For seventy years, the Republican Party and its conservative philosophy has led America in responding to the global challenge of Communism and Russian expansionism. But the invasion of Ukraine has exposed fault lines in the formerly united Republican consensus that we must unite to face and defeat the forces of evil.
Until Pearl Harbor, isolationism was the dominant ideology among Republicans and conservatives. Heeding George Washington’s advice to avoid foreign entanglements and disenchanted with the useless bloodletting of World War I, men like Ohio’s Senator Robert Taft and Michigan’s Arthur Vandenberg blocked US efforts to stop Hitler’s advance through Central Europe.
And after the allied victory in World War II, as the threat of communism arose, the Republican isolationists opposed NATO, disagreed with the Marshall Plan’s funding of European recovery, and warned against the United Nations. When Republicans, led by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, argued that we had to stand firm as Stalin gobbled up Eastern Europe, Taft and Vandenberg turned their backs, arguing that it wasn’t our fight and warning of war.
At the 1952 Republican Convention, the ultimate isolationist — Taft — faced the successful creator of the Western wartime alliance — Eisenhower in a battle for the soul of the Party.
Ike won and the GOP has led the country in standing up to Russia ever since.
But now, a strong isolationist faction is again raising its head, articulated best by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Once again, some Republicans are asking if the invasion of Ukraine is really our fight, questioning Kiev’s commitment to democracy and saying that NATO is provoking Putin.
But Putin’s speech over Russian television at the start of his invasion underscores the global and existential nature of Moscow’s move. The battle now raging in Ukraine is no more about Kiev than Picket’s charge was about control of the town of Gettysburg. It is the opening shot in the new Cold War, yet another attempt to bring America down and hobble the forces of freedom.
Putin told his national Russian TV audience that America was “the global con artist.” He warned that we wanted to equip Ukraine with nuclear weapons to destroy Russia. He said that “nearly everywhere…the United States brought its law and order, this created bloody, unhealing wounds and the curse of international terrorism and extremism.”
He says we are the purveyors of a revisionist culture whose LGBTQ community is seeking to undermine traditional Russian values.
His is no challenge over Ukraine. Putin is going for our jugular, as Hitler did, and we must not let latter-day isolationists pave his path with lame excuses, flimsy justifications and red herring warnings about sending in American troops.
This is a fight for our lives against a global coalition of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran — a new Axis of Evil.
The Grid reports that InoSMI, a branch of state media that translates Western content into Russian, has brought at least eight of Carlson’s monologues and interviews to Russian language viewers this month, a search of its archives shows. “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?,” Carlson asked in one of those monologues in late January. “They’re both foreign countries that don’t care anything about the United States. Kind of strange.”
The Grid reports that “Russian state-owned channel 360 rebroadcast a portion of Carlson’s Feb. 17 monologue in which he mocked news reports that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was expected to begin on Feb. 16, but had not yet occurred. It is clear that Fox News is trying to make fun of this story, the Russian host commented.”
There will always be good patriotic Americans like Tucker Carlson who blindly underestimate the peril Putin poses and seek to paper over his challenge with justifications of his conduct.
But to preach such hearsay from the ultimate conservative pulpit — Fox News — is a textbook example of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
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