Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday November 11, 2022
Greene’s call for ending U.S. aid to Ukraine isn’t about the money
Speeches presented at Donald Trump’s rallies are not renowned for their detailed presentations of carefully considered policy proposals. That’s not why people go to rallies in general, of course, much less this specific genre of rally. Attendees show up to show their support for Republican candidates — and to hear excoriations of the political left.
That’s the context in which we should consider the contribution by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to a rally Thursday in Iowa: Her arguments about funding for the war in Ukraine were political rhetoric, not considered analysis. The question, instead, is what political aim she intended to advance.
Greene’s mention of Ukraine stemmed from a riff about the border. Greene accused Democrats and the news media of ignoring an alleged “crime spree” involving undocumented immigrants, including that there are “drugs flooding across our border, with fentanyl poisonings every single day.” One reason you’re hearing about fentanyl so much this year is that overdose deaths have increased, as the media have reported. Another reason is that Republicans are using the fear of fentanyl as a way to bash Democrats on border policies — although most fentanyl is smuggled in through existing border checkpoints, often by U.S. citizens.
Regardless, that was the setup for her comments about U.S. spending to help Ukraine.
“Democrats have ripped our border wide open,” she said in Iowa. “But the only border they care about is Ukraine, not America’s southern border. Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine. Our country comes first.”
See the logical jump there? From “Democrats care too much about Ukraine’s border” to “we shouldn’t spend on Ukraine at all.” It’s not clear how one follows from the other, but consistency on such things is not how Greene has built her political reputation.
While not the official position of the GOP, Greene’s “not another penny” line met with some applause. That’s not surprising, given that polling has shown increasing Republican skepticism about providing aid to Ukraine in its war against Russian invaders. As The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake noted Thursday, nearly half of Republicans now think the United States is doing too much in support of Ukraine.
But the United States is doing relatively little — particularly when considering the historical context of its effort to contain Russian aggression.
U.S. defense spending has increased dramatically since the end of the Cold War, the period in which U.S. opposition to Russian strength was most overt. That’s largely because of the increase in spending that followed the 9/11 attacks, including for the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But it’s also because spending has increased broadly and because of inflation. Relative to total government spending, defense spending (here meaning Department of Defense outlays) has been fairly flat. (The Washington Post)