It’s been a banner week for Republicans and Democrats coming together in solidarity – with the overwhelming approval by the Senate for Sweden and Finland’s inclusion into NATO. This comes on the heels of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, which also had Republicans locking arms with their Democrat counterparts in a rare sign of almost universal agreement.

It’s a shame we can’t get the same kind of cooperation on domestic issues, but I suppose we should take bipartisanship where we can get it. However, one Senator stood against the pack, voting no; Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri. (Technically, two, if you count Senator Rand Paul’s “Present” vote.)

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There always has to be one that rocks the boat; in this case, Senator Hawley has willingly accepted that role. Is he bucking the tide to keep his name relevant for a possible presidential run, or does he feel that perhaps we should be focusing our efforts elsewhere?

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Containment Versus Expansion

Senator Hawley argues with his no vote that we should focus on who he believes is our most significant threat to national security: China. Instead of expanding resources in the European region, he argues we should focus on containing China in the pacific. 

In an op-ed, Senator Hawley lays out the reasoning behind his no vote, summarizing:

“NATO expansion would almost certainly mean more U.S. forces in Europe for the long haul.”

A proponent of what former President Trump espoused, Hawley believes that other countries should be pulling their fair share of the weight to ensure world stability. As Mr. Hawley goes on to state:

“Until our European allies make the necessary commitments to their own national defense, we must not put more American lives at risk in Europe while allowing China’s power to grow unchecked.”

It’s fair to note that while Russia continues its campaign to envelope Ukraine and push further west, China has been building up its capabilities. What is Mr. Hawley so concerned about?

Let’s take a quick trip to the other side of the globe to see what he’s referring to.

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The Enemy In Our Backyard

The recent trip to Taiwan by Speaker Pelosi has raised the ire of China, and there is no doubt the Chinese recent live-fire drills in response are a sign of things to come. The question is, when will their aggression reach a tipping point?

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China has been trying to undermine our efforts for a long time, and more covertly than we’ve seen in the past. For example, recently, I reported on how China has been gobbling up land right here in the U.S.A., near strategic military installations. 

In 2019, the Department of Agriculture reported that China had purchased over 192,000 acres of American farmland. Coupled with their attempts to infiltrate our institutions of higher learning and their build-up of military capabilities, one could argue we’ve been in a soft war with China for many years. But, unfortunately, we don’t appear to be winning.

Speaking of winners and losers, a recent war game that pitted the United States against China in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan had us at best locked in a protracted war and, at worst, a nuclear engagement with the Asian superpower.

Mr. Hawley discusses this in his op-ed when he writes:

“…more than three decades after the Soviet Union’s fall, the geopolitical landscape is different. Russia is still a threat, but the Chinese Communist Party is a far greater one.”

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However, the counterargument is that expanding NATO shows strength to both Russia and China. 

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A Good Question

The overwhelming support by Republicans was a win for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Senator McConnell said of the vote:

“There is just no question that admitting these robust democratic countries with modern economies and capable, interoperable militaries will only strengthen the most successful military alliance in human history.”

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Already both countries participate in NATO missions, and Finland does meet the feeble 2% GDP spending target on defense requirements. Mr. McConnell goes on to argue:

“Even closer cooperation with these partners will help us counter Russia and China. Their accession will make NATO stronger and America more secure.”

It’s hard to see any tangible way that adding Sweden and Finland will counter China. And Russia isn’t too happy about the idea, stating in June that if the two countries join NATO, they will position nuclear weapons along their northwestern border. 

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said of the vote:

“The real question today is whether adding two capable and strong nations to our mutual defense pact will make us stronger or weaker.”

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That is an excellent question, Mr. Cotton.

Writing Checks Our Military Can’t Cash

I catch some flak sometimes for my position on foreign policy. But, as a military woman who spent 20 years in uniform, I believe in a strong and lethal defense. 

I have no love for communists or oppressors, and I believe we must always portray strength when it comes to our adversaries, particularly Russia and China. The problem is that we are in no way prepared to fight a war with China, let alone China and Russia. 

Allow me to list the reasons why:

Let’s not forget Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ recent ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Summer Festival,’ which I am sure had our Chinese and Russian counterparts shaking in their boots. 

I agree with Mr. Hawley in part when he ends his op-ed discussing the changed geopolitical landscape from 70 years ago with:

“…a truly strategic American foreign policy – one that looks to this nation’s strategic interests now, rather than the world of years ago – must embrace this reality, and prepare for it.”

Hopefully, we will start preparing for what is inevitably around the corner soon. Otherwise, we may be stretched too thin over promises we cannot sustain.

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