Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ (R-FL) written statement to Tucker Carlson heard around the world earlier this week on the Russia-Ukraine war has caused nothing short of a full-scale meltdown from the arrogant, consistently wrong-thinking, military-industrial complex-addled band of bipartisan dunderheads who collectively comprise the American ruling class’s foreign policy “blob.” The reality is that the governor, also a likely 2024 presidential candidate, should wear the blob’s dripping scorn as a badge of honor.
These “blobsters,” oftentimes think tank and punditry Boomers or Gen X-ers who came of political age during the Cold War, typically suffer from a first principles-level delusion about whether America’s triumphalist post-Cold War unipolar moment still exists (it does not). Accordingly, blobsters know one modus operandi only: more intervention and more escalation. Abba Eban once famously said, in the context of ever-elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace, that “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”; for the blobsters who have been seething this week at the fact both presumptive frontrunners for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination now oppose their agenda in Ukraine, we might say they never miss an opportunity to intervene further and blow up (or screw up) more things abroad.
The blob’s post-Cold War track record of supported foreign interventions is positively abysmal; Iraq is now an Iranian satrapy, Afghanistan is now run by the Taliban, and Libya, over a decade post-Samantha Power/Hillary Clinton-led intervention, is still riven by a jihadist civil war. In most vocational settings, a track record of such obvious repeated failures gets you fired, and perhaps blacklisted; for Beltway blobsters, such prognostications can merit a promotion, at least when Boeing or Northrop Grumman has something to say about it.
Seriously: Outside the corridors of Beltway groupthink, who in their right mind would still listen to these people for sage foreign policy counsel?
Apparently not DeSantis. The Sunshine State governor, in his statement to Carlson, bemoaned the extent to which America’s increasingly weapons-entrenched, rhetorically absolutist, and fiscally incontinent posture in Ukraine distracts from urgent problems at home, such as the horrific drug overdose epidemic inflicted upon our nation’s youth by a wide-open southern border and the vicious drug cartels that operate with impunity in northern Mexico. Even worse, from the blobsters’ blinkered perspective, DeSantis had the temerity to—egad!—reject the notion that further American entrenchment in a “territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia” represents a “vital national interest” for the U.S.
For that, déclassé Beltway neoconservatives and liberal humanitarian interventionists have derided DeSantis as a “Putin apologist” or, as befits a group of people unable to process a foreign conflict outside a dichotomous World War II paradigm of full-scale war pitting absolutist good against absolutist evil, as a reincarnation of Neville Chamberlain.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to Iowa voters on March 10, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. Scott Olson/Getty Images
But DeSantis’ statement to Carlson is emphatically correct. Toward the beginning of the conflict, there was indeed a real threat of Vladimir Putin toppling the Volodymyr Zelensky regime. But despite the lingering presence of intermittent rocket fire in and around Kyiv, the overwhelming majority of the fighting since last May—when Russian tanks that had encircled Kyiv in anticipation for a possible final assault on Zelensky largely retreated—has been relegated to far-flung provinces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, and Crimea. As this column has repeatedly noted and as has been documented ad nauseam more generally by anyone willing to listen, the Donbas is comprised of towns and enclaves of decidedly mixed Russian and Ukrainian ethnic backgrounds; the specific national borders drawn there today, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, are simply arbitrary. Crimea, for its part, has spent most of the past few hundred years under Russian control.
So with the Zelensky regime secure from being toppled—especially secure, as of late, due to Europe’s recently increased arms shipments—and with the main question now pertaining to the precise boundaries and contours of an ultimate settlement, how exactly is the conflict not a “territorial dispute?” And what exactly is the “vital national interest” for the U.S. in ensuring Ukraine retains every single square foot of disputed territory, even if some of those square feet in the Ukrainian far east are—heaven forfend!—Russian-speaking towns that may well want to be part of Russia? Is poking the world’s largest nuclear arsenal as much as we have already done, and as much as the blob still wants to do, seriously worth “upholding international norms,” or whatever other unthinking drivel the blobsters regurgitate?
The truth is that the vitriolic reaction to DeSantis this week says everything about the blob’s debilitating personal and vocational insecurities, and nothing about DeSantis’ call for measured prudence in Eastern Europe. DeSantis’ critics—besides the obvious knee-jerk Democratic partisans—are largely composed of two groups of people: those who grew up in a world that simply no longer exists, and those who are compelled to criticize his stance for purposes of retaining sinecures or maintaining professional relevance.
The first group, namely the “BoomerCons” (Boomer conservatives), matured in a “mutually assured destruction” Cold War setting wherein framing foreign policy as full of binary choices about dueling moral abstractions, such as “freedom versus authoritarianism,” might have been more apt or better resonated; and crucially, when we think of abstract values clashing on the geopolitical chessboard, American society back then had also not yet fully degenerated into its present decadence. The second group, composed of intellectually homogenous journalists, think tankers, and academics, depend upon the propagation and acceptance of blob orthodoxy for their very livelihoods.
The blob will likely have many 2024 GOP presidential contenders to choose from: Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, and Mike Pence perhaps chief among them. What is needed is more statesmen who have the courage to defy the blob, and to instead side with the American people. Ron DeSantis has again led the way.
Josh Hammer is Newsweek opinion editor, host of “The Josh Hammer Show,” a syndicated columnist, and a research fellow with the Edmund Burke Foundation. Subscribe here for “The Josh Hammer Report,” a Newsweek newsletter. Twitter: @josh_hammer.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.
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