The GOP’s populist wing poses a threat to the North Atlantic alliance and the defense of Ukraine

By | September 2, 2023

Phillips Payson O’Brien writes:

Europe and the United States are on the verge of the most momentous conscious uncoupling in international relations in decades. Since 1949, NATO has been the one constant in world security. Initially an alliance among the United States, Canada, and 10 countries in Western Europe, NATO won the Cold War and has since expanded to include almost all of Europe. It has been the single most successful security grouping in modern global history. It also might collapse by 2025.

The cause of this collapse would be the profound difference in outlook between the Republican Party’s populist wing—which is led by Donald Trump but now clearly makes up the majority of the GOP—and the existential security concerns of much of Europe. The immediate catalyst for the collapse would be the war in Ukraine. When the dominant faction within one of the two major American political parties can’t see the point in helping a democracy-minded country fight off Russian invaders, that suggests that the center of the political spectrum has shifted in ways that will render the U.S. a less reliable ally to Europe. The latter should prepare accordingly.

The past few weeks have revealed that Trump’s pro-Russian, anti-NATO outlook isn’t just a brief interlude in Republican politics; suspicion of American involvement in supporting Ukraine is now the consensus of the party’s populist heart. During last week’s GOP presidential debate, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy—the two candidates most intent on appealing to the party’s new Trumpist base—both argued against more aid for Ukraine. DeSantis did so softly, by vowing to make any more aid conditional on greater European assistance and saying he’d rather send troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Ramaswamy was more strident: He described the current situation as “disastrous” and called for a complete and immediate cessation of U.S. support for Ukraine. Ramaswamy later went even further, basically saying that Ukraine should be cut up; Vladimir Putin would get to keep a large part of the country. Trump did not take part in the debate, but he has previously downplayed America’s interest in an Ukrainian victory and has seemed to favor territorial concessions by Ukraine to Russia. He, DeSantis, and Ramaswamy are all playing to the same voters—who, polls suggest, make up about three-quarters of the Republican electorate. [Continue reading…]

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