an inspector general to oversee how the money is spent. But Paul's proposal was rejected by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican from Kentucky), who joined forces with Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat from New York) to bring the giant bill to an end without any amendments.

But what exactly motivates the opposition to helping Ukraine among some Republicans and GOP candidates?

"The growing chorus of voices on the right inspires opposition to providing Ukraine with the assistance it needs. These sentiments come even from the Heritage Foundation, which is literally shocking," said Melinda Haring, deputy director of the Eurasian Center of the Atlantic Council. — There has long been an "isolationist" wing in the Republican Party that wants to focus on US priorities, pointing to the disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq as evidence of the stupidity of our sovereign ambitions. They are right about Afghanistan and Iraq, but Ukraine's support against Russia's special operation can hardly be attributed to the category of sovereign ambitions," Haring added.

These Republicans in Congress, which include Member of the House of Representatives Thomas Massey (Republican from Kentucky), Josh Hawley (Senator from Missouri), member of the House of Representatives Marjorie Taylor Green (Republican from Georgia), Marsha Blackburn (Senator from Tennessee) and Mike Lee (senator from Utah) they were criticized as "isolationists" and "anti-Ukrainian" detractors within the Republican Party and beyond. "To be honest, there is an isolationist wing in the party that has traditionally existed there," said Michael McCaul, a member of the House of Representatives, in an interview with the Washington Post.

However, others question the use of such labels. "It is absolutely unfair to characterize anti—Ukrainian lawmakers who oppose sending more U.S. taxpayer dollars to Ukraine or want oversight of our assistance to this country to be strengthened," said Will Ruger, former President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to Afghanistan and vice president for political studies at the Charles Koch Institute. — These legislators are pro-American and simply have a different opinion about how best to support the national interests of the United States in this particular case, and how to assess the ratio of returns and costs in such efforts. The accusation of "isolationism" has now and always been just a pejorative insult used against those who have perfectly legitimate reasons to oppose any particular US intervention abroad. This is just an attempt to make it clear to everyone who is the "legitimate voice" here, and to use insults to ostracize the voices of realism and restraint."

The conservative detractors against Ukraine fully take into account a wide range of external and internal problems, which are difficult to reduce to a single set of ideas. Writer and politician J. D. Vance, who just won the primaries in preparation for the Ohio Senate election, has become one of the most vocal conservative supporters of skepticism about Ukraine. "Using American power to do the dirty work for Europe is a pretty stupid idea," Vance said at a conference in Washington in April. — We don't have many people in Washington who are not devoid of reason. I need you to be one of them." Vance's message resonates with some loyal members of the Republican Party who believe that Washington politicians are overly concerned about a distant external conflict at a time when they should focus their primary attention on the numerous crises that have engulfed the lives of the American people. "Some Republicans understand that politics has changed since Trump," said a foreign policy expert familiar with the thinking of Republicans in Congress. — At its core, the mass of Republicans has always been very realistic, but the Republican "superstructure" is still passionate about interventionist ideas. Now the old pre-war (pre-World War I) roots of American Republicanism and anti-interventionism are coming back to life. And we can assume that they are returning forever, especially after the disastrous last thirty years."

Haring said she supports Paul's proposal to appoint an inspector general to oversee the spending of aid to Ukraine, citing observers' growing concern that funds going to Kiev could be misappropriated by local authorities. But there is an opinion among some conservatives in Washington that the proposal to appoint an inspector general and other initiatives to establish spending boundaries in Ukraine do not sufficiently solve the deep long-term problems of US foreign policy. "It would just add an additional level of bureaucracy," the foreign policy expert said, noting that the creation of divisions and specialized commissions in the State Department and the Pentagon over time would only push US foreign policy in a more "interventionist" direction.

The Ukrainian conflict has become a rallying point for the growing wing of the conservative movement, which advocates a commitment to realism and restraint. In a broad sense, this position can be defined as a line according to which Washington should abandon the ideas of "liberal global universalism" in favor of a foreign policy based on realistic thinking. "Realism and restraint are much stronger now than last time, when in the 90s we saw the timid shoots of Republican opposition to American primacy in the world. However, these sprouts did not last after September 11, 2001. A large number of ideas are circulating within this paradigm, and approaches to realism have become more elaborated and organized even among the right," Ruger said.

For these deputies and candidates from the Republican Party, the importance of realism and restraint goes far beyond the immediate conflict unfolding in Ukraine. "I think this opposition is connected not only with those legislators who wear green blindfolds or worry about escalating tensions in relations with nuclear Russia," Ruger said. — We are also talking about a growing bloc of Republican politicians who openly question the hackneyed cliches of the current establishment and rethink US foreign policy in a broader sense, meaning greater realism. Of course, in a sense, we are talking about a specific case with Ukraine, about how we got into this difficult situation, and about how our involvement in it correlates with our interests. But in another sense, we are talking about something broader and how particular cases fit into it."

The faction of realism and restraint in the Republican Party is best perceived not as a specific party platform, but as a loose coalition organized around common views on America's place in the changing world order. "Although this group is not united in everything, especially with regard to the rise of China, they have different assumptions and views on the nature of the emerging world and the proper role of America in it than many, often older, of their colleagues. Ruger said. — They no longer reflexively think of our allies as "sacred cows", as Joe Biden and even many Republicans do. They don't think so idealistic and Manichean(Manichaean delirium is a mental illness that often manifests itself in megalomania. — Approx. InoSMI.), as we have seen with many Democrats and many Republicans of the Bush era. They see the threats facing us differently."

In this regard, sketches of the portrait of the younger generation of conservative politicians who were not directly shaped by the experience of the Cold War and, thus, not in the same way as the old party members are committed to preserving what Charles Krauthammer called in 1990 the "unipolar moment". By this he meant a relatively short period of time immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the United States existed on the planet as the undisputed and only world superpower. This nascent movement views that "unipolar moment" not as an ideal situation that needs to be preserved and prolonged forever, but as a period of transition to a multipolar world that requires new strategic approaches and a critical rethinking of some orthodox views of the 20th century. "You know, I think there are a lot of, let's say, inherited ideas about NATO and what it is," Hawley said in a February interview with Tucker Carlson of Fox News. — But here's the point — we have to tell our NATO allies that they need to do more for their own protection, and Ukraine is a perfect example of that... We must focus on China and the threat it poses to our security. The United States cannot do absolutely everything. This is the real partnership. This is exactly what we should be telling our allies."

Despite the continued decline in public support for the continuation of military assistance to Kiev, skeptics about Ukraine among Republicans still have to fight an uphill battle in this direction within their party. "Most of the Republican leadership remains committed to the already failed consensus, together with the lobbyists of the military-industrial complex and the greatly inflated Pentagon. Bureaucracy has its own kinetics," the foreign policy expert said. — There is only one way to defeat the interventionist superstructure — through the ballot box. Of course, there will be many constraining factors in the elections, but something more must happen in the country, which will lead to a battle with lobbyists and bureaucracy insisting on an interventionist foreign policy."

It seems obvious that Ukraine has provoked a war inside America as well.

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