“America First” does not encompass just one issue, but its key component is foreign policy.
Certainly, neoconservative pundits put foreign policy first when attacking the phrase. Former President Donald Trump’s “America First” criticism of “endless wars,” George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, and America’s longest war in Afghanistan certainly angered Republican hawks and continues to.
But what does “America First” look like in 2022? Right now, the Washington foreign policy establishment is pushing U.S. military intervention against Russia amid its looming invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
Last week, Republican leaders made clear that if the U.S. needs to get involved militarily with Russia to protect Ukraine’s border it would happen, whether Republican voters or anti-war voices like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson liked it or not.
Yet Trump has said politicians who want war right now are putting “America last.”
President Trump Calling Out Biden & Washington For Focusing On Ukraine's Border Instead Of America's Border
"It's always America Last."
"Before Joe Biden sends any troops to defend a border in Eastern Europe he should be sending troops to defend our border right here in Texas." pic.twitter.com/sqUeQo09fI
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) January 30, 2022
“Before Joe Biden sends any troops to defend a border in Eastern Europe he should be sending troops to defend our border right here in Texas,” Trump recently told a rally audience.
Mace also opposes a U.S. war with Russia over Ukraine—for the same reason as Trump.
“The U.S. military should not yet be inserted into Ukraine to defend Ukraine’s border with Russia when we have our own border to worry about,” Mace wrote in an op-ed last week for South Carolina’s Post & Courier.
“But instead of focusing on the issue of national security on our southern border, the Biden administration has decided to put 8,500 troops on heightened alert for a possible deployment to Eastern Europe,” Mace added.
Mace questioned whether it was in the U.S.’s interest to go to war yet again.
“Regardless of whether we think Ukraine should become a NATO member, is it really worth one drop of American blood?” the congresswoman asked.
“The Constitution states that Congress alone has the authority to decide if we go to war,” she noted. “Unfortunately, from Syria to Somalia to Niger, Republicans and Democrats alike have played a role in eroding Congress’ authority.”
Some might find Mace’s “America First” position on Ukraine unremarkable. They would be wrong. There are a number of supposed Republican Trump allies in Washington right now who are taking pro-war stances on Ukraine.
The top of that list? Sen. Tom Cotton. Trump favorite, GOP Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, is also ready to put Ukraine first. Republican Congressman Dan. Crenshaw has mostly embraced Trump, but has always put his own hawkishness first, including on Ukraine.
Thanks to Trump’s influence on the party, there are many more Republicans questioning the wisdom of a U.S. conflict over Ukraine. Mace joins a number of libertarian-leaning Republicans and others in fighting to take the GOP in a more restrained and diplomatic direction when it comes to foreign affairs.
Ending endless wars—and not starting new ones—is the real “America First” battleline in Washington and in our larger politics. An actual “America First” agenda has to have substance. Mere slogans won’t do. Saying you’re “America First” can be different than actually pursuing it.
So far, Nancy Mace appears to be pursuing it.
Editor’s note: Portions of this article discussing the 2022 election were removed after publication to refocus it on Congresswoman Mace’s foreign policy.”