DeSantis has made the GOP primary all about him


ron desantis Not even a declared presidential candidate yet, but his skeptical stance exist ukraine war Means the Republican campaign is already built around him.

Florida’s governor warned this week that the war was merely a “territorial” dispute and not a core U.S. national interest, forcing a response from his potential Republican rival in 2024 — and inviting some worry and confusion condemned by Republican lawmakers.also focus on President Joe Biden’s Billions of dollars in missiles, tanks and ammunition lifelines headed to Kiev have raised the possibility that the war could become a major fault line in the Republican primary and next year’s general election.

In a striking scene on Wednesday, the top U.S. military officer and defense secretary laid out why Americans should care about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attacks, reflecting a sudden dynamism about U.S. policy debate.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and secretary of state lloyd austin Even if DeSantis doesn’t stoke the political debate about Ukraine, they’re likely to defend Biden’s strategy with all his might. But in light of DeSantis’ comments detailing the U.S. case for supporting President Zelensky’s government — a day after a Russian jet shot down a U.S. drone over the Black Sea — — has additional meaning. It came across as a veiled rebuke of a governor who lacked foreign policy experience and offered no specific worldview he might advance in a higher office.

Milley believes that the conflict in Ukraine could not be more important to the interests of the United States and free people around the world.

“This was and remains Russia’s frontal assault on the rules-based international order that has existed for 80 years since the end of World War II,” he told a Pentagon news conference. “Ukraine matters,” Austin added . “It’s not just important for Ukraine or America. It’s important for the world.”

In other words, this is much more than a “territorial” dispute between two neighboring countries.

However, seeing a top general and top civil defense official defend the U.S. involvement is unlikely to quell criticism of U.S. role rights.conservative commentators and leaders like former president donald trump It has long been claimed that there is a cabal of “warmongers” in Washington’s military establishment that has repeatedly mired the United States in foreign countries — and Wednesday’s developments may only reinforce that perception among the radical Republican base. Of course, given civilian control of the military, a new commander-in-chief who wins in 2024 on the platform of halting U.S. aid to Ukraine would be able to abandon Biden’s policies — regardless of the views of senior Pentagon leaders.

The Republican presidential campaign is teasing out political divisions over Ukraine that have come to light in the new Republican-controlled House, where Speaker Kevin McCarthy must deal with pro-Trump lawmakers who oppose further U.S. aid to the country. The divide has spread across the Republican Party, pitting hawkish and establishment internationalists against followers of Trump’s nationalist “America First” approach.

DeSantis, in particular, has prompted Republicans to speak out in the tradition of former President Ronald Reagan, the scourge of the Kremlin. But the Florida governor’s time in the spotlight must have been particularly distressing for Trump, who sees DeSantis as a disloyal protégé considering a run for president.

Controversy over U.S. role in Ukraine sparked only by drone spit this week. Russia claimed the plane violated its self-declared flight rules, but Washington said the incident took place in international waters. Russian ships have arrived at the crash site, two U.S. officials said Wednesday. The Kremlin’s plan to try to salvage the drone in search of an intelligence return could expose Biden on the global stage to fresh criticism from Republican critics who have blasted him for his handling of the recent Chinese spy balloon drama. Pentagon officials, however, said the remote pilot wiped out the drone’s systems as it crashed into the sea, and believe very small pieces of the wreckage were submerged in deep water.

Despite exchanging harsh words over the drone incident, Russia and the United States do appear to want to avoid further escalation that could develop into a direct U.S.-Russia confrontation, long the most dangerous possible outcome of war. But the political repercussions still rippled through Washington. Trump, in particular, is exploiting the nightmare scenario of direct U.S.-Russian conflict as he claims to be the only potential president who can avoid World War III.

All of this feeds into increasingly bitter politics about the war in the US – a factor Moscow and Kiev won’t miss as officials work out a battleground strategy that may depend in part on how US and Western voters will tolerate sticking with Ukraine how long.

DeSantis argued this week in response to a questionnaire from Fox host Tucker Carlson that the war in Ukraine is a distraction from what he sees as real national security priorities, including protecting U.S. borders, military readiness, energy independence and inspections. “Economy, culture” and the military power of the Chinese Communist Party. He called on Biden not to get further “involved in the territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia.”

But Milley, like Austin, did not mention any Republican candidates by name, arguing that the West stood “alongside Ukraine in support of the principles of a rules-based international order, a system that prevents aggression and upholds American values.” freedom and sovereignty. ”

Austin also vigorously defended U.S. support for Ukraine. “It’s about the ability of a country to wake up one day and change the borders of its neighbors and annex their sovereign territories.”

Their comments reflected views among establishment Republicans frustrated with an early shift in the party’s 2024 strategy over Ukraine.

A day after another Republican presidential nominee, Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haleycriticized DeSantis and Trump, who has said he’d quickly end the war if elected again, former vice president Mike Pence Also weighed.

“Well, look, the war that’s going on in Ukraine right now isn’t a territorial dispute. It’s the result of Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression,” Pence said on WGIR radio in New Hampshire, just as he was visiting the Granite State to explore a possible 2024 campaign the day before the event.

The former vice president added: “Russia is trying to redefine international boundaries by force, they did it under the Bush administration, they did it under the Obama administration in Crimea, and now they’re trying to do it again.” He argued The U.S. needs to provide arms with the means to fight, he said, “to prevent the day when Russia enters a country where our sons and daughters in uniform must fight.”

While DeSantis’ comments this week suggested he would be orchestrating a shift in war policy, he did not explicitly rule out future aid to Ukraine. He did make clear, however, that he would not refuse to send equipment, such as U.S.-made F-16 jets, that Ukraine could use to attack Russian territory directly.

The outrage DeSantis has stoked has somewhat missed that nuance, but it does suggest he retains some leeway, even as he seeks to push back against Trump and call for an “America First” approach to the former president’s most loyal supporters. “Populism. The governor’s position also puts him in a good position if public support for the war in Ukraine wanes further next year when the Republican primary and general election campaigns are in full swing.

However, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah warned on Wednesday that the United States needed to honor pledges to ensure Ukraine’s sovereignty. The former Soviet Socialist Republics are not NATO members. But in the agreement that led to Kiev giving up the former Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons, the US, Britain and Russia guaranteed that their territories would not be violated. However, this does not extend to military assurances of direct Western intervention.

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia disagreed with DeSantis that the Ukraine war was a territorial dispute. “I think Putin’s defeat in Ukraine is important to the security of this country. I voted for this effort and will continue to do so,” she told CNN’s Manu Raju.

“The worst thing we can do right now is back off and send a message that we don’t stand firmly behind our allies,” said Sen. Todd Young, a Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. “I can’t imagine what Xi Jinping or the Iranian leadership would think if we took that kind of action.”

But DeSantis did have some support from Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who argues that confronting Russia in Ukraine is not a top U.S. obligation.

“Well, I’d say number one, we’re not the world’s policeman,” Hawley said. “We cannot police every conflict around the world. Second, the situation in Europe should be the main responsibility of the Europeans.”

But the reality is that the fate of the war may ultimately depend on what American voters decide next year. As Republicans eyeing the White House take a stand, they expose their strengths and weaknesses — while also putting pressure on Biden to justify his policies in the coming months.

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