Ron DeSantis, the Ukraine Migraine, and Our National Interest – The American Spectator

Another week without World War III kicking off in full makes this a pretty good week.

Forget about the bank failures, the collapsing American prestige as China plays peacemaker in the Persian Gulf, the southern border chaos escalating, and the utter destruction of institutions like Stanford Law School. Before Joe Biden came along, those things popping off like New Year’s Eve fireworks would signal a disastrous week.

But such a judgment runs on pre-Biden standards. Now, what constitutes a good week is that Biden and the Washington “smart” set don’t bumble us into World War III. Because should we find ourselves in World War III against what will likely then be an axis of Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela, not to mention a few others of note, our military in its current woke state will lose, and we will not emerge from that conflict a global superpower.

There are, by my quick count, 99 weeks left before Inauguration Day in January of 2025. We’ve got to go 99 for 99 in not face-planting into World War III before there is the possibility that a leader possessed with some measure of wisdom and integrity and intellect might be in charge of America.

Going 99 for 99 with Joe Biden and his handlers at the helm seems an almost fanciful ambition. But they managed it this week — at least as of Thursday night. That makes this a good week, albeit one full of disasters.

Which brings us to the primary course of concern with World War III, or the possibility of it landing on us.

One of the persistent themes of this column is that we are a nation governed by people who suck, which is the unvarnished truth, but there are exceptions.

Ron DeSantis is one of them, though, unless you live in Florida, you are not governed by Ron DeSantis.

He happens to be something newly rare in American politics — namely, that DeSantis served in the military and got a little taste of what war is like, serving as a JAG officer while advising Navy SEALS in Fallujah and Al Anbar Province during the Iraq troop surge in 2007. Armed with that experience, something Joe Biden and most of his cabal of handlers don’t have, DeSantis said some things about the Ukraine war and our involvement in it that have infuriated the chickenhawk brigade inside the Beltway.

He called the Ukraine war a territorial conflict. That’s exactly what it is. Russia might want to swallow all of Ukraine, which would fall under the ambit of territorial ambition, but it’s likely that something short of that goal would induce Vladimir Putin to cease his assault on his neighbor to the west. Is it the Donbas? Is it Odessa? A land bridge to Crimea?

Yes, it’s a territorial dispute, and if any of our diplomatic leaders were even remotely wise, we would be seeking to create peace out of the space in which there might be some adjustment of the border between the two countries.

You might find that distasteful — land for peace — but before you object too vociferously, feel free to state whether you’re willing to get into a direct shooting war with the Russians, and in all reasonable likelihood the Chinese, the Venezuelans, the Saudis, and the Iranians, who’ll either become combatants or will engage in war by other means against us, over the Donbas.

Which leads us to something else DeSantis said, which is that Ukraine is not a vital American national interest.

And it isn’t.

If it was, we would have let Ukraine into NATO. We didn’t. We’ve had three decades to do it and we haven’t done it yet.

It’s a rich agricultural country that is nonetheless dirt poor by European standards, it’s Third World–corrupt, and it’s run by an unstable loudmouth drunk on unaccountable American swag. Never in our history has so unworthy a basket case commanded so much of our treasure. Even South Vietnam had a better argument, though Saigon was never the laundromat for connected Beltway crooks that Kyiv is.

DeSantis is now being crucified by the D.C. smart set, both on the Republican and Democrat sides, including by clowns like Henry Olsen of the Washington Post and Ed Kilgore of New York Magazine. And he’s catching flak from both Nikki Haley and Kamala Harris, neither of whom have any military experience (to be sure!) to match his own. It doesn’t matter. He’s right, and he’s to be commended for — and they’ll hate to hear someone saying this — speaking truth to power.

Kurt Schlichter was also right when he addressed this in his latest column:

Barring a peace treaty or some bizarre black swan event like a meteor flattening the Kremlin, the best case in the fall of 2024 is that the stalemate continues. The second worst case is that a Russian offensive drives the Ukrainians back. The very worst case is that a Russian offensive drives the Ukrainians back and the geniuses who brought you Baghdad and Kabul pour in American forces to try to stop the Ukrainian collapse.

DeSantis has taken the smart strategic position and the smart political position. He has shown leadership, because the American people will soon come to be where he is now, and they will do so around the time when the election gets into high gear.

The Ukrainians have to do what the Ukrainians have to do – I do not blame them for trying to wring dough and bombs out of Uncle Sucker. Nor am I upset that they appear to prefer to fight and die rather than enter into negotiations that will leave Russians on their territory. I get it. They are patriots supporting their country. But we normal Americans are patriots too, and our country is the United States. We expect Ukraine to pursue its national interests, but we expect America’s leadership to pursue America’s national interests. And it is in our national interest to get this war ended, even if it means Putin holds ground his forces conquered.

The whiners will whine that this is a betrayal of Ukraine. It’s not. We cannot betray a country that it not our own. It is instead a rational and ruthless bit of realpolitik – we must pursue America’s interests, not Ukraine’s. Ending this war is in America’s interest.

Again, I support Ukraine in both the abstract and practice – I would give them some aid. Ron DeSantis would too, just not aid that could expand the war. But it is clear that now America’s national interest is in forcing peace down both belligerent’s throats.

Something else Schlichter said is interesting and worth noting. He mentioned that the people now screeching at DeSantis are the people who have talked him up as an alternative to Donald Trump, and Schlichter looks at his Ukraine statements as a signal that the dreams of co-opting Ron DeSantis are going unfulfilled.

At best, that’s an early return, but it’s quite possibly correct. DeSantis’ statements and actions have been steadfastly opposite of those that the Beltway elite has demanded from him. In that, he’s doing damage to the narrative from the Trump set that he’s a globalist/establishment plant.

He isn’t. Which may or may not qualify him to supplant Trump as the GOP nominee. But regardless of the outcome of the presidential race, DeSantis is not for a blank check or an escalation in Ukraine, and that makes him better than the people we’re currently praying can go the next 99 weeks without starting World War III.


Bye, Mike

Vivek Ramaswamy Isn’t Always Right, But He’s Usually Interesting

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