'Deserves unanimous bipartisan support': GOP senators bash Hawley’s opposition to adding Finland, Sweden to NATO
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is facing criticism from many of his Republican colleagues over his opposition to adding Finland and Sweden to the North American Treaty Organization (NATO), according to Business Insider.
In his new op-ed, the Missouri lawmaker shared sentiments similar to former President Donald Trump's "America First" foreign policy. According to Hawley, adding the two countries could be burdensome for the United States. He also suggested that the United States should be focused on China.
"We must do less in Europe (and elsewhere) in order to prioritize China and Asia," Hawley wrote. "Russia is still a threat, but the Chinese Communist Party is a far greater one."
However, a number of Republican lawmakers have stated they are not in agreement with Hawley's stance. Speaking to Politico, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) suggested that he believes Hawley's assessment is inaccurate. "We don't beat China by retreating from the rest of the world," Cruz said. "We beat China by standing with our allies against our enemies."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also penned an op-ed where he weighed in on the debate surrounding NATO. His arguments echo Cruz's words.
"A strong and unified NATO is a powerful asset in the contest with Beijing," Rubio wrote. "When Finland and Sweden join the alliance's ranks and the free peoples of Europe become stronger than ever, more US resources will be available to focus on countering Communist China. If we do not rise to the challenge, it will be too late, and Americans will be held hostage by a totalitarian regime half a world away."
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday also appeared to criticize Hawley's arguments. "It would be strange indeed for any senator who voted to allow Montenegro or North Macedonia into NATO to turn around and deny membership to Finland and Sweden," Cotton said. "I would love to hear the defense of such a curious vote."
Cruz, Rubio and Cotton's remarks come months after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also signaled his support for the additions. Back in May, the top-ranking Republican lawmaker said he considered Finland and Sweden to be "important additions to NATO."
"I think the United States ought to be first in line to ratify the treaty for both these countries to join," he said.
On Wednesday, August 3, McConnell also iterated his support of Finland and Sweden being added to NATO. "If any senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote no, I wish them good luck," the Kentucky Republican said. "This is a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support."
During his presidential term, Trump openly verbalized his opposing views on NATO, citing concerns about defense spending. In a recent op-ed Hawley also emphasized similar concerns. "It's time for our European allies to do more," Hawley wrote. "In particular, they must take primary responsibility for the conventional defense of Europe by investing more in their own militaries."
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