Pence warns against Trump, GOP ‘isolationism’

Former Vice President Mike Pence warned against growing favor in the Republican Party for American isolationism, criticizing former President Trump and other GOP presidential candidates in a speech Monday. 

Pence labeled Trump and other Republicans as advocating a “dangerous form of isolationism” that amounted to “appeasement.”

“Some Republican candidates, my former running mate included, are abandoning the traditional conservative positions on foreign policy and embracing a new and dangerous form of isolationism,” the former vice president said, presenting his foreign policy platform at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

Pence’s criticism against his opponents followed a speech he gave earlier this month urging Republicans to remain true to traditional conservative principles rather than follow Trump’s populism. 

But the former vice president’s speech also spoke to the specific issue facing the GOP, which is increasingly fractured over American support for Ukraine to push back against Russian aggression. 

While a minority of House Republicans are outspoken against any American support to Ukraine, both military and financial, they are part of a larger group that is threatening a government shutdown aimed at reining in federal spending and that cuts out assistance for Kyiv.

Trump, as the leading GOP presidential candidate, has expressed skepticism about continued American support for Ukraine and said he would negotiate directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but he has provided few details on what he would say to the Russian leader. 

Pence took aim at these Republicans as “appeasers” and said allowing them to pull support for Ukraine would allow Putin to overrun the country and drag NATO into war. 

“If I’m president of the United States, we will give the people of Ukraine the resources they need to defeat and repel the Russian invasion and reclaim their sovereignty,” Pence said in his speech.   

Yet Pence maintained his position that an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO should not come until the country’s borders are fully restored, something that outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, has warned is a “very high bar.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and eastern European NATO members have agitated for Ukraine to join the alliance as soon as possible as the only guarantee for its future security. 

“When I met with President Zelensky, I think that’s something they understand, that is something that ought to wait until the Russian invasion is expelled,” Pence told The Hill after his speech. 

“I think we need to keep giving Ukraine the weapons they need to expel the Russian invasion, and then after that, once peace is secured, I’d strongly support welcoming them.” 

The former vice president, in his speech, argued that holding back U.S. support for Ukraine would embolden China, which he labeled the greater challenge, and further arguing against voices promoting an isolationist America. 

You can either be tough on China, or you can be an isolationist — but you cannot be both,” he said in his speech. 

Tags China Donald Trump Foreign policy Mike Pence Russia-Ukraine war Ukraine aid