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DeSantis/Trump Vs. the Dems, the Neocons, and Much of the GOP Regarding Ukraine

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Via a questionnaire sent by Fox News host Tucker Carlson to potential Republican candidates for president in 2024 regarding the war in Ukraine, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded in part: “While the U.S. has many vital national interests — securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party — becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them. The Biden administration's virtual "blank check" funding of this conflict for "as long as it takes," without any defined objectives or accountability, distracts from our country's most pressing challenges.”


Governor DeSantis next warned of a subject which we seem almost forbidden to discuss or acknowledge.  That being accidently slow-walking ourselves into a real war with Russia.  Stressed the Governor in part: "The U.S. should not provide assistance that could require the deployment of American troops or enable Ukraine to engage in offensive operations beyond its borders.  F-16s and long-range missiles should therefore be off the table.  These moves would risk explicitly drawing the United States into the conflict and drawing us closer to a hot war between the world's two largest nuclear powers.  That risk is unacceptable."

I will do the Governor one better.  It's Insane.  

Not surprisingly, a number of people from the left who seemingly want to use Ukraine as a military proxy to defeat Russia immediately went after DeSantis.  The New York Times reported in part that Desantis had “sharply broken with Republicans who are determined to defend Ukraine against Russia’s invasion...”  New York Magazine said: “Ron DeSantis thrills Tucker Carlson by taking pro-Russia stance...”  Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg echoed that theme by adding: “On Ukraine, DeSantis sides with Putin over the West.” 

Partisan cheap shots to be sure but expected. 

What might be more surprising to most Democrats and some Republicans were the responses to the DeSantis statement from some fellow Republicans and alleged conservatives.  


Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, former South Carolina Governor, and now declared candidate for the Republican nomination in 2024 Nikki Haley took an immediate shot at DeSantis by saying: “President Trump is right when he says Governor DeSantis is copying him – first in his style, then on entitlement reform, and now on Ukraine.  I have a different style than President Trump, and while I agree with him on most policies, I do not on those...America is far better off with a Ukrainian victory than a Russian victory.”  

Former Republican Representative Liz Cheney – who does not count anymore for most Republicans and only counts for many Democrats if she is slamming Trump or DeSantis – accused DeSantis of “Weakness.”  In response to the New York Times, Cheney added: “Surrendering to Putin and refusing to defend freedom makes America less safe.” 

A day after the DeSantis statement, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – a politician seen by some as willing to deplete the U.S. Treasury and weapons stores to defeat Putin – said in part: “Giving in to Putin in Ukraine, in terms of national security interests, is Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan on steroids.” 

For former Governor Haley, the New York Times, Liz Cheney, New York Magazine, Senator Graham, and the greater “Neo-Con” wing in the U.S., I have several quick, but I believe critically important points to make.  The first being, do you remember that a few weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, asking fair – and needed -- questions about alleged corruption in the country; off-shore bank accounts; fake news being disseminated by the Ukrainian leadership; flawed military strategies; billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars disappearing; if regime change in Russia was the ultimate goal with Ukraine being used as a proxy; and that increased likelihood of triggering a nuclear war could get you shouted down or accused – like DeSantis now – of being “Pro-Putin” and “Pro-Russia.”  


At what point in the United States of America did it become “unpatriotic” to simply ask questions or hold a differing opinion about policies which could impact every single American? 

Next, with regard to the very real possibility of triggering a nuclear strike or war, I would suggest to those pushing us deeper into this conflict to look up World War I; the chain of seemingly insignificant miscalculations and events which lead to the “Great War;” and the 21,000,000 dead as a result of those particular trip-wires being stepped upon. 

Next, if this is all about protecting the people of Ukraine, how in the world are those people better off today than over a year ago?  With each passing day, their infrastructure is being reduced to rubble; their energy cut off; there have been over 100,000 Ukrainian military casualties and over 40,000 civilian casualties; with over 5 million fleeing the nation.  How much higher a price do you want those people to pay from the safety of your home or office thousands of miles away from the battlefield?  

Over one year ago in the Sun newspaper in London, I suggested that world leaders call for an immediate ceasefire and then let the nations of the world speak out in defense of the people of Ukraine.  Others called for the same action but were drowned out.  

Last, to Governor Haley, the New York Times, Liz Cheney, New York Magazine, Senator Graham, the greater “Neo-Con” wing in the U.S. and all who want to escalate U.S. involvement in this war, I would ask if you are paying attention to recent chilling headlines which state: “Russia blames U.S. for ‘hostile” flights near its borders after forcing down U.S. drone.”  “Russian official calls presence of U.S. drone over international waters near Russian borders ‘openly hostile.’”  Or even more worrisome, the statement by Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov: “We consider any action with the use of U.S. weaponry as openly hostile.”  


To the critically important point made by Governor DeSantis: We are being drawn closer to an actual war with Russia.  

Putin was wrong to invade Ukraine.  Full stop. 

But, like it or not, we are talking about the growing possibility of a trip wire being stepped upon which could trigger a nuclear strike.     

Governor DeSantis – along with former President Trump -- deserves to be heard out on this subject. More importantly, our deepening involvement in this increasingly dangerous geopolitical mess must be vigorously debated before it is too late.  

That, is the American way.  

 Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of the book: The 56 – Liberty Lessons from those who risked all to sign The Declaration of Independence. 

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