Non-Interventionist Republicans Seek to Disrupt “Uniparty” Foreign Policy Consensus

Image courtesy of The American Conservative

 By Fabrizio Gowdy

The American Conservative magazine hosted its “Up From Chaos” conference at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Massachusetts Avenue Thursday, where members of Congress, congressional candidates, think tankers, journalists, and media personalities presented their vision for a more non-interventionist U.S. foreign policy. 

One common theme heard in speakers’ remarks throughout the day was skepticism of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Rep. Thomas Massie, a libertarian Republican from Kentucky, kicked off the lineup of speakers by calling on European nations to fully fund their own defense. “NATO’s ‘fair share’ is 100 percent,” said Rep. Massie. Other speakers, including venture capitalist David Sacks, blamed NATO for increasing tension in Eastern Europe and provoking Russia. Sacks compared Russia’s response to NATO to the way the U.S. might respond to hypothetical Russian intervention in Mexico.  

Another overarching message of the conference was the need to achieve American energy independence. Congressman Matt Rosendale, who represents oil-rich Montana, criticized President Biden for lifting U.S. sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany while suspending the Keystone XL pipeline between the U.S. and Canada. North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop echoed Rosendale’s allegation that Biden had hampered U.S. energy independence and also praised former President Trump for upending the long standing neoconservative foreign policy consensus within the GOP.

The conference also featured Republican candidates hoping to join Rosendale and Bishop in a new Republican congressional majority in January 2023. Former Marine, author, and investor JD Vance, a candidate in Ohio’s crowded Republican Senate primary, was a keynote speaker at the conference. In his remarks, Vance voiced his skepticism of the “expert class,” and urged the audience to “stop giving elite institutions prestige and legitimacy when they deserve neither.” 

Retired Special Forces officer and Gold Star husband Joe Kent is running a primary challenge against Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Butler in Washington’s third congressional district. Kent has attacked Butler as an “America-last RINO [Republican in name only]” while positioning himself as a non-interventionist and a populist. Addressing the conference virtually Thursday, Kent described Ukraine as a “buffer state” that should not be part of NATO or the European Union. Kent went further by saying the U.S. should stop giving aid to Ukraine and even called Russia’s desire to annex Russian-speaking parts of Eastern Ukraine “reasonable.” 

The conference’s message on Ukraine and NATO is representative of the divide over foreign policy within the Republican Caucus between neoconservatives and non-interventionists. In his speech to the conference, Republican Sen. Rand Paul called out fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham by name over Graham’s calls for the assasination of Russian President Vladamir Putin

Similarly, non-interventionist Republicans in Congress have butted heads with more hawkish GOP representatives like Rep. Adam Kinzinger over their calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. In a panel following Paul’s speech, The American Conservative’s Micah Meadowcroft warned that a no-fly zone would inevitably lead to World War III, arguing the Russian air force would be far more technologically advanced than the enemy forces on which the U.S. imposed a no-fly zone in Iraq.

One after another, speakers invoked the words of the Framers to oppose U.S. military interventions abroad, warning of costly foreign entanglements and “endless wars.” Multiple speakers quoted John Quincy Adams’ 1821 warning about America going abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.”

As the conflict in Ukraine continues to play out, so will the shifting domestic discussions about the proper role of U.S. military intervention in American foreign policy. Speakers lamented the “uniparty” Washington foreign policy consensus, but only time will tell if the non-interventionist wing of the party will ultimately be successful in changing that consensus. 

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