MAGA Republicans Pose Threat to U.S. National Security and Freedom
Many MAGA Republicans have positioned themselves as weak and impotent on the fundamental issue of basic freedom, even while the U.S. is effectively at war.
The United States is, effectively, at war. Except it’s a different kind of war so far. One in which we don’t have troops on the ground. It’s an indirect conflict. We, along with our closest allies, are in a fight against rising global fascism as represented most horrifically right now by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But the threat is bigger than Ukraine, and that’s why we and our closest allies are pouring so many resources into helping Ukraine defend itself. Putin isn’t going to stop at Ukraine. He has an avaricious, predatory outlook and is driven by revenge against countries he feels have weakened and wronged Russia.
MAGA Republicans continue to attack President Biden and even call for his impeachment as he takes brave steps to help Ukraine win this bloody, tragic, genocidal war Russia is waging on them in their home country.
It’s past time wondering if this is a feature, not a bug, given the connections and money flowing from Russia to MAGA Republicans, their leader, and even Republican Senate funds and the NRA. There’s a pattern that is simply too blatant to ignore, but at the same time there is not evidence that someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene or Speaker Kevin McCarthy is working for Putin or Russian oligarchs.
But they are both, for some reason, doing their best to assist Putin in his goal to undermine democracy.
Their latest effort being to give Tucker Carlson, himself an ongoing mouthpiece for Russian propaganda, access to footage from the January 6th terrorist attack, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed out puts everyone in that building at risk because it shows, for example, where all of the security cameras are.
“(T)he Senate strongly objects to the release of this sensitive security footage to Tucker Carlson & Fox News. The speaker— nor any elected official— does not have the right to jeopardize the safety of senators nor Senate & Capitol staff for their own political purposes.”
State of Play
Globally, every weak spot in the fabric of democracy is strained as encroaching authoritarianism keeps pushing at the vulnerable spots. This is why it’s so important that we somehow get Republicans on board to act as a unified coalition on this one issue.
Russia pulled out of the START treaty on Wednesday, the last arms control treaty between the United States and Russia. Together, the two countries possess “roughly 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons with a stockpile of over 8,000 between them.”
Foreign policy reporter Laura Rozen wrote on her Diplomatic Substack, “Putin holds arms treaty ‘hostage’ to war on Ukraine,” noting, “World powers that previously compartmentalized arms control from their other disagreements now no longer appear willing to do so, putting solutions to limit the threat of nuclear proliferation in jeopardy, on Iran and globally.”
“It’s terrible,” one European official who works on arms control said, about the end of Western/Russian cooperation on curbing Iran’s nuclear program. “The work of twenty years somehow lost.”
That’s pretty alarming. Alarming enough that anyone with an ounce of care for the basic concept of freedom should be grabbing the hands of whoever is nearest to help hold the line.
But that’s not happening here, in the United States. Too many MAGA Republicans are undermining the United States’ unity, with Marjorie Taylor Greene even calling for secession in the form of a national divorce.
World War III Threats… Can’t Ukraine Just Give In For “Peace”?
One of Russia’s strongest talking points to get people to parrot their propaganda is that if Ukraine would just give in, there would be peace and if they don’t, there will be World War III.
This idea has taken root on both the far Left and not so far Right, and is repeated constantly on conservative media, Elon Musk repeats it on Twitter, which he owns now. Most of you probably know this isn’t workable, but let’s examine what’s going on right now because the stakes have been raised by Russia with the START treaty suspension and threats to other countries.
This conflict, which has given rise to the bloodiest war since World War II, started in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. Ukraine was a divided state and Russia took advantage of this by arming separatists. (This might seem little too close to home for comfort for those of us paying attention to Putin’s successful efforts at dividing this country - see MTG’s “divorce” call.)
Ukraine represents power to Russia, power and the image of being a superpower. Putin wants it back because Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is aligned with western-style democracy, which makes a stark contrast to Putin’s autocratic regime in Russia. There are additional interests for Russia in terms of trade, energy, and Putin’s feeling that NATO’s post–Cold War expansion is a humiliation.
“During one year of the full-scale invasion Russia launched almost 5000 missiles and made almost 3500 airstrikes against Ukraine. Russia also made almost 1100 attacks using drones, the Ukrainian General Staff reported,” the Kyiv Post reported.
Russia is threatening Germany
During a rally led by Putin on Wednesday, Russians sang that they are “defending the fatherland by raising the red flag over Berlin.”
The Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine warned: “Attention, Germany! Russians sing about "Russian flag over Berlin" at Luzhniki stadium.”
Russia, the country that invaded the sovereign state of Ukraine, calls Ukrainians “demons” and claims that missiles are flying as a “cure for sick Ukrainians.”
“Meanwhile in Mordor: Putin led another rally, full of gruesome narratives. Listen to the words of their songs, about their arms covered in blood up to their elbows and sending missiles ‘to cure sick Ukrainians,’ whom they also described as "demons,’” Russian media monitor Julia Davis wrote above this clip.
There is also growing concern over China’s support for Russia’s military.
Just as an example of how the world is at war with encroaching authoritarianism, the President of Mexico’s majority in Congress passed “legal changes to gut Mexico's independent elections body in what most experts see as the country's most consequential democratic setback in recent decades.”
If that sounds a lot like what Ron DeSantis is doing in Florida, based on the model set by Viktor Orbán of Hungary, that’s because it is.
Bowing Down to Global Threat
The president of the United States is very busy upholding freedom. Naturally, MAGA Republicans are outraged.
As Republicans war within their own party about support for Ukraine and the more vocal members attack President Biden for his show of strength and support for Ukraine via his iconic visit, Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz introduced a bill to cease support, citing Ukraine “fatigue.” (If you Google this phrase, you’ll see that they’re running with it as hard as they can with former Rush Limbaugh replacement host using that phrase as the title to an opinion piece claiming that Ukraine fatigue is “building on the horizon.”)
Speaker McCarthy is doing that McCarthy dance, the one many have tried before him and failed, of not taking a public side but even then he still made sure to make it known that Republicans wouldn’t rubber stamp any aide for Ukraine.
McCarthy, who barely won his gavel after a record setting 15 rounds of votes, hit Biden with an accusation that his actions are “a bit too late.” So, they don’t support Ukraine funds and they hate Biden’s trip to Ukraine, but also, Biden is late and not doing enough. Yikes.
Over in the Senate, the grown up in the room happens to be the same Senator who single-handedly stole a Supreme Court seat from President Obama, and thus can be held responsible for a lot of the resulting current loss of freedoms in this country (from abortion to state’s rights to make gun laws).
Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to change the narrative from the weak isolationist voices in his party to his own pronouncement, “Reports about the death of Republican support for strong American leadership in the world have been greatly exaggerated.”
Well. Even Mitch McConnell can’t bring Marjorie Taylor Greene to heel to pretend to support a Democratic president purely because it looks bad on the global stage to have Republicans not supporting freedom and American leadership.
Former Republican Representative Adam Kinszinger wrote of Greene’s secession push, “In the old days a politician would be kicked out for opposing the Unions survival.”
And here is the Republican Party leader, Donald Trump, saying he could end this war in a day. “‘Continuing to pour money in is delaying everything. It's delaying a lot of settlement ... I could settle that in one day ... that should be settled immediately.’ (His strategy for ending the war is basically giving Putin everything he wants.),” Aaron Rupar wrote over video of Trump from Monday.
Trump went so far as to affirm his close relationship with Putin, reminding folks of that time he trusted Putin when the Russian leader said he didn’t interfere in the 2016 election… over the U.S. intelligence community.
“Trump brags that he ‘actually had a very good relationship’ with Putin (we noticed) and says that when he was asked whether he trusted Putin more than the US intelligence community it ‘could be the toughest question I've ever been asked as a politician,’” Rupar again over video of Trump speaking on February 20th.
Meanwhile, Russia asks if they should provide graves for “all of you".”
President Biden’s Unique Authority
There is a stark contrast between the fractured Republican response to Ukraine and that of President Biden’s, who has a unique authority on this issue.
President Biden spoke to the anxious leaders of the Bucharest Nine (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) on Wednesday while in Warsaw, about their concerns pertaining to Putin’s expansionist ambitions.
Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the security of the B-9 and pointed to the fact that he himself, as a Senator, pushed “the hardest” to expand NATO membership for many of the members sitting around the table.
“And the irony is that one of the last conversations I had with the -- our friend in Russia was I said, ‘You keep asking for the Finlandization of NATO. You're going to get the NATOization of Finland.’ Well, it happened. Not only are we strong as we were, we're stronger.”
“It’s just something unbelievable that at a time like this the President of the United States is coming to Kyiv,” Andrei Ketov, a 48-year-old Ukrainian service member, told CNN.
Once again, President Biden’s decades of experience mattered. This should put an end to the ageist attacks on this president (but it won’t).
Republicans Bought Putin’s Propaganda About Biden
It’s not just Russians who miscalculated President Biden’s power and grasp of the nuances of global affairs. Republicans have been echoing the Russian propaganda that Biden is ill and weak. Now they all have egg on their faces.
President Biden took a historic and unprecedented 24-hour secret trip starting at 4 AM on Sunday morning and involving two ten hour train trips, multiple planes, a motorcade, multiple meetings with leaders of the Bucharest 9, and a major speech in Poland.
“Biden’s visit to Ukraine a year into the biggest war in Europe since World War II underscores just how badly Russian President Vladimir Putin miscalculated. Putin didn’t just misjudge Ukraine’s determination to resist and its revulsion with his claims that Ukraine is not a real country. He may have just bought into the Kremlin’s own malicious propaganda about the feebleness of America’s leadership — echoed and amplified by Biden’s political foes,” world affairs columnist Frida Ghitis wrote for CNN.
Indeed, President Biden’s visit to the Ukrainian warzone humiliated Russia, with a Russian Journalist calling Biden’s visit a “Demonstrative humiliation of Russa.”
Time to Come Together
Given what is at stake globally, it’s imperative that we somehow find a way to get Republicans to unite behind American leadership on this one issue.
At the risk of sounding rah-rah hawkish, allow me to preface this with the fact that I was against the invasion of Iraq when it happened. War is hideous pain and loss. It should never be undertaken lightly.
But this is not a war of choice for the Ukrainians. They were invaded by a saber-rattling lunatic who threatens the most basic values the west holds dear. This is a war about freedom.
There will never be peace without a show of strength to stop Putin. Some people can’t be reasoned with, and he is one of them. Thankfully, President Biden is well aware of the realities surrounding Putin’s motives for his war of aggression against Ukraine.
For Putin, this is about revenge and an insatiable hunger for Russia to be restored to former glory as a superpower.
It should be easy for anyone in the United States to unite around this single issue of protecting freedom. It needn’t require agreement on anything else.
The Republican party should be constructive and responsible in their criticism of President Biden. They should function as the loyal opposition. But we aren’t seeing that from Republicans in a united sense right now.
The loudest voices in the Republican Party (and they have been elevated to high positions in the House and include their former president and party leader who is also running for president again, so can’t be dismissed as extremist outliers) are rather proudly defining themselves as being against global freedom and all that the west stands for.
Perhaps this is the natural progression of a party so enmeshed with Putin; they can no longer even put on the face of defenders of freedom. But no matter the motivation for this undermining and repugnant behavior, this is not a winning position for the Republican Party. It is also a obscene position in the face of the crimes against humanity Russia is enacting on innocent Ukrainians.
Putin is finding that it is harder to conquer the Ukrainians than it was to conquer the majority of the Republican Party in the U.S.
For those who recall that it became unpatriotic to even criticize President George W. Bush (the Dixie Chicks were indeed cancelled for it) after he invaded Iraq, the double standard here is glaring. But of course, we should always be free to criticize our president. War or no war. The issue with the MAGA Republican criticism regarding Russia and Ukraine is that they are positioning themselves against freedom and democracy to the extent of undermining American leadership.
It should be easy to stand for freedom and support a president’s actions defending western values. But this is too much to ask for the MAGA branch of the GOP. Cutting down President Biden and even western ideals has become their bread and butter. It seems they spend each hour of their waking day sniffing around for manufactured outrage they can blow up with histrionics and hysteria.
In the end, Republicans look weak and impotent as they side with a brutal dictator with whom we are effectively at war.