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Trump, Russia, NATO: Where does GOP’s isolationist turn leave Ukraine?

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President Ronald Reagan embodied the confident and cheerful America that would defeat the Soviet Union and welcome Eastern European countries into the family of democracies. He was the last president to succeed at immigration reform.

Today, Republicans in Congress hold up military assistance for a besieged Ukraine, and former President Donald Trump boasts at a weekend campaign rally that he would “encourage” Russia to attack any NATO allies that aren’t meeting the alliance’s financial targets.

Why We Wrote This

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Ukraine and Europe have been closely monitoring the internal Republican debate over funding for Ukraine’s war effort, long before former President Donald Trump’s weekend remarks on Russia and the NATO alliance. Is GOP isolationism here to stay?

What happened? Foreign policy analysts point to a shift in the Republican base from the business class to working class, as well as a sense that has grown for years that the United States was trying to do too much while ignoring problems at home.

Yet some say the right leader with a compelling vision could shift the party back to something closer to Mr. Reagan’s optimism.

America’s foreign policy establishment “had these grand visions of remaking other societies, but they were too ambitious,” says Paul Saunders, who served under President George W. Bush. “Trump was very effective at capitalizing on the public rejection of that leadership approach, but he didn’t really define a vision,” he adds. “The Republicans are left with all of these different influences and concerns that give us this swirling mix we have right now.”

Republicans in Congress hold up military assistance for a besieged Ukraine, while expressing admiration for the strongman leadership style of Vladimir Putin.

Former President Donald Trump, the Republican standard-bearer and the party’s increasingly likely presidential nominee, boasts at a weekend campaign rally that he would “encourage” Russia to attack any NATO allies that aren’t meeting the alliance’s financial targets.

And a growing number of Republican officials employ Mr. Trump’s isolationist and xenophobic rhetoric in the ongoing immigration debate.

Why We Wrote This

A story focused on

Ukraine and Europe have been closely monitoring the internal Republican debate over funding for Ukraine’s war effort, long before former President Donald Trump’s weekend remarks on Russia and the NATO alliance. Is GOP isolationism here to stay?

With the party’s traditional internationalist outlook nowhere in sight, one has to wonder: What happened to the foreign policy of Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party?

President Reagan embodied the confident and cheerful America that would defeat the Soviet Union and welcome Eastern European countries into the family of democracies. He was the last president to succeed at immigration reform, with legislation that legalized nearly 3 million unauthorized immigrants.

When he left office in 1989, Mr. Reagan signed off with his vision of America as the “shining city upon a hill” that would have no walls, only doors for admitting those seeking freedom and prosperity. By contrast, today’s Republicans are more likely to say they prefer walls, view migrants as a threat – and dismiss Ukraine’s freedom and security as having little relevance for America.



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