• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Ronald Reagan’s still right — it’s time to step up and help Ukraine win the war

Ronald Reagan's still right -- it's time to step up and help Ukraine win the war


“We know only too well that war comes not when the forces of freedom are strong but when they are weak,” declared Ronald Reagan at the 1980 Republican National Convention. 

“It is then that tyrants are tempted,” he added, summing up his conviction that peace could only be secured through strength. 

Until Donald Trump followed in Reagan’s footsteps as the GOP’s standard-bearer, this formulation was axiomatic on the American right. 

But Trump’s careless rhetoric — which often flirted with isolationism and flattered America’s sworn enemies in Moscow and Pyongyang — emboldened the Republican Party’s isolationist wing. 

In an op-ed endorsing Trump last year, Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance — a reportedly top contender in Trump’s veepstakes who’s called depriving Ukraine of aid his second-biggest priority in Congress — identified the former president’s supposed break with the “hawkishness” of the “foreign policy establishment” as his greatest achievement in the White House. 

Au contraire, Sen. Vance. 

It’s true Trump bucked the foreign-policy establishment from the Oval Office. 

It’s also true many of his zigs paid dividends where others’ zags would not have. 

Yet Vance’s account of that divergence is inverted from reality. 

In fact, nearly all Trump’s successes in shaping world events stemmed not from his aforementioned flirtations with the Buchananite right but from his willingness to outhawk the hawks Vance loathes and embrace a radical Reaganite foreign policy. 

His maximum-pressure strategy on Iran put the mullahs on their heels. 

His steadfast support for Israel compelled the Arab world to come to the negotiating table. 

And as he reminded congressional Republicans at a recent Capitol Hill meeting, he was much tougher on Vladimir Putin’s Russia than either his predecessor or successor was. 

While the Obama administration refused to provide Ukrainians with lethal aid despite Putin’s constant saber-rattling, the Trump administration did. 

And while Trump supported sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, President Biden swiftly waived them upon coming into power. 

Rotten fruit 

Even in the years since Putin invaded Ukraine, Biden has slow-walked certain vital forms of military aid. 

The fruits of Biden’s kowtowing to the West’s enemies have been rotten. 

His weakness invited Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Hamas’ barbaric attack on Israel. 

His fecklessness has undermined both Ukraine’s and Israel’s righteous responses. 

His naïveté has allowed a new axis of evil — Russia, China and Iran — to emulsify. 

And his de facto surrender to the Taliban in Afghanistan was the most demoralizing moment for the American military in decades, one from which the president has never recovered politically. 

Vance’s suggestion is that Trump run to Biden’s left on matters on foreign affairs? 

His political instincts are as confused as his false memory of the Trump administration. 

Trump should run on winning the war in Ukraine — not just because it’s the right thing to do but for the sake of his own electoral prospects. 

Voters correctly attribute the chaos of the last few years not to undue American aggression but a deadly lack of resolve. 

A Reagan Institute survey found 54% of Americans want their country to be more engaged in world events and 75% believe it’s important for the United States that Ukraine succeeds in repelling the Russians. 

Meanwhile, another poll, in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, showed that voters in every battleground state favor increases in defense spending. 

Importantly, Russia is identified as the greatest threat to American interests by the second-largest contingent of voters, behind only China. 

Perhaps the most telling result of all: When respondents were asked whether America should be a “global force for good” or “only seek to defend itself from threats,” solid majorities in every state adopted the more expansive view of the American role in the world. 

Americans are not so naïve as to think they’re better off allowing the world’s most evil regimes to act with impunity. 

The political folly of Vance’s position is further underlined by yet another poll from this year. 

Strong Ukraine support 

A survey a Republican super PAC commissioned in February found 60% of GOP voters in swing districts and a plurality of the same cohort in safe Republican districts continue to support the provision of military aid to Ukraine. 

As it turns out, the Reagan Doctrine remains axiomatic; that Biden’s rejection of it has sown death and destruction across the globe is equally as obvious. 

To do anything but capitalize on the wisdom of the American majority revolted by his submissive imprudence would be political malpractice. 



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