“Now those experts have a new crusade, a new thing that American taxpayers must fund and must fund indefinitely. And it is called the conflict in Ukraine.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In hour-long remarks on the Senate floor, Senator JD Vance (R-OH) blasted efforts by Democrats and establishment Republicans to push further spending for the war in Ukraine. In his remarks, Senator Vance called out the foreign policy establishment for its record of failure, and examined other geopolitical challenges facing Europe and the United States.
Watch Senator Vance’s full speech here and read excerpts below.
Senator Vance on the failed foreign policy wisdom of so-called experts:
“So many times in the last many decades have we been asked to listen to the experts. And yet we never actually ask what the track record of those experts is in matters of foreign policy. The experts, the bipartisan consensus, of course, got us into Vietnam, a war that lasted nearly 15 years, that saw the destruction of nearly 60,000 American lives. And for what?
“It was the bipartisan foreign policy consensus, the experts, that got us into a 20 year war in Afghanistan, where American taxpayers, for two decades, funded things like how to turn Afghanistan into a flowering democracy, or how to ensure that the Afghans had proper American thoughts about gender in the 21st century. Well, maybe that was a waste of money, and maybe the experts were wrong.
“Those same experts, of course, counseled us that we must invade Iraq because Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, and yet, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. And the war led not only to the destruction of 5,000 American lives and many, many hundreds of thousands of innocent people beyond that, but also led to the regional empowerment of Iran, which now we are told by those same experts, is the biggest problem that we face in the Middle East.
“Now, those experts have a new crusade. Now those experts have a new thing that American taxpayers must fund and must fund indefinitely. And it is called the conflict in Ukraine.”
Senator Vance on failed border policy negotiations:
“What you might expect happened in a good faith negotiation that was actually about the border, if we were actually trying to secure the border, you might have said this is not the Democrats’ best offer, let’s go back to the negotiating table, let’s continue to push for border security, because that is the most pressing crisis that we face as a country.
“And what happened instead is after an hour, Senate Democrats and even some in Republican leadership decided that we should move on from border security. They had checked the box, now let’s move on to their real priority, which is sending another $61 billion to Ukraine. It stinks to high heaven, ladies and gentlemen. No one who watched this process unfold believes that Republican leadership negotiated in good faith for border security or that Democrats did the same.
“It was always kabuki theater. It was always an excuse to say ‘we tried on the border, now let’s move on to the thing that really matters, which is the money for Ukraine.’ And that failure, the way that it blew up in the faces of our leadership and the appearance gave lie to the idea that this was ever really about border security.
“And by the way, it alienated millions of Republican and independent voters who want their government to focus on the most pressing problem for this country, and that is the border. When I go back home to Ohio and I talk to audiences about their views on Ukraine, most people agree with me, but some people disagree with me. But if you go to an audience in the state of Ohio, a state that is affected tragically by the fentanyl problem, where you will drive on highways and see billboards for sex trafficking victims to call the hotline because they’re being sex trafficked in the state of Ohio by Mexican drug cartels who have been given free rein on the southern border.
“If you talk to people and ask them what are the most pressing problems the country faces, none of them will say Ukraine. Even those who would like to send more money to Ukraine, none of them will say Ukraine. So what are we doing? Why did we give up so easily? Why did Republicans stab their voters in the back?
“Why did we not fight for border security? Ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly what we promised we would do. Many of us did, by the way, even some of my colleagues who disagree with me on the Ukraine question, they at least had the courage to stand and fight for border security. But unfortunately, far too many Republicans refused.”
Senator Vance on NATO failing to carry its fair share of the European defense burden:
“Even if we assumed, and it’s wrong, but even if we assumed that NATO was carrying its fair share of the burden over the last 18 months, NATO has failed to carry its fair share of the burden for literally decades, ladies and gentlemen. Look just at how much money the United States has spent on defense since 1992, and compare that to our NATO allies.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have been subsidizing European security to the tune of trillions of dollars. And it might feel nice when we go to Munich and the Europeans thank us, and it might be great to get a pat on the back from a European head of state, but the American people demand that NATO carry its fair share of the burden.
“Germany is the largest economy in Europe. They have promised for decades, and especially over the last years that they would meet the NATO threshold of 2% of GDP spent on defense. They are still not there. Italy, a massive economy still underspends on defense. In fact, most of the economies of Europe outside of the UK and France and some economies in Eastern Europe,
“Most of the economies of Europe massively underspend on defense, and that has invited aggression not just from Vladimir Putin, but from other places as well.”
Senator Vance on the crisis of America and Europe:
“At the same time that world leaders play armchair general with the Ukraine conflict, their own societies are decaying. Not a single country, not a single country, even the United States, within the NATO alliance has birthrates at replacement level. We don’t have enough families and children to continue as a nation, and yet we’re talking about problems 6,000 miles away.
“We are being invaded by up to 10 million illegal migrants over the course of Joe Biden’s term in office. And we have apparently no president with willpower to stop that problem. We have a fentanyl crisis that has led to the deaths of over 100,000 people per year in the last few years of our youngest and brightest people.
“Mental health crises are skyrocketing. Youth suicides are skyrocketing. And every single place, not just the United States, but every single one of the countries in the NATO alliance see similar or in some cases even more troubling dynamics on most of those metrics from migration to economic malaise. What are we doing, ladies and gentlemen? China and Russia, if we want them to fear us, we need to rebuild our own countries.
“We need to rebuild a strong Europe and a strong America. We need to rebuild a civilization that can support conflicts instead of just run away from them, because right now we don’t have that. We do not have a country and we do not have a NATO alliance that is strong enough to do the things that need to be done.
“So our message to the Europeans needs to be simple: fix your own country, share your own burden, spend more on defense, fix your own problems, and that will deal with the problem in Russia far more than a $61 billion check to Ukraine will. In fact, we are subsidizing them. We are enabling their refusal to spend enough resources on defense.”