Trump and DeSantis' Call for Halting Ukraine Conflict in Line With GOP Base Sentiment
© AP Photo / Evan VucciPresident Donald Trump speaks with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as he arrives at Southwest Florida International Airport, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla.
© AP Photo / Evan Vucci
Former US President Donald Trump has released a video calling for a ceasefire in Ukraine, crackdown on neocon globalists, and prioritizing America's domestic issues within the framework of his 2024 campaign. Trump emphasized that he is the only one who can get the job done.
While Trump asserts that he is the best man for the job, the man poised to be his rival in the 2024 Republican primary election, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has also expressed doubts over Ukraine.
"Trump's stance will likely be well received by many of his supporters," Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa, told Sputnik. "Even so, there's a difference between just ignoring what is happening in Ukraine and getting it to stop. Trump said that the conflict needs to end, but the question is how to achieve that."
According to Hagle, opinions on the Ukraine conflict differ among GOP voters. Some of the Republicans see continued aid to Ukraine as necessary. They imagine that if Russia isn't stopped in Ukraine, then other countries will be Moscow's next targets, an assumption that the Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed as absurd.
Others do not see Ukraine as vital to American interests. Trump's concern about the US getting involved in another "endless war" resonates with many Republican voters, too.
"Another aspect to this is the concern that many Republicans and conservatives have about excessive spending," continued Hagle. "The US has been through a period when the national debt has increased dramatically. It seems this increased spending is related to the economic problems we are currently facing, such as increased inflation and higher prices. That means many Americans are reluctant to spend large amounts of money on a conflict that they do not see as directly affecting American interests."
A recent Ipsos Two Americas Index survey found that GOP support on aiding Ukraine is lower than what all American adults support. Only 42% of Republicans say that they support the US providing weapons and financial support to the Kiev regime, while a staggering 79% of Democrats support this kind of assistance.
"There is no question that a large number of Trump supporters and potential Trump supporters are deeply skeptical of the US/Western involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict," Dr. Nicholas Waddy, political analyst and Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred, told Sputnik. "The enthusiasm that the Biden administration, the Democratic Party establishment, and the progressive left have for the Ukraine [conflict] naturally makes many conservatives doubtful about the 'mission' there, to the extent that any mission besides hobbling Russia and pouring more money down the drain can be identified."
17 February, 18:22 GMT
Americans Losing Appetite for Aiding Ukraine
"Frankly, polls indicate a softening of American support for Ukraine, yes, but very few Americans oppose US aid to Ukraine or favor a significant change of direction in our policy," Waddy said. "Trump, therefore, may be right that US involvement in the conflict brings us dangerously close to World War III and nuclear devastation, but so far the American people don't seem to feel a sense of urgency about disentangling us from the conflict."
However, it seems that the number of Americans opposing the US proxy war in Ukraine is by no means insignificant. Last month, NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that the number of those who are strongly against sending weapons to Kiev had grown from 19% to 29% since May 2022. At the same time, only 48% of respondents said that they either "strongly" or "somewhat" support arming Kiev, sliding from 60% in May 2022.
In late January 2023, Pew Research found that 40% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said the US is providing "too much support to Ukraine", up from 32% in the fall and much higher than the 9% who held this view in March 2022. By comparison, only 15% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents shared this stance in January, up from 5% last March.
Soaring inflation, looming recession, growing prices and simmering border crisis have apparently contributed to the change of stance among the other factors.
"The United States economy is in rough shape due to higher prices, inflation, and other problems," said Timothy Hagle. "Increased spending that has dramatically increased the national debt, and likely contributed to the economic problems, makes it harder for political leaders to convince voters that spending even more on a conflict that does not seem to affect them directly is a good thing."
Split Within GOP
"The position of Trump and DeSantis marks a break with the Cold War Republican doctrine, reinvigorated by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, of projecting military strength," Dr. Harvey Schantz, professor of political science at State University of New York at Plattsburgh, told Sputnik. "In fact, the Trump and DeSantis position harkens back to much earlier Republican Party sentiments, which called for prudent spending and isolation from European conflicts."
Previously, DeSantis, who is rumored to be preparing a 2024 Presidential campaign, told an American broadcaster earlier this week that "becoming further entangled" was not in America’s "vital interests". “The Biden administration’s virtual ‘blank check’ funding of this conflict for ‘as long as it takes’, without any defined objectives or accountability, distracts from our country’s most pressing challenges,” the Florida governor emphasized.
Last month, Republican Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fl) introduced the Ukraine Fatigue Resolution, calling for the end of funding and arming of Kiev and to persuade warring parties to reach a peace agreement. The resolution was co-sponsored by ten House Republicans.
There is a split within the GOP: "two other Republican presidential contenders, former Ambassador and Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina and former Vice-President Mike Pence, however, have seen Ukrainian victory as vital to the US national interest, indicating that this issue has the potential to arise in the Republican presidential contest," the political scientist continued.
"On the Ukrainian issue, Trump and DeSantis are for now in line with emerging sentiment within the Republican base, those who vote in presidential primaries," Schantz said.
Indeed, a survey released in February by OnMessage Inc. and commissioned by the American Principles Project indicated that 50% of Republican primary voters are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports providing military assistance to Ukraine. At the same time, the majority of GOP voters said they want a Republican presidential candidate who focuses on domestic issues.