‘Ukraine First’ Speaker Johnson Forgets American Freedom, and Uselessly Risks a World War

By John Zmirak Published on April 22, 2024

The spectacle of U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson tossing aside all his previous promises about U.S. aid to Ukraine and the need to defend our own border, followed by the mainstream media praising Johnson while Democrats waved little Ukrainian flags at our Capitol … it almost beggars comment. For once I am left speechless. Instead, I’ll defer to Steve Deace’s powerful column:

And Charlie Kirk’s observation:

Who’s More Dangerous to Us, Putin or Biden?

I’d like to invite you to join in a thought experiment. It begins with a real conversation I had with a loudly Christian neoconservative I met at a D.C. event refuting the myth of “Christian Nationalism” as a real and present danger. I was one of the speakers, along with scholar Mark David Hall and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. During the mocktail hour (this was at the Museum of the Bible, so the strongest beverage on offer was iced tea) I ended up chatting with a foreign policy junkie who agreed with Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden that the U.S. must flood Ukraine with high-tech weapons. He said that if we didn’t, we’d end up having to “fight the Russians ourselves.”

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This fellow thought saving Ukraine was every bit as important as reining in the FBI or enforcing our immigration laws. More important, in fact since — like Mike Johnson and the Republicans who voted with him — he was unwilling to condition aid to Ukraine on reforms of the Deep State or our own broken border. Give the Democrats everything they want, then hope they’ll be nice to us.

I countered that treating Ukraine — which was part of Russia for longer than Texas has been part of the United States — as a de facto member of NATO, which we would fight to protect, was insanely provocative and risked nuclear war. That in fact, Vladimir Putin had said so much explicitly. And I posed this question:

How is treating Ukraine as part of NATO and arming it to the teeth any less provocative than the Soviets putting nuclear missiles in Cuba? You do know that John F. Kennedy was willing to risk a nuclear war with the Soviets to stop that threat to American sovereignty? That we came to the very brink of incinerating hundreds of millions of people over that issue? Why think that ex-KGB agent Putin would be less militaristic than playboy JFK?

Not many people remember that Fidel Castro urged the Soviets to launch such a nuclear war. He said that it would be worth it to see Cuba, and much of Russia, obliterated and rendered uninhabitable for thousands of years, in order to “wipe out capitalism.” That’s the same kind of crazy brinksmanship that Ukraine’s leaders are practicing today. Thanks be to God, Nikita Khrushchev was more responsible than Joe Biden or Mike Johnson are proving themselves today. He reined in his mad attack dog short of provoking Armageddon.

Would a Russian-Occupied Europe Threaten Us More than Our FBI Does Right Now?

My new neocon friend didn’t know about any of that. But it didn’t seem to sway him. He wouldn’t admit that Russia has a legitimate concern about its equivalent of Texas seceding and then joining a hostile military alliance that’s armed with nukes. Instead, he started asserting that if Russia gets to keep part of Ukraine, it would pose a threat to Poland, Lithuania, and other NATO members. So we need to risk fighting the Russians in order to avoid fighting the Russians.

At this point, things got confusing. So I decided to clear the decks, and here’s where our thought experiment begins. I said:

Okay, let me just be clear. Rather than take a serious risk of a single nuclear weapon falling on one American city, I would rather see Russian troops occupy all of Europe, from the Orkneys down to Malta, from Kiev to Gibraltar. It would be sad for the people in Europe, but it’s not worth sacrificing millions of American civilians to defend countries that won’t defend themselves.

At that, my neocon friend briefly fell silent. He’d literally never allowed his mind to go there before. But I think we should. Since we’re being asked to spend tens of billions of dollars in an open-ended war to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty over millions of Russian speakers, and in the process risk nuclear war, we owe it to ourselves to do that — and to the hapless civilians in whatever American cities would get obliterated.

Rather than take a serious risk of a single nuclear weapon falling on one American city, I would rather see Russian troops occupy all of Europe, from the Orkneys down to Malta, from Kiev to Gibraltar.

Republicans are willing to let the FBI infiltrate our churches and surveil Americans without warrants, without using our leverage over FBI funding. They’re willing to let millions of illegal immigrants pour through our borders, squat in our homes, and be instructed on how to vote illegally in our elections. But on this point, they draw the line firmly in the sand: Crimea must go back to Ukraine. Some principles are sacred after all. As entrepreneur David Sacks puts it:

Is it Really October 1938 in Munich, or August 1914 in Sarajevo?

So let yourself think this through. Are we really in October 1938, where the great risk is appeasing Hitler? That’s the constant refrain of Republicans in the pay of military contractors, like overnight Boeing multimillionaire Nikki Haley. What if in fact we’re closer to August 1914, when corrupt and jingoistic politicians dumped Europe into a slaughter that devastated civilization, and made possible the rise of both Stalin and Hitler? Maybe think that part through.

I agree that it would be sad to see Russian troops pour into Britain, France and Portugal. It might make travel there less fun. It would weaken the U.S. internationally. We wouldn’t have so much leverage to promote LGBT priorities in Hungary, for instance. But how much effect would it have on our lives here in America?

Would anything Putin does in Paris or Madrid be anywhere near as dangerous as the FBI honeycombing our churches with agents, sniffing out “extremism”? Or bugging our phones and reading our emails without any legal oversight? Or the feds flying unvetted migrants smuggled in by criminal gangs all across the country?

We are already occupied by an authoritarian, lawless, intolerant regime, but the Republicans are busy fighting for “freedom” half a world away. 


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or coauthor of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. His upcoming book is No Second Amendment, No First.

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