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Conservative George Will Excoriates ‘Putin Wing’ of U.S. House GOP

At a time when most politicians and conservative writers are hesitant to take on Donald Trump, conservative author George Will comes forth to speak the truth: So, 112 ignoble, infantile Republicans voted to endanger civilization [1] (Washington Post).

His column caught my attention because my congressman, Ben Cline (R-6th CD), had been one of only two reps from the 11-member Virginia U.S. House delegation who voted no on last weekend’s Ukraine aid bill. The other, not surprisingly, was Bob Good (R-5th CD). To say I was disappointed was an understatement.

I contacted Rep. Cline to ask that he vote for badly-needed aid for Ukraine – our ally that was invaded by Russia over two years ago and has not asked for boots-on-the-ground help but, instead, ammo and weapons, as they fight their much-larger neighbor. He voted against it but I wasn’t surprised. What was surprising was how out of step he and Good were in Virginia.

So George Will’s thoughts on the subject piqued my interest and, indeed, he didn’t mince words: “Stoking the passion that is their excuse for pandering — the nihilism of a febrile minority in their party — a majority of House Republicans [2] voted last Saturday to endanger civilization,” and noted, “… they voted to assure Vladimir Putin’s attempt to erase a European nation.”

Keeping in mind that he was writing about the group of Republicans that included my congressman, it was quite the take-down from the longtime conservative who sounds as if he has had it with these Putin-enabling politicians.

On Saturday, the House voted 311-112 [3] for $61 billion for Ukraine, with 112 ignoble House Republicans [4] voting to condemn Ukraine to death, starved of such military basics as artillery shells. How many of the 112 know or care that more than half the $61 billion [5] will fund restocking U.S. munitions inventories, as well as Ukraine’s purchases of U.S. weapons?

Indeed, even Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-9th CD), who sided with Cline the evening after 1/6 in voting against certification of the 2020 presidential election and is a member of the “freedom” caucus along with Cline and Good, voted for Ukrainian aid, perhaps because his “Fightin’ Ninth” district would benefit with a contract from the government [6].

As the March anniversary of the death of my mother’s older brother in the closing days of World War II passed a few weeks ago, it was a reminder of American boots-on-the-ground in Europe and the loss of many young U.S. military members (March 21, 1945: A Day My Grandmother Never Forgot [7]). Sending ammunition to Ukraine is far preferable to losing American lives across the sea.

Will closes his bluntly honest discussion with this:

The Economist columnist Charlemagne says [8] Ukraine’s defeat would be a “Suez moment” for the West. Meaning, a humbling demonstration of waning power. Two months ago, Estonian intelligence said: “Russians in their own thinking are calculating that military conflict with NATO is possible in the next decade.” Josep Borrell [9], the European Union’s chief diplomat, says [10]: “A high-intensity, conventional war in Europe is no longer a fantasy.”

Today’s Moscow-Beijing-Tehran axis is, as the 1930s Axis was, watching. Johns Hopkins foreign policy analyst Hal Brands, writing for Bloomberg [11], reminds us: “Italy’s invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 encouraged Hitler to send his military back into the Rhineland in 1936, just as Germany’s blitzkrieg through Western Europe in 1940 emboldened Japan to press into Southeast Asia.”

We can now see that the great unraveling that was World War II perhaps began with Japan’s 1931 invasion of Manchuria [12]. Without the benefit of retrospection, we cannot be certain that World War III has not begun.

Why did 100 Republicans see the reasoning in continuing Ukrainian aid … and 112 did not? If we forget history, we are doomed to repeat it. I truly don’t want to see a repeat of World War II after 80 years of relative peace.