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Some Republicans just don't get it

The world took a step in the direction of becoming a little bit safer Saturday, thanks to the passage of a House bill that includes some more aid to Ukraine; some more military assistance to Taiwan; some long-overdue assistance to Israel. Alas, some lawmakers — Republicans! — believe that if you send arms to U.S. allies, you’re somehow hungry for war to start. No, pal, we’re sending arms to U.S. allies because we want to win the wars that have started and deter the war that is on the horizon. Republicans used to know that weakness was provocative. You would think the events of recent years would have reinforced that lesson.

Utah senator Mike Lee declares, “The Senate should say NO to the warmonger wishlist pushed through by Speaker Johnson.”

“Warmonger wishlist.”

This sort of rhetoric reveals that the objection to the House bill isn’t really about wanting border security, as Lee insists. Nor is Lee’s beef really about “gender advisors” being in the Ukrainian military (more on that below), or fears that the humanitarian aid to Gaza will somehow be traded for more weapons for Hamas.

No, when you’re tossing the term “warmonger” at those who want to put weapons in the hands of our allies so they can defend themselves from the likes of Russia and China and Hamas and Iran, you’re determined to smear the heroes as the villains and tout the villains as the heroes.

Ukraine and Israel and Taiwan did not start any of these fights. Their only “crime” is existing and looking like awfully appealing targets to men such as Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, and Iranian ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Let’s look at Taiwan.

There are some opponents of additional aid to Ukraine who say we can’t afford to send more equipment there, because we need to shore up Taiwan’s defense. Never mind that what’s happening in Ukraine is primarily a land battle, and the defense of Taiwan would be primarily an air and sea battle. Never mind that the Taiwanese are telling the U.S. not to abandon Ukraine, because they know Xi Jinping is watching the Ukraine war closely for signs that American resolve is short-lived. Never mind that Ukraine and Taiwan are developing closer ties in defense efforts.

Never mind that separately, the current backlog of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan amounts to at least $19.17 billion — and it contains everything from torpedoes to Harpoon coastal-defense systems to F-16s to MQ-9 Reaper drones to HIMARS launchers. This is not U.S. aid, or U.S. donations of weapons. This is not stuff covered by the legislation that passed the House. These are weapons that the Taiwanese have already paid for, and that we have not yet shipped over to that island nation. (And despite what our increasingly outdated “One China policy” claims, Taiwan is a nation.) This is because our defense-industrial base and the Pentagon arms-transfer approval process move with all the ease and speed of a kidney stone.

How the hell do you perceive Taiwan as a “warmonger”? It’s just sitting there. Trust me, it’s doing just fine, and its citizens would love to spend the rest of their lives making semiconductor chips and never think about the Chinese Communist Party and its armies. But they can’t, because Xi is literally openly telling President Biden to his face that “Beijing will reunify Taiwan with mainland China,” but that he hasn’t decided when that will occur.

I doubt our president objected to Xi’s use of the term “reunify,” but these two places have never been unified:

Taiwanese political scientists are quick to point out that the regime in Beijing and Taiwan’s democratically elected counterpart in Taipei have never been unified, so this is unification, not re-unification. The use of the term reunification implies a unity that never existed. Mainland China used to be under the control of the Nationalist Party of China, or Kuomintang (KMT), but Taiwan/Formosa has never been under the control of the Chinese Communist Party.

The fact that the likes of Senator Lee are labeling aid to Taiwan as part of the “warmonger wishlist” tells us two things. First, a whole lot of people who are insisting that we can’t help Ukraine because we must prioritize Taiwan will abandon Taiwan at the first opportunity. There are a whole bunch of head-in-the-sand isolationists who are posing as China hawks right now.

Second, a whole bunch of people who claim to be “tough on China” are strangely reticent about actually taking action that will hinder future Chinese aggression. Lee describes himself as “tough on China.” If Lee votes against this package that includes military aid to Taiwan, how is he tough on China? What’s the point of all that rhetoric if your actual voting record is what the regime in Beijing would prefer to see?

Regarding that reference above to “gender advisors” being in the Ukrainian military, Lee’s objection is that the Ukrainian military is adopting the methods used by NATO forces for integrating women into its armed forces.

So, one objection to sending more U.S. assistance to the Ukrainian military is that it is likely to lose the war because of a lack of manpower. Another objection to sending more U.S. assistance to the Ukrainian military is that it is addressing that manpower shortage by integrating more and more women into the armed forces, civil-defense militias, etc. I just want to tell these people, “Pick one.”

These people reason backward. They start with the conclusion, “We shouldn’t help Ukraine, and we should avert our eyes as Putin’s armies shove civilians into mass graves,” and work their reasoning backward from there.

Lee calls for “negotiations for a peaceful solution” with Vladimir Putin.

Where is this nice, reasonable, easygoing, and levelheaded Putin that these guys see? The only Russian “peaceful solution” that’s ever been on the table was a disarmed Ukraine, where the Russian army could roll in and take over the rest of the country whenever it wanted. We would never take that deal; why would we ever tell the Ukrainians that they should accept vassal status? Ukraine’s hopes of avoiding another invasion would rest entirely on the promises of Vladimir Putin. I know this is going to shock you, but I think the former KGB colonel isn’t always an honest person!

Mike Lee is arguing for cutting off U.S. military assistance and negotiating with Putin, just weeks after Putin himself said he’s not interested in negotiating, because the U.S. has cut off military assistance. Whether Lee realizes it or not, he’s not calling for a “peaceful solution,” he’s calling for a unilateral Ukrainian surrender.

If you want peace, prepare for war. It’s an old, difficult lesson that history keeps teaching democracies and free nations the hard way, over and over again.

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