A man walks among the rubble of destroyed houses in Bohdanivka, northeast of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday. President Joe Biden speaks at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Thursday. (Fadel Senna – AFP / Getty Images; Mandel Ngan – AFP / Getty Images)
By Gen. Keith Kellogg and Fred Fleitz April 14, 2022 at 4:27pm
As former Trump administration national security officials who deeply believe in an America First approach to U.S. national security policy, we have been on television almost every day discussing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
We have stated with urgency that the U.S. must support Ukraine with all the weaponry it needs to defend itself against Russia’s completely unjustifiable invasion. We have saluted the bold and heroic leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. We also have repeatedly denounced Moscow’s criticism of Zelenskyy, as well as Putin’s nonsensical claim that Russia invaded to fight Nazis.
Some have recently misrepresented the America First movement concerning the war in Ukraine and Putin. For example, in a Sunday Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro alleged that the movement has taken a “dangerous turn,” claiming “leading America-firsters are parroting the Kremlin’s narrative” on the war in Ukraine and mistaking Putin for a strong nationalist leader like President Donald J. Trump.
This is pure nonsense.
While there may be others in Washington who casually call themselves “America First,” we and our colleagues at the America First Policy Institute served alongside Trump in senior positions at the White House and in departments and agencies throughout the executive branch. We are the leaders of the America First movement. We have been abundantly clear in condemning Putin’s destructive invasion of Ukraine and the vile atrocities his military is committing there.
As believers in and practitioners of an America First approach to U.S. foreign policy, we want to see an America that is strong, independent and secure. We are realists who staunchly reject the mistaken belief that America can bury its head in the sand rather than deal with the outside world.
America First requires an independent and secure America, with a strong military and strong alliances. We must ensure America’s supply chains and economy are stable and strong and its people are safe. Through internal strength, we are best poised to lead and engage in the world and accomplish more for the American people and the peace, prosperity and freedom of others.
America First is not isolationism. Rather, it is purposeful engagement with other nations to serve American interests first.
We believe in bold decisions to support American interests and enhance the capability, credibility and purpose of American allies. But we also support the prudent use of American military power –and oppose sending American troops into endless wars without clear objectives that benefit the American people.
Should the U.S. send more weapons to Ukraine?
For these reasons, we firmly stand with the people of Ukraine in their efforts to defend their country against the Russian invasion, and we strongly advocate for sending additional arms and weaponry to Ukraine. But we oppose a no-fly zone and other ways to engage American military forces in the Ukraine conflict because we do not believe the U.S. should risk war with Russia. Such a conflict could escalate into a wider war in Europe or a nuclear conflict.
With that said, we want to see Ukraine armed to the teeth and we are very concerned that the Biden administration appears to be dragging its feet on providing promised arms and has turned down other requests for weapons from Ukrainian officials.
America First foreign policy and strong U.S. leadership make the world safer. Contrary to many liberals and conservative hawks, Trump’s leadership did not make the world less safe; it did exactly what it was designed to do — Make America Strong Again and the world a safer place because of it. The only time this century Russia didn’t invade a neighbor was during the four years when Donald Trump served as commander in chief.
America First does not mean America alone. As the only true guardians of America First foreign policy, we unquestionably oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine and we want the U.S. to send the Ukrainian military the weapons it needs to defend its country and defeat Russia.
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