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Reviews | Josh Hawley’s lonely and manly stance against Finland and Sweden

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Take a can of beer, add some light rum, and stir the frozen lemonade concentrate into the mix. So ! You have concocted a cocktail known as Missouri Jackass. Surprisingly, the drink is not named after the young U.S. state senator.

Josh Hawley (R-closest full-length mirror), last seen dashing with fear of the January 6 crowd he helped incite – he was the guy who raised his fist as high as his ridiculously skintight suit allowed — is back in the news for his lone stance against Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Seeking a post that would set him apart from his rivals among the Senate’s young conservatives, Hawley arrived at the arrogant notion that adding two robust military powers with vibrant economies would somehow increase NATO’s burden on American resources.

By “lonely,” I mean Hawley was the only senator to vote no. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) looked set for a stiff drink as he considered this epic display of grandiose idiocy. “If a senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote no, I wish him luck,” said McConnell — fully aware that the Missouri senator, uh, had already announced his opposition. “It’s a national security slam dunk that deserves unanimous bipartisan support.”

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A slam dunk indeed. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) shares Hawley’s boundless ambition, though in Cotton’s case there is some justification for it – notably a military experience which allows him to understand certain basics. He said“Besides their military strength and economic might, Finland and Sweden also allow us to turn the Baltic into a NATO lake, bottle up Russia’s Baltic Fleet, cut off its isolated Kaliningrad military base and to expose Russia itself to much greater risks in the event of conflict”.

In his defense, Hawley has recently been busy with other matters. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Virilitywhich promises to be a restless meditation on a topic that, in my experience, is rarely discussed by people safe in their own. Perhaps his research was so lonely and overwhelming that there was no time to consult a map or a history book.

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If he had, he might have learned that Cotton was right: given their location, Finland and Sweden add much more to NATO than their robust economies and well-trained, well-equipped armies. In strategic terms, the passage of these nations from neutral status to NATO membership is a massive failure for Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the effort needed to impose a harsh sanction for Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, it’s a huge success, at negligible cost.

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Attempting to rationalize his vote, Hawley argued that NATO expansion could only mean a weakening of American resistance to Chinese hegemony in the Eastern Pacific. But this confused thought cannot survive the first contact with logic. Competition with China is not (yet) an essentially military competition. While China is certainly increasing its military capacity, it remains a lower power compared to US. Nor is competition primarily about economic power. The US economy continues to be the largest and most diverse in the world.

Today, the most important aspect of American competition with China is in the area of ​​expectations. Nations around the world are looking to the future and making their bets. Perceptions of strength and perceptions of weakness both tend to be self-fulfilling, and if other countries perceive that China is advancing while the United States is in decline, the actions they take will strengthen China and further weaken the United States. Nations will invest in China, align with China, borrow from China, and curry favor with China.

It is unfortunate that the world has to choose. For a generation, the United States has made extraordinary efforts to encourage the development of China in the hope that it would join the peaceful and prosperous world order that stretches from Europe to the Americas and the Pacific powers of Japan, Australia, South Korea, etc. Unfortunately, under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party has tightened its grip, stifled freedomthreatened his neighbors and disrupted its own economy. Xi has turned to muscle flexing to distract his people from his own parade of mistakes and outrages.

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Each new ally the United States embraces is another vote for the Western path of peaceful progress. Bringing Sweden and Finland, two of the world’s leading economies and strong democracies, out of neutrality and into the US-led team is no distraction from competition with China. It’s a big win.

These are serious questions with real implications for human freedom. The Senate is to be commended for its overwhelming and bipartisan action. As for Hawley, maybe a little beer, rum, and lemonade would make him more tolerable.