Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Foreign Entanglements

Ron DeSantis is a big seller of his bullying and bazz-fazz here in Florida and some rallies in Iowa (gee, what’s he doing there?), and he finds nodding agreement with his ignorance-based “anti-woke” snake oil among the folks like the two old gaffers I overheard at the diner yesterday morning solving all the world’s problems thanks to two cups of coffee and grits.  As George Burns noted, it’s too bad that the only people who really know how to run the country are driving cabs and cutting hair.  Anyway, Mr. DeSantis was on Tucker Carlson the other night and was asked about Ukraine.

“While the U.S. has many vital national interests — securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness with 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 a statement.

This is at odds with most of the rest of the GOP, but it’s right up Carlson’s — and Trump’s — alley: they’re basically America First isolationists, more worried about starving and desperate brown people trying to cross the Rio Grande on foot than they are about an army with tanks and hyper-sonic missiles invading a sovereign country in Europe.  And he’s also at odds with himself.  In 2015 when he was a back-bencher in Congress, he spoke out against the Obama administration’s “weakness” on supporting Ukraine against the menace of Russia.

“We in the Congress have been urging the president, I’ve been, to provide arms to Ukraine. They want to fight their good fight. They’re not asking us to fight it for them. And the president has steadfastly refused. And I think that that’s a mistake,” DeSantis said in a 2015 radio interview with conservative talk radio host Bill Bennett, which was recently unearthed and reported on by CNN.

What’s changed?  Well, he’s now running for president, and he’s trying to suck up to the base of the party that he thinks will hand him the nomination.

What it really proves is that while he may have been re-elected by a wide margin in Florida (although he basically ran unopposed; sorry, Charlie), that doesn’t endow him with a great deal of insight into foreign policy, and his understanding of geopolitics is limited to what he thinks he needs to say to get on Fox News so he can have a gig when his term is up and he’s in the GOP loser ranks with Scott Walker and Tim Pawlenty.  (Who?  Exactly.)

He also may want to remember that politicians who thought “territorial disputes” were not our business once said the same thing in 1939.  How’d that turn out for Poland, Belgium, and France?