A Loud G.O.P. Minority Pledges to Make Trouble on Ukraine Military Aid

Robert Draper

Fri, May 19, 2023

Hawkish senior Republicans aside, there is evidence to suggest that the anti-Ukraine flank of the party is playing not to the fringe but to the heart of its base.

WASHINGTON — A congressional delegation of five Republicans and two Democrats met with representatives of Ukraine’s parliament this month in Poland, where the Ukrainians thanked the delegation for U.S. aid and asked for F-16 fighter jets to help in the war against Russia. Three members of the delegation described the meeting as cordial and informative.

One left the session in a state of indignation.

“I just got back from meeting with the Ukrainian Parliament in Poland, where they demanded F-35s and thought it was an obligation for every American to pay $10 a month to fund their war,” first-term conservative Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., wrote in a heated email to this reporter three days later. Ukrainians are not asking for the more advanced and expensive F-35s, but regardless, Luna said the U.S.’ role in the conflict could “potentially start WWIII.”

Ukraine ranked low on her constituents’ concerns, she added, vowing to brief her colleagues about the encounter.

Luna is among the boisterous proponents in Congress of former President Donald Trump’s “America first” worldview that regards financial commitments overseas with extreme skepticism. Like Trump, they maintain that every dollar spent on Ukraine — and there has been $113 billion for the war so far — is a dubious investment of taxpayer money that could have been better used on domestic priorities, like fighting the spread of fentanyl. Senior Republicans who support the war and maintain the hawkish traditions of the establishment GOP fear the movement will gain momentum as the conflict grinds on and Trump’s candidacy consumes the 2024 spotlight.

For the moment, America’s commitment to Ukraine seems resilient. President Joe Biden announced an additional $1.2 billion in military aid last week. Ukraine funding has gone unmentioned in the $4.5 trillion in spending cuts House Republicans are demanding in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. A House resolution introduced in February by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., aimed at halting further aid to Ukraine attracted only Luna and nine other signatories among the chamber’s 222 Republicans.

An amendment by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., to establish a special inspector general to oversee Ukraine-related expenditures drew 26 supporters among 49 Republican senators. And one week before Luna met with the Ukrainians, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who previously declared that Ukraine would not receive a “blank check” from the United States, emphatically told a Russian reporter that “we will continue to support” Ukraine in the war effort.

But there is evidence to suggest that the anti-Ukraine flank of the Republican Party is playing not to the fringe but to the heart of the party’s base. A survey last month of registered voters by Kristen Soltis Anderson’s Echelon Insights found that 52% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents do not think U.S. interests are at stake in Ukraine. Similarly, a survey in March conducted by Axios/Ipsos found that 57% of Republicans opposed providing weapons and financial support to Ukraine.

“It’s insane that so few Republican members are willing to say what I’m willing to say,” Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio and a vocal opponent of aid to Ukraine, said in a recent interview. “Clearly, something is broken down about the democratic opinion-making process.”

He added, “I’d love to hear McCarthy be more skeptical of aiding Ukraine, because I think that’s where most of his voters are.”

Vance said his opposition to aiding Ukraine came from enlisting at 18 as a Marine in the Iraq War. “I feel this deep sense of shame and regret for having gotten caught up in all of the social pressure to support the war and to think that it would have led to a good outcome,” he said.

When Trump denounced the war as a presidential candidate in 2015, Vance recalled that “I wanted to stand up and cry, because I was so happy that somebody finally said it.”

Gaetz, whose conservative district includes an Air Force base and a naval air station, said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had devastated his community. “I saw the impact up close,” he said, “and I came to the view that this just isn’t worth it.”

Gaetz said that his party’s dominant foreign policy ideology for the past three decades, neoconservatism, “has done our country harm.”

Hawley echoed Gaetz and said that the legacy of neoconservatism, an interventionist foreign policy, continued to pervade Republicans’ policymaking approach. “My party took a serious wrong turn in the 1990s,” Hawley said. “And in D.C., you still see strong remnants of that thinking when it comes to Ukraine. But that’s not where the voters are.”

But some well-known Democratic anti-war voices reject the parallel between invading Afghanistan and Iraq and lending military assistance to Ukraine. Among them is Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., whom Gaetz now describes as a “folk hero” for casting the lone vote against authorizing President George W. Bush to use military force after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Lee, who received death threats after that vote, said that in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, “we see a dictatorship invading a democracy. And we need to be on the side of democracy. Whenever you see innocent people being killed by a war criminal, you want to do what you can to support them.”

Lee declined to ascribe a motive for the dovishness in the GOP, but other Democrats did not.

“If you look at where the political energy is within the Republican Party right now, I’d say it’s with what I call the Tucker Carlson/Viktor Orban/Donald Trump wing of the party,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, referring to the bombastic former Fox News host and the autocratic prime minister of Hungary. “And among that group, there are some very influential voices, starting with Trump, who believe that the idea of ‘America first’ translates into America retreating from the rest of the world.”

Gaetz insisted that he and the other opponents of Ukraine aid were not isolationists, citing their hard-line rhetoric against China as evidence. “I don’t want my grandchildren speaking Mandarin,” he said. At the same time, he added, “I think that it’s preposterous to lash the future of the United States of America to the future of Ukraine. Quality of life doesn’t fundamentally change for my constituents based on which guy in a track suit runs Crimea.”

Other Democrats said the anti-Ukraine sentiments of Gaetz and other Republicans on the Hill were transparently attributable to the party’s dominant voice. “I just think these guys are with Trump,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. and a House manager in Trump’s impeachment trial, which centered on his phone call strong-arming President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine over military aid.

“I think Trump has made clear that he supports Putin and other authoritarian leaders,” Lofgren said, referring to a recent CNN town hall with Trump. “You saw how he refused to say he wants Ukraine to win the war.”

Vance insisted that the Republican opposition to aiding Ukraine was not fueled by fealty to Trump. Still, he acknowledged that his party had left itself open to some cynical interpretations, saying, “We do lack a sort of coherent strategic view of what American foreign policy should be.”

It was also true, Vance added, that “some of my more Ukraine-skeptical colleagues will say things like, ‘They impeached Trump over a phone call.’ There is a recognition, at least from my side, that domestic politics drives the way that we respond to this stuff.”

The political currents are already evident among some pro-Ukraine Republicans, if only by inference. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas and chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement to The New York Times that while members in his party “largely support” assisting Ukraine, “continued support goes hand in hand with increased oversight.” (In an interview, Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio and chair of the Intelligence Committee, seemed to suggest that such scrutiny of the Ukrainian funding was unwarranted, saying, “I can tell you we have full accounting of all the military aid to Ukraine.”)

So far, defying the Republican base by supporting aid to Ukraine does not appear to be politically detrimental to the party’s incumbents.

“Not at this time,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a vociferous foe of assisting Ukraine and a Trump loyalist. “But I’ll be speaking at many of the Trump rallies, and you can bet that I’ll be heavily messaging against the war in Ukraine and anyone who’s funding it. And I guarantee you that’s going to be moving the needle.”

c.2023 The New York Times Company


  1. “Not at this time,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a vociferous foe of assisting Ukraine and a Trump loyalist. “But I’ll be speaking at many of the Trump rallies, and you can bet that I’ll be heavily messaging against the war in Ukraine and anyone who’s funding it. And I guarantee you that’s going to be moving the needle.”

    I’m inclined to believe this genocide-loving skank; the US analogue of Zakharova.
    Last year, there was a BBC radio documentary about then front runner DeSantis. A Republican strategist stated that their private polling suggested that 5% of the GOP voter base was “rooting” (to use Tucker Carlson’s infamous phrase) for a Putler victory. These people can be seen in the comments pages of Breitbart and the Mail Online in vast numbers, spewing foul anti-Zelensky/anti-Ukraine hate and lies.
    5% means over 3m people; a disturbing number, which judging from this article is actually increasing.
    The threat these people pose to Ukraine is such that it has become absolutely vital for Ukraine to achieve total victory this year.

  2. I saw a report this morning on NTD News, and another on Daily Wire, about how an accounting error meant that the United States had over-valued the aid it sent to Ukraine. It’s late evening here, and I’m very tired, but I think the error was around Three billion dollars extra. It was described that because of this, Ukraine could actually ask for MORE military aid, to the amount covered by the difference of the accounting error.

    Here’s an Epoch Times article mentioning it. I selected the “free-to-share” option, so maybe you won’t see the request for an Epoch Times subscription.

    NTD Evening News (May 19): Georgia DA Prepares for Possible Trump Indictment; $3 Billion ‘Accounting Error’ Frees Aid for Ukraine

    • Yes it was confirmed a couple of days ago.
      That will purchase five squadrons of F16’s, plus support infrastructure and long range air-to-air missiles. There would even be change left for some other stuff.

      • I used to consider reuters “legitimate news,” but I don’t now. All the same, I recognize you and I both want to see the invaders kicked back to whatever shit hole they crawled out of. So I’m not interested in explaining why I doubt reuters, and I doubt you’d be interested. I should respect that.

        • “why I doubt reuters”

          Well, I’ve seen a meme that falsely claimed “Reuters owns the AP and Rothschilds own Reuters.” If it was based on that, I would point out that:

          • AP is a news cooperative, owned by member news organizations, which pay assessments based on their size (and reach). There’s an elected hoard of directors, but The AP & it’s worldwide operations are run by a general manager out of headquarters in New York. It is *not* owned by Reuters.

          • In 2008, Reuters was bought by the Thomson Corporation, which created Thomson Reuters. It is controlled by the Thomson family of Canada, a long-time Canadian family that’s not related to Rothschilds.

          But of course you’re under no obligation to explain anything.

          “both want to see the invaders kicked back to whatever shit hole they crawled out of.”

          And then buried in it.

  3. One of the most sly and cunning kremkrappers in the west, Peter Hitchens, has inserted the following into his column today :

    “Stop hiding from my questions, Lord Hague

    Some weeks ago I wrote here about how Lord Hague of Richmond, when he was Foreign Secretary, condoned the lawless overthrow of Ukraine’s legitimate, elected president, Viktor Yanukovych. This was the event which triggered the large-scale violence which has ever afterwards gripped Ukraine.

    I believe it is quite wrong for a law-governed state such as ours to wink at such things. Had he misled Parliament by doing so? I thought so, but I also thought I should give him a chance to defend himself. So I wrote to him at an address provided by his official website. He replied, in my view rather feebly. He even claimed, quite wrongly, that President Yanukovych had been removed under an article of Ukraine’s constitution which absolutely did not apply.

    So I wrote again, to the same address. Last week my letter, showing signs of having been opened by somebody, was returned, with a sticker on it saying, ‘NOT AT THIS ADDRESS’, left. Yet the address from which it was sent back is still listed on Lord Hague’s website as the correct one. Oh, William, I remember the days when you were witty and amusing. But this absurd behaviour is neither. I agree that you ought to be embarrassed by what you said to the Commons in February 2014. But you would recover your standing and sweeten the air of British foreign policy, if you would admit it and withdraw what you said. And stop pretending your address is not your address.”

    Lord Hague is a senior Conservative with a long track record of opposition to putler. He was the first to use the term “land grab” when the rat nazi took Crimea. Hitchens uses his column to attack Billy Hague and embed pure kremlin talking points : “Yanukovich legitimately elected.” Bullshit! He was skanked in by Paul Manafort.

    • If hitchens considers yanukovych to a “legitimate” president, then that says a lot about his true loyalties for moscow. Even assuming that yanukovych had the majority verifiably certified votes (which I doubt), his behavior after getting into office, was one of the most disgraceful examples I’ve ever seen of political malfeasance. He actually sent armed troops to shoot the protesters camped in Independence Square. I’d read he was so corrupt, that some of the Ukrainian police were fed up with him, and joined the protesters’ side. I think Wikipedia (I’d looked up other sources too) mentions a story about how, as he fled the country, the little weasel claimed his car was shot at.

  4. “Clearly, something is broken down about the democratic opinion-making process.”

    It is, but in a different way than Vance thinks. The Biden administration has failed and is still failing to educate the American people just why helping Ukraine is so important and that it is indeed in our interest to do so.
    It’s sad, and I am ashamed of having so many people in the United States who are shutting their eyes to the fact that Ukraine is being murdered and raped. They are willing to at least indirectly help a fascist crime syndicate country to do evil, horrible crimes against another innocent nation. These people in the GOP and elsewhere are un-American as can be. We should never condone what is now happening in Ukraine.
    I wish the supporters of Ukraine would be more vocal and provide more info for the public so that the last brainless moron knows how important this is, not only to Ukraine, but to us and Europe, too.

    • Hi R I this is Red. I saw you asked about changing your notifications with a message to our Contact Us page. I had to change some from the default settings too. We publish too much most of the time but it is all for Ukraine.
      Anyway, click on the BELL at the top right of your screen and then click on the COG wheel and you should get a screen for Notifications and you can click on or off how you get those emails. Good luck and let me know if I can help further. Slava Ukraini!

          • I don’t see one.

            When I comment, there’s a checkbox “Notify me of new posts via email.” If I check that, I get an email for every new post, which is *not* what I want. There used to be an option to notify me of new comments. I’d sometimes check that when commenting, to see if anyone replied. That option disappeared months ago, but if I go to the WordPress “manage subscriptions / comments” page at https://wordpress.com/subscriptions/comments, I can still see some of those comment subscriptions from back in January.

              • I generally read and comment from my work laptop. A little while ago I made a comment from a personal laptop, just to be sure that the missing checkbox wasn’t the result of some filtering my work does.

                It’s all me.

                • Larmar appears to upvote, so you are definitely getting notifications. Larry doesn’t seem to.

                  • I replied twice; nothing showed up. Trying again without any links…

                    I’ve started getting notifications for all posts, which I *don’t* want. I want to subscribe to comments specific posts on which I’ve made a comment. Apparently there’s a plug-in for that; maybe it got lost. Google “Subscribe To Comments Reloaded”.

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