Some of the rhetoric in the debate over Ukraine policy seems wildly disproportionate to actual disagreement on the subject. I don’t know of any Ukraine “hawk” who advocates sending U.S. forces into battle against Russia, if it invades. I don’t know any who advocates admitting Ukraine to NATO in the near future.
The “hawks” want severe sanctions if Russia invades. In addition, they support moving a relatively small number of U.S. troops to nearby countries and supplying Ukraine with arms. They also reject the idea of agreeing to Russia’s demand that America renounce supporting Ukraine’s admission to NATO which, again, isn’t really on the table now.
Reasonable people can disagree on all of these counts. However, even if the hawks get their way (as I think they will), U.S. forces will not be in harm’s way. The funds used for military aid to Ukraine will be a drop in the bucket. Sanctioning Russia won’t harm our economy the way sanctioning China might.
Thus, I wonder whether those who vehemently attack the Ukraine hawks are more worked up about other matters — George W. Bush’s interventionism, the foreign policy establishment generally, the mass influx of immigrants at our southern border — than they are about Ukraine. This seems like a case of displacement.
Take for example the rant of Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a North Carolina Republican. Last week, calling Joe Biden an “inept, geriatric despot,” he attacked the president on the House floor for sending U.S. troops closer to Ukraine. Cawthorn added that the path to American national security “lies in securing our southern border, not the Russia–Ukraine border.”
Cawthorn can pun all he wants about “borders.” The Ukraine issue has nothing to do with illegal immigration from Mexico.
The troops Biden is sending to Eastern Europe aren’t being diverted from our southern border. Biden has no intention of sending the military to Texas. And even if he did, we have enough forces to cover both assignments.
As Carine Hajjar says at NRO, “last time I checked, one domestic crisis didn’t mean the U.S. had to ditch its foreign policy.” Or that our foreign policy should less (or more) interventionist.