[guest post by Dana]
Of course he ran away from a yes vote:
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was the only senator to vote against a resolution on Wednesday backing Finland’s and Sweden’s entry to NATO. The Senate approved the resolution in a 95-1 vote…
He said he does not believe the U.S. should expand its security commitments in Europe, because America’s “greatest foreign adversary” is China.
Hawley argued that growing the country’s security commitments in Europe would make Americans less safe.
“Finland and Sweden want to join the Atlantic Alliance to head off further Russian aggression in Europe. That is entirely understandable given their location and security needs. But America’s greatest foreign adversary doesn’t loom over Europe. It looms in Asia,” Hawley wrote.
“I am talking of course about the People’s Republic of China. And when it comes to Chinese imperialism, the American people should know the truth: the United States is not ready to resist it. Expanding American security commitments in Europe now would only make that problem worse—and America, less safe,” he added.
“Finland and Sweden want to expand NATO because it is in their national security interest to do so, and fair enough. The question that should properly be before us, however, is, is it in the United States’s interests to do so? Because that’s what American foreign policy is supposed to be about, I thought,” Hawley said.
“Expanding NATO will require more United States forces in Europe, more manpower, more firepower, more resources, more spending. And not just now but over the long haul. But our greatest foreign adversary is not in Europe. Our greatest foreign adversary is in Asia. And when it comes to countering that adversary, we are behind the game. I’m talking, of course, about China. The communist government of Beijing has adopted a policy of imperialism,” he added.
I like how the St. Louis Dispatch editorial board summed it up:
His rationale is a retread of the case he once made against U.S. assistance to Ukraine: that containing Russian aggression somehow diminishes America’s readiness to confront future Chinese aggression. It’s a strained argument. Since when can’t America walk and chew gum at the same time, geopolitically speaking?
Reminder to Hawley: This is America, dude.
Hawley’s condemnation of China for “dominating its neighbors and bullying free nations into doing its bidding” is valid but could just as accurately describe Russia today. And unlike China, the Russian threat against freedom isn’t speculative, but is unfolding right now in Ukraine.
The senator who sprinted through the Capitol ahead of a mob that was partly of his own making doesn’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to sound judgment. Putting more guardrails around Vladimir Putin in the form of NATO-member neighbors is a sign of strength and solidarity by the free world — and a far more useful message to China regarding that solidarity than the one Hawley is hawking.
Anyway, Mitch McConnell called a yes vote for Sweden and Finland a slam-dunk:
“If any senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote no, I wish them good luck,” McConnell said Wednesday. “This is a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support.”
Interestingly, while there are rumblings that the Trumpian Hawley may run in 2024, three other possible contenders (Cruz, Cotton, and Rubio) criticized their colleague for his no vote.
Note: Even Sen. Rand Paul, who opposed the last two additions to NATO, voted “present” on Finland and Sweden.