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Craig Shirley on Conservative Opposition to More Ukraine Funding

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."



  • Craig Shirley

  • American foreign policy

  • Biden foreign policy

  • Biden Ukraine policy

  • Ukraine Russia war

  • Vladmir Putin

  • Ukrainian corruption

  • neoconservatives

  • Ronald Reagan

  • American military

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6 Comments


hansslade4
hansslade4
Feb 05, 2023

Why is Washington unwilling to get an audit of everything we have sent to Ukraine? I think Americans should withhold their tax money until we find out how much of our hard earned money has been wasted on ignored fraud and abuse. Until there is sunlight forced on government spending we are all funding a vast criminal enterprise.

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allergg
allergg
Feb 05, 2023

Russia will simiply not give up Crimea . It's just too important to Russia generally and to Putin individually . However , we need to encourage Putin to get out of Ukraine . To the argument that there is corruption in Ukraine , i say 'So what' . There's corruption in every country on Earth . Our considerations of Ukraine should not by be based on Ukraine's internal problems . Ukraine does not want to be part of a revised Soviet Union . That alone is important to us . It is in the interest of ALL of Europe that Ukraine stay fr…

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Every American should be upset by foreign agent Biden's runaway spending on corrupt Ukraine. Mark my words, it is just a matter of time until Biden gives them those jet fighters and the like.

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Hope Funk
Hope Funk
Feb 03, 2023

Spending in support of Ukraine can be a strategic cost saving measure if done correctly, and I agree that more through analysis of defense contractor dollars is warranted. Overall, we can drive saving on defense costs because Ukraine is effectively bleeding Russian military assets. As they do so, we can change our defense paradigms to account for the decreased stores of armor, support vehicles, and ammunition that Russia needs to operate in a land theatre. US strategy has been shifting toward preparing for more conflict in the Asia Pacific region, which will require more naval and amphibious assets.


More importantly though, we can see this moment as a means of indirectly updating our defense portfolio because of the multilateral movements…

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I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Shirley. We are on the verge of sending sophisticated tanks to Ukraine that take special expertise to operate and maintain. I see this as a way to incrementally insert "advisors" as we did in Vietnam in 1959/60. We all know what that lead to. Ukraine has historically gotten a bad deal from Russia and I grieve for the innocent civilians that have and continue to suffer. However, as I look at the history of events that start and expand wars, I don't see much of an upside to our further involvement there. We must proceed with caution. I have little faith that that will happen with Joe Biden in the drivers seat.

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