Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said on Monday he would vote against Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO, a move that would go against most of his colleagues on both sides from the driveway.
In an op-ed published by The National Interest, Hawley says the United States should not expand its security commitments in Europe because of a more pressing threat from China.
“Finland and Sweden want to join the Atlantic Alliance to avoid further Russian aggression in Europe. This is completely understandable given their location and security needs,” Hawley wrote.
“But America’s greatest foreign adversary is not hovering over Europe. It is looming in Asia. I am of course talking about the People’s Republic of China. And when it comes to Chinese imperialism, the American people should know the truth: the United States is not prepared to stand up to it. Expanding US security commitments in Europe now would only make this problem worse and America less secure.
Finland and Sweden announced in May their intention to join NATO after Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The governments of 19 NATO countries have since ratified the two Nordic countries’ membership of the alliance. Eleven, including the United States, have not yet done so. All 30 member states must approve the additions.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) wants senators to vote on expanding the alliance before lawmakers leave Washington, D.C., for a month-long break that begins on August 8.
Finland’s and Sweden’s demands received broad support from Democrats and Republicans alike. But Hawley – who was one of 11 conservatives who opposed the $40 billion Ukraine aid package passed by Congress in May – insists the US is not ready to back down. to oppose both Moscow and Beijing.
“As the 2018 and 2022 United States National Defense Strategies recognize, the United States cannot defeat China and Russia in two major wars at the same time. And we are not where we need to be in Asia,” Hawley wrote.
Citing distractions from “nation-building activities in the Middle East and legacy engagements in Europe,” Hawley says the United States is not prepared to repel Chinese military aggression in the Pacific should it occur.
“Faced with this harsh reality, we have to choose. We need to do less in Europe (and elsewhere) to prioritize China and Asia.
While Hawley says the US government shouldn’t abandon NATO, he suggests European allies could take more responsibility for Europe’s defense by investing more in their own armies.
Hawley’s position runs counter to that of the majority of his fellow Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said last week that the United States ” would be lucky to have two new treaty allies as impressive and capable as Finland and Sweden.”
Last month, 18 House Republicans voted against a symbolic resolution supporting Finland and Sweden joining NATO.