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"We can’t afford to be isolationists. That would mean letting other nations direct our trade, dictate our interests, and imperil the livelihoods of our people. But nor can we afford further adventures in globalism. Wilsonian foreign policy, left and right, has nearly bankrupted the country, while siphoning away our national sovereignty and decimating our industrial base."

Not so long ago, Republicans said they had sworn off nation-building. Following the failure of the neoconservative project in Iraq and Afghanistan, GOP leaders seemed to have learned their lesson. But apparently not. Now nation-building is back with force, with a massive aid package to Ukraine that makes that country a US client state. Up next: a debate over expanding NATO. Many Republicans in Congress have already lined up to support both, almost reflexively. Why? Perhaps because they have forgotten their foreign-policy heritage. They have traded the nationalism of Theodore Roosevelt for the globalism of Woodrow Wilson. That’s a mistake. What America needs is not nation-building, but nationalism.

Start with the $40 billion Ukraine package. The cost alone is startling. It is three times what all of Europe has contributed to date and roughly the size of Ukraine’s entire national budget. Speaking of which, the bill includes funds for Ukraine’s treasury to the tune of $8.8 billion. And Biden administration officials suggest they will soon ask for more. This goes far beyond targeted military assistance. This package treats Ukraine as a client state of America, a fraught relationship that will put us on the hook for financing the war and then the reconstruction.

“This package treats Ukraine as a client state of America.”

If this isn’t a classic case of misplaced priorities, I don’t know what is. The administration won’t give our own troops a raise that keeps pace with inflation. It won’t secure our southern border. It is dragging its feet on the force-posture changes needed in Asia to counter a rising China. But $40 billion is enough to give every American service member a real raise. It’s enough to build a wall at the border—twice over. And it would address all of our posture needs vis-à-vis Beijing, and then some.

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