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Ron DeSantis has shown plenty of leadership as Florida’s governor, but he’s sure dodging the challenge when it comes to the war in Ukraine.
In a written response to questions from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, DeSantis hedged: “While the U.S. has many vital national interests … becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.”
Fine: America faces no direct threat from Russia.
But this is far more than “a territorial dispute.”
Vladimir Putin claims that all of Ukraine properly belongs to Moscow, refusing to acknowledge Kyiv’s sovereignty.
This is a naked attack on the entire world order — and thus on a vital US interest.
And “territorial dispute” is a pretty lame way to describe an unprovoked invasion that’s included savage attacks on civilians and a host of other war crimes.
If Putin succeeds in Ukraine, it’ll show other regimes (China, Iran, etc.) that aggression works.
And Russia itself will look to move on other nations, including NATO allies America’s obliged to defend.
Beating Putin, or even just crippling his war machine, is defending America.
DeSantis must know that, but he’s hedging rather than risk losing voters who don’t get it. (Understandably enough, since President Joe Biden also refuses to make the case.)
Nor does supporting Ukraine “entangle” America in any way.
It’s not making Putin any more our enemy than he already was, and nothing (except good sense) can stop Washington from “getting out” tomorrow.
DeSantis was on safer ground when he slammed Biden’s “virtual ‘blank check’ funding of this conflict for ‘as long as it takes,’ without any defined objectives or accountability.”
The president’s been a bit confused on the details since before Moscow invaded, when Biden tried to deter Putin by threatening sanctions when he should’ve been rushing arms to Kyiv.
Nor does the war “distract from our country’s most pressing challenges,” as DeSantis says, and many on the right echo in a frustrating false logic.
A nation with a $7 trillion budget and more than 2 million federal civilian employees can send aid to Ukraine and chew gum at the same time; Biden just doesn’t want to handle those challenges.
At least DeSantis didn’t go full Trump and declare himself firmly isolationist on Ukraine, much as left-wing media may pretend.
But the fact that outlets like The New York Times want to pretend he did is a clear sign the gov needs to correct course and show real backbone here — to lead, not dodge.
DeSantis hasn’t even launched his campaign yet, so he has room to fix this mistake.
But he won’t win the GOP nomination by dodging the tough questions.