The Biden-DeSantis Re-Balancing Act

A new era of normality and stability is possible. Let’s nurture it.

Biden and DeSantis speak with Florida residents impacted by Hurricane Ian on October 5, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

For a written statement on foreign policy from a potential presidential candidate, it was, I suppose, a big deal. The salient sentence from Governor Ron DeSantis:

While the U.S. has many vital national interests — securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness with 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.

It’s open to some interpretation. DeSantis says the Ukraine war is not in the “vital national interests” of the US, but is it maybe still in our general interests? Not clear. And he commits to no further entanglement, which could mean sticking with where we are now, but no more. Sure: no F-16s. But that’s also Biden’s position.

“Territorial dispute?” That set a lot of people off. But of course it’s undeniably, at some level, a border dispute. The entire post-Soviet settlement was a redrawing of national borders — and marked an extraordinarily rapid advance of Western arms and allies to the edge of Russia itself. In any kind of perspective, the current war has come at the end of that now-disputed settlement, and is indeed a debate over where Russia ends and Ukraine — which literally means “borderland” — begins. DeSantis didn’t blame Ukraine for its self-defense. He didn’t defend Putin. He merely proffered a different view of vital US national interests in the medium-term.

The gall!

The Blob declared another “Munich!” — an ancient neocon ritual — and declared the DeSantis candidacy all-but-over. Chris Christie called DeSantis “Neville Chamberlain”; Chuck Schumer asked, “I have to wonder what [DeSantis] would’ve thought if he was around in the 1930s”; Jenn Rubin called DeSantis “pro-Putin”; and the WSJ warned of a return to “isolationism in the 1930s.” This morning, the WaPo dusted down and wheeled out their perennial “appeasement!” editorial. And we got a French-Brooks double-whammy direct from 1983. Churchill envy never dies.


Leave a Reply