In this CHQ exclusive, our friend Reagan biographer and historian Craig Shirley shares his views on the debate over further American funding for Ukraine defense from the perspective of his two books on World War II and his deep knowledge of President Ronald Reagan’s decision-making.
Wrote Mr. Shirley:
With more and more billions being wasted in another European war -- like World War I -- some conservatives are struggling to find their position on the conflict in Ukraine.
Some on the Right have been all for jumping into the Ukraine conflict while others, like TV host Tucker Carlson, are urging caution.
For many, the sensible standard on conservative foreign policy has been Ronald Reagan, who believed in only projecting American power to defend American interests. He brought American foreign policy back to rationality after Nixon’s Wilsonian foreign policy.
Reagan only committed US troops twice in his presidency. One of which, Beirut, he regretted for the rest of his life when almost 300 Marines were killed by a terrorist driving a truck full of explosives. The other was the wildly successful liberation of Grenada, where communist forces were whipped by the US military.
The same pseudo-intellectual forces -- today's neocons – that got us into World War I and the Iraq War – supposedly making the world safe for democracy – are behind the push to get us more deeply involved in Ukraine. And, spend even more billions which could go to good causes here.
We know what a disaster World War I was. We know what a disaster the Iraq War was, which cost us so many lives and so much treasure. We are still paying for the wounds of Iraq. Meanwhile the neocons such as John Bolton who argued for total war are hiding in the tall grass.
Dick Cheney is an interesting case. Once a reliable conservative, he has so marginalized himself, even the voters of Wyoming ignored his call to vote for his daughter, Liz.
She lost her reelection bid in an embarrassing landslide. Meanwhile Dick Cheney has gone from Reagan Republican to something unrecognizable. A globalist?
No one is arguing for an isolationist America. Personally, I don’t like to see any group naming themselves “America First” or some iteration thereof. It smacks of the isolationist movement just a few years before World War II.
There are many good arguments urging caution. So many corrupt defense contractors are getting their snout in the trough, piling up billions at the expense of the hard-working Americans. The defense industry has always been corrupt, dating back to the Truman Commission which was assembled to investigate defense contractors ripping off the American taxpayer after WWII. The Commission uncovered billions in theft.
American conservatives would also like to see Europe make a bigger commitment to their own continent.
Adding to all this are the many injustices of the Volodymyr Zelensky government including censorship of opposing media and parties. That plus accountability in Ukraine, of the American dollars being wasted by corrupt officials doesn’t make them the most sympathetic of characters. We hear tales of Mercedes being purchase by government officials.
On a more basic level, can anyone take seriously a war in which the president of Ukraine sits for hours for an Annie Liebowitz celebrity photo shoot of himself and his wife? True, Ukraine gets a good PR in this country, but that is largely because Vladmir Putin gets such a lousy (and deservedly so) press in the US. But really, shouldn’t some adults in the room say, “a pox on both their houses?”
On top of it all, we are dangerously close to a nuclear war with a lunatic. Russia has often been referred to as a third world country with nuclear weapons and indeed, it is.
Boiling this all down means true American conservatives have much to consider before committing our money, our wealth and possibly our troops to another sad foreign adventure.
If Joe Biden is for it, can we be too? No thanks. His intentions are nefarious.
Just because his son is engaged in shady and corrupt deals in Ukraine means by definition we must oppose.
Conservatives have a time-honored tradition of proceeding cautiously when it comes to foreign affairs and conflict. Many urge conservatives to get back to that rationality.
Craig Shirley is the author of four critically praised bestselling books on President Reagan, "Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All," "Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America," "Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan," and "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980." His book "December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World" appeared multiple times on the New York Times bestselling list in December 2011 and January 2012. His book "Last Act," was named Best Narrative” in the nonfiction category by USA Best Books for 2015. He is also the author of the authorized biography of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, "Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative."
American foreign policy
Biden foreign policy
Biden Ukraine policy
Ukraine Russia war