Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine has united – somewhat – Republicans and Democrats like few things can these days.
But in their bipartisan calls for economic sanctions, no-fly zones, and even hit squads to take out Putin, Rep. Matt Gaetz believes the Russian invasion has given the power elites in Washington another excuse to abandon their responsibility to protect America and further her interests.
In an opinion piece in The National Interest on Wednesday, the Florida Republican explained why he rejected the idea of refusing Russian oil imports.
“As I travel today to America’s southern border, my fellow lawmakers in both parties are obsessed over 150,000 Russians moving on Ukraine. It’s about the same number of illegal aliens that move into our country. Monthly,” Gaetz wrote. “I’m more concerned with America’s borders than Ukraine’s. It’s increasingly a lonely place to be, but I make no apology for loving my neighbors more than Russia’s.”
Continuing, Gaetz wrote that he was rejecting the “D.C. uni-party” vote for oil sanctions because President Joe Biden’s plan to punish Putin not only hurts everyday Americans, it is “needlessly foolish.”
Replacing “Russian oil with Venezuelan or Iranian oil is needlessly foolish. It will make Americans poorer and less safe. My compassion for Ukrainians won’t force my hand to hurt my own people,” Gaetz wrote. “Biden hates American energy so much he would open energy production in Venezuela and Iran before Colorado and North Dakota. America Last, for sure.”
“And while Russian oil is indeed stained with blood, so is Iran’s, and so is Venezuela’s.”
“Hard-working Americans shouldn’t have to pay higher gas prices to support [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro or [Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khameini over Putin,” Gaetz added, “especially since Putin and his military get the money either way.”
While Putin may lead a “gangster government,” Gaetz argued, “There are few good guys in Eastern Europe.”
He noted Ukraine is the “third most corrupt country in the world,” and the most corrupt in Europe. “Everyone is working an angle and none of them are thinking of America First. Nor, apparently, are our policy leaders,” said Gaetz.
“Banning Russian energy imports asks poor and middle-class Americans to shoulder the burdens of Washington’s foreign policy blunders. It’s unfair. We can help Ukraine without hurting ourselves,” the congressman maintained.
He argued that the U.S could “hunt down” assets held by Putin and the Russian oligarchs and sell them off. The government also could do more to disrupt Russian espionage in America. And America could invest in development of rare-earth metals in order to undermine Russia’s fossil fuel industry.
“It amazes me that we are more interested in kicking Russia out of Ukraine than, say, South America and the Caribbean, where their influence grows,” he noted.
Ultimately, Gaetz wrote, we’re seeing the old ways of old politicians, who refuse to think differently. That includes the demand for sanctions.
Sanctions “mostly enrich the elites in bad countries and harm the vulnerable. If sanctions worked as intended, Cuba would be a Caribbean Garden of Eden, not a hellhole,” Gaetz wrote.
“But what do we expect? Ancient politicians don’t have to think of the long-term consequences of their actions. Putin is 69. Biden is 79. [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi is 81. [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell is 80. We are seeing the dangers of a world ruled by a gerontocracy,” he concluded.
“The Soviet Union collapsed because its very old leaders were unable to think beyond the present. Let’s hope the same thing doesn’t happen to America.”
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