Wisconsin Republicans soft on Putin

Mike Gallagher left Congress Saturday as a traditional Republican after his pivotal vote to support Ukraine against Vladimir Putin. He was a hawk during his eight years in Washington, in contrast to the rest of the Wisconsin GOP delegation that has gone soft on Putin.

A veteran Marine officer and expert on foreign policy, Gallagher voted in favor of sending a $61 billion aid package to Ukraine for its war against the Russian invaders. The other six Republican congressmen from Wisconsin voted no. What were they thinking, or not thinking?

The Ukrainians under Vladimir Zelenskyy have forced the much larger Russian armed forces into a stalemate after their initial invasion of eastern Ukraine more than two years ago. Fortunately, a bipartisan majority in Congress voted to continue support for Ukraine with weapons and munitions to inflict major damage on the Russian Army and Navy.

The U. S. support appeared to be coming to a halt when the extremist right-wing of the Republican Party took a pacifist stance, following the lead of Donald Trump who has always been enamored by Putin, no matter how ruthless he is toward his neighbors.

Russian propaganda appears to be more convincing to Republican Reps. Fitzgerald, Grothman, Tiffany, Steil and Van Orden, and Sen. Ron Johnson than foreign policy experts who think like Gallagher.

The bipartisan coalition of Democrat and Republican representatives came to the rescue of the Ukrainian defense last week in a 311-112 vote to resupply the valiant Ukrainian forces. The isolationist six were in a weak minority in both Houses.

The three Democrats in the Wisconsin delegation voted against Putin.

I very much doubt that Republican voters in Washington County agree with their current Congressman Scott Fitzgerald or their former congressman Glenn Grothman on their pro-Putin vote. Here are three important considerations:

  • American troops have not been sent there. We are sending dollars and bullets, not American fighters.
  • This $61 billion is about 7% of one year’s U. S. defense budget, a small investment in inflicting great damage on the Russian war machine.
  • Russia is still our biggest enemy in the world, even though China looms as our biggest competitor in global economics and world leadership. Russia interferes with our elections, harbors hackers and fiercely opposes NATO, our alliance partnership that has kept the world free of major wars since WWII.

Wisconsin Republicans complain that the southern border issue is more important than the Ukraine invasion. That is a bit strange in a state that sees very little in-migration. It is also strange that these same congressmen listened to Trump and torpedoed a bipartisan compromise that would have hardened our southern border.

Trump didn’t want a solution to the immigration issue; he wants to keep the issue alive for the November election. The Ukrainian and immigration issues are entirely separate matters. Go figure.

The same large majority that gave support to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan needs to come together again and pass the border compromise.

As for the fate of Speaker Mike Johnson, let’s give him credit for doing the right thing in terms of defending American allies. The extremist wing of the Republican Party is making noises about ousting him as Speaker.

Let’s push the Wisconsin delegation to keep him in place. Finally, we have a leader with a backbone who understands compromise and working across the aisle.

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