What happens when NATO meets the Freedom Caucus?

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The Outcome of NATO’s Meeting with the Freedom Caucus

Visitors, including candidates, lobbyists, and political contributors, often visit Republicans in Washington, DC, and make boasts about their dedication to border security and tax cuts.

It is not often that one of those foreigners has served as the leader of Denmark.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former prime minister of Denmark, recently spoke about his small-government principles, which drew the attention of certain conservative members of the House. Rasmussen informed them that he had limited immigration and kept taxes low while serving as prime minister, positions that even the conservative Freedom Caucus might support.
Recalling the meeting’s co-organizer, Colorado Representative Ken Buck, “He was trying to draw parallels with Republican ideology.” P.
After that, Rasmussen got down to business, making an impassioned case for helping Ukraine.

The meeting between a Western leader and vocal conservatives in the United States reflected the underlying strains in the transatlantic security partnership and may have foreshadowed the further strain that existing alliances could experience under a second Trump administration. Even on extremely delicate issues of national security, Rasmussen—a former head of NATO—had a brief encounter with the bare-bones transactional politics that currently rule the United States Congress.

What happens when NATO meets the Freedom Caucus?

At least two members of the Freedom Caucus were among the group that met with Rasmussen, and according to Buck and others there, they listened to him out with grace and even sympathy. They agreed with his assessment that the United States might demonstrate its determination to China by maintaining its stance against Russia. The harsh condemnation of the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, which Rasmussen saw as a costly mistake that empowered anti-democratic forces and paved the way for the invasion of Ukraine, resounded even more loudly.
The most forthright speaker was North Carolina Representative Greg Murphy, a 60-year-old physician who spelled out his unfiltered political calculations.

As a condition for supporting Ukraine, the lawmaker told Rasmussen, a crackdown on the Mexican border was necessary. While Murphy acknowledged Rasmussen’s validity in his assessment of the situation in Ukraine, he maintained that the provision of funds for the conflict was an important bargaining chip in his separate policy discussion with President Joe Biden.
Those were the same words Murphy used when we discussed the meeting. He laid the blame for Biden’s “invitation his own country to be invaded” by migrants on Biden and claimed that the problem of Ukraine was the most effective means of pressuring the president into action.

“You have to use them when you have fulcrums,” he remarked. “Unfortunately, given the situation in Ukraine, we have to make do with what we have.”

Washington is no stranger to that style of administration. For many years, it has been an inevitable part of political campaigns involving lawmakers. However, this kind of escalating tensions has grown both commonplace and risky. The demands of lawmakers who refuse to budge have increased. They have also considered the actual repercussions of their conduct and the dangers they are prepared to accept.

Shutting down the government due to a disagreement about spending was once seen to be very extreme. Suddenly, a policy conflict unconnected to Europe’s future security is being used as a negotiating chip.

This strategy is yielding results at the moment.

This strategy is succeeding because, unlike in previous legislative staring contests, many Americans care more about ensuring the continued stability of financial markets and the timely delivery of Social Security payments than they do about maintaining the flow of weapons and funds to Ukraine. The leading American war advocates have only made sporadic attempts to sway public opinion in their favor. Over the past few months, Biden has made hardly any effort.

What happens when NATO meets the Freedom Caucus?

Even if Ukraine were to collapse, it’s far from certain that the majority of voters would hold politicians responsible for the war’s derailers to account.

“My constituents are inquiring about the final destination.” It was Buck who informed me. “The cost of maintaining a perpetual conflict in this region is not something we are willing to continue bearing.”

Jens Stoltenberg, who took over as secretary general of NATO from Rasmussen last week, also ran into the same impasse. Stoltenberg visited Washington, DC, and spoke at the conservative Heritage Foundation, where he advocated for Ukraine. Similar to Rasmussen, he praised American strength as a deterrent to Russia and China and emphasized that the process of arming Ukraine was supporting American businesses and providing American jobs.
However, Stoltenberg received a reception similar to that of Rasmussen. Heritage president Kevin Roberts began the event by stating that additional help for Ukraine will not be granted until the border “is at least as secure as it was a few years ago.” Such an ultimatum would be unsurpassable by any means, including the transatlantic alliance and even narrow economic concerns.

Two things have been clear for some time: first, whether Biden will back a new set of border policies and pay the ransom Republicans are demanding, and second, whether Republicans will accept “yes” as an answer even if it means giving Biden a political victory. Only then will American funding for Ukraine be determined.

What happens when NATO meets the Freedom Caucus?

The first question’s solution is now clear. During the Senate deliberations, Biden made it clear that he would sign tighter immigration laws into law if Congress passed them. Democratic officials appear to be viewing this as an opportunity to allay the fears of swing voters on the state of the border, notwithstanding progressive concerns.

The second issue is still not settled: whether or not Republicans are willing to approve a bipartisan border compromise. It will be interesting to watch how many Republicans support the compromise that the Senate negotiators have achieved.

Trump has ruined the border discussions, and many Republicans in Congress are afraid to disagree with him. It would not be surprising if Trump’s opposition to a deal sprang from a desire to keep Biden weak on immigration, even if he has denied this.

It would be an exceptionally cynical act for Republicans to block many border policies they support — and sabotage Ukraine in the process — out of concern that a deal could strengthen Biden. It is one thing to hold Ukraine funding hostage to a border-security agreement. Turning down a ransom demand is a whole different ballgame.

Murphy, for one, was not among those ready to reject a Senate-brokered deal, sight unseen. He told me last week that his interest level in a legislative package that funded Ukraine and tightened controls at the southern border would be “high.”

If such frank talk of bartering with European security shocked Rasmussen, the former NATO chief did not show it to Murphy and Buck. That, too, might be an indication of how commonplace specific forms of dysfunction in the United States have grown.

A long time has passed for him in politics, Murphy remarked of his foreign guest. “He didn’t like the answer, but he understands.”


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