Escape checkmate on border control, Ukraine

Where, oh, where is the Republican Party of Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, historic U.S. hawks? How did it become the party of Charles Lindbergh, the notorious isolationist of the 1930s?

Lindbergh campaigned vigorously against foreign entanglements right up until Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Further, he believed that Germany’s military might would prevail in any World War II. He was a primary spokesman for the America First movement. Lindbergh saved his reputation in history by volunteering for combat missions in the Pacific in 1944.

Ike and Ronnie knew history. They fully understood that dictator bullies understood only superior force to stop their invasions and butchery. They built and applied overwhelming military muscle to spike the maniacal brutality of Hitler and Stalin.

Trump is today’s Lindbergh. His under-educated brain sees Vladimir Putin as some kind of brilliant buddy. That’s the Putin whose troops have inflicted unspeakable war crimes against innocent Ukrainian civilians, including tens of thousands of women and children. The Russian troop’s atrocities match those of the Hamas terrorists who invaded Israel.

In contrast, President Reagan was clear-eyed when he described Russia under dictators as “the Evil Empire.” (See Reagan pictured left during his famous 1987 “Tear Down this Wall” speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.)

Does Trump read the reports from the front in Ukraine? He doesn’t read much; it’s hard to read in depth when you are glued to the TV set and when you are jabbering away on social media at all hours of the day and night about why he is the victim of today.

Does he read history? The answer is “no.” His biographer wrote that he never reads a book. Illegal atrocity in war is some kind of non-event for him. It has nothing to do with his egotistical needs and his thought processes.

Given the clear reality on how his mind works, or doesn’t, how can the Wisconsin delegation of six Republican congressmen follow his lead on cutting off our support of Ukraine? If he is oblivious to the history of dictators, why aren’t our Republican representatives – Fitzgerald, Gallagher, Grothman, Van Orden, Steil, Tiffany and Sen. Ron Johnson – serving as the leavening adults to his strategy-void agenda that would hand Ukraine and its pro-democracy citizens to Putin? Without U.S. military aid, Ukraine could succumb to Russia’s pounding of its cities and citizens.

We have sent just enough arms and munitions to Ukraine’s military over the last two years to force Russia to a stalemate. For Putin, who lusts for all of Ukraine, a stalemate is a staggering strategic loss.

Somehow, the Republican right wing has lost the hawkish soul that once defined the party. The GOP-controlled house has used support of Ukraine in hostage to southern border legislation. As they fiddle with political gamesmanship, the Ukrainian warriors are running out of artillery shells, drones, and anti-aircraft missiles. They are fighting with one hand behind their backs.

Where have our congressmen parked their brains and backbones? There is no connection whatsoever between the history-defining war against Ukraine on the border of NATO and what happens with our border with Mexico – none. Further, It has become disgustingly obvious that Trump and his lapdogs in Congress don’t want a workable compromise on border control. They want the continuing “invasion” of immigrants from the south as a campaign issue for November.

In fairness, the Republican pressure has moved President Biden to a belated, hardened position on illegal immigration. Biden’s handlers know he has to take that issue away from Trump, and they are doing just that. The GOP right has played into his hands on what was their best issue.

If I were Biden, I would do whatever I could by executive order, within reason, to stiffen the border. The United States, like any country, needs secure borders. The president, then, would own the border issue, not the Trumpers.

How should the Wisconsin delegation resolve that checkmate by the Democrats?

Led by our two warrior representatives, Marine Mike Gallagher and Special Ops veteran Derrick Van Orden, they should break ranks with Trump GOP Congressional leaders and get military help to Ukraine ASAP. We have to be there for the long pull against Putin.

That means detaching military support for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan from border politics. A big majority of Americans support Ukraine’s defense of democracy and rules-based international order. The majority generally knows that we are spending only a small fraction of our annual defense budget – about 5% — on this history-changing conflict. We are trying to prevent Russian aggression akin to Pearl Harbor, such as a surprise attack on a NATO country.

The Wisconsin Republicans could lead the party to a double win: successful defense of Ukraine and effective border control. But they would have to stand up to former President Trump, who is losing his marbles. Right now, they look to be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Wisconsin GOP should just do what Ike and Ronny would do.

(Torinus is a former Marine artillery officer and Congressional Fellow)

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