Testing time for Republicans

Reuters

Article Highlights

  • With Crimea, Putin reminds us that hard power, not soft power, is the ultima ratio in international relations

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  • Putin's invasion of Ukraine a turning point in post-war Europe

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  • To meet today's challenges, conservatives cannot simply channel the ghost of Reagan

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As Vladimir Putin reminds us that hard power, military power – not “soft” or “smart” power – is the ultima ratio in international affairs, who speaks for the Republican Party?

Is it Eric Cantor? “The eyes of the world are on the United States and our EU and NATO partners,” the House majority leader says.  “It is vitally important that the United States ... send an unmistakable signal that this aggression will not be tolerated.  We need to prioritize defense in our budget so that we maintain a military that can respond promptly to contingencies around the world and that instills fear in our enemies while reassuring our allies.”

Or is it John Boehner, the speaker of the House? “In terms of the spending for defense in this year, I believe that we’ll abide by the budget agreement that we’ve already made,” Boehner said. 

It is not hyperbolic to see Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a turning point, a defining moment.  After almost a century of effort, at the loss of hundreds of thousands of American lives and untold treasure, the United States was the principal parent, a generation ago, of a “Europe whole and free.”  That is a historically unprecedented and, given the centuries of bloodshed that came before it, a morally remarkable achievement.

Today’s conservatives cannot simply seek to channel the ghost of Ronald Reagan. They must look within themselves to find the wisdom and the courage to meet the challenges of a new era.  The eyes of the world are particularly on the House leadership – Boehner, Cantor, and perhaps especially Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan.  They claim to bear the standard of their party and to embody its principles.

Will they meet the test?

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