Hawley Votes Against NATO Expansion

Instead of a clenched fist of support, it was a big middle finger to Sweden and Finland.

Via WaPo: Senate backs Finland, Sweden for NATO 95-1, rebuking Russia

Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who often aligns his positions with those of the most ardent supporters of former President Donald Trump, cast the only no vote. Hawley took the Senate floor to call European security alliances a distraction from what he called the United States’ chief rival — China, not Russia.

“We can do more in Europe … devote more resources, more firepower … or do what we need to do to deter Asia and China. We cannot do both,” Hawley said, calling his a “classic nationalist approach” to foreign policy.

Given current circumstances the idea that denying Finland and Sweden entry into NATO is somehow not in the national security interests of the United State is absurd. If anything it decreases the chances of further Russian aggression along its borders and ramps up their costs for any escalation of the war in Ukraine into NATO territory. It empirically strengthens US interests. I know he wrote an essay defending his position, but I have no need to read it.

That their entry into NATO has some net gain for China is a non sequitur.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. CSK says:

    Tom Cotton took a shot at Hawley on the Sebate floor over this.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    As best I can tell, Hawley’s position on Ukraine is that we should oppose Russian aggression, but refrain from doing anything substantive about it. Because China and priorities at home or something. IIRC he also had some words about Sweden and Finland having weak militaries we’d have to prop up. Most commentary I see is pretty impressed with Swedish and Finnish military capability, and I believe they’re already pretty well standardized and harmonized with NATO.

    Meanwhile, at WAPO today, Jonathan Capehart has a column identifying Hawley’s obsession with “manhood” as really a grab bag of white male grievance.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: Oh gawd, talk about rooting for injuries.

  4. Kathy says:
  5. DAllenABQ says:

    When I saw that the vote was 95-1 I assumed it was Rand Paul. Even Rand Paul voted for this? On what planet does Sen. Hawley live?

  6. Grommit Gunn says:

    @DAllenABQ: Rand Paul took the highly principled stand (/sarcasm) of voting “Present.”

  7. Raoul says:

    Obviously he is not a Russian asset- so why?

  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Raoul: Looking for an opportunity to become a Russian asset? (That’s all I got, sorry.)

  9. Daniel Hill says:

    I can see how having two very militarily competent new allies in Europe detracts from our ability to deter Russia so we can better focus on China.

    Actually I can’t. Hawley is a performative idiot.

  10. Jay L Gischer says:

    My take is that Hawley saw a chance to drive headlines and coverage about him saying the word “nationalist” and “strong” in a way that doesn’t affect outcomes at all.

  11. Jen says:

    I’m guessing he wanted to do something, anything, memorable to detract from his Brave Sir Robin act at the Capitol that was played on video not too long ago.

    What an embarrassment to Missouri he is.

  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    Hawley is currying the support of the Russian troll farms for his prez aspirations.

  13. JohnSF says:

    There’s a strain of thinking on the US right, going back many years (I first encountered it online in the very late 1990’s) that asserts:
    – Europe is decadent , socialist and therefore unable/unwilling/incapable of any serious self-defence.
    – Therefore they are dependants of America, and their welfare states are in effect subsidised by America.
    – They are not even properly subordinate, having the effrontery to criticise Americans
    (IIRC the main issue at that point was over US Senate refusing to ratify the Kyoto Treaty, and Europeans insisting they would adhere to it anyway)
    – The US would do better to revert to isolationism/hemispherism/focus on Asia/ally with Russia, or various combinations thereof.

    In some ways it seems a descendant, often in quite clear political groups, from 1930’s “isolationist” attitudes, to “who lost China?”, via the MacArthur fanclub, and some variants Bircherism.
    Certainly there quite a few right wing Republicans advocation the termination of NATO; denouncing involvement in former Yugoslavia, etc.
    I came across a scad of them by accident via the late SF author Jerry Pournelle’s website.

    It seems to have been this strand of thought that Trump got lodged in his silly fat head.

    So now, this sort of line not only has a following in sections of conservative thinking on it’s own account, it’s also a very handy way of being performatively signalling more-ultra-MAGA-than-thou.
    See also in the House re. Ukraine and the displays of MAGA plumage by e.g. Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn etc.

    It’s also an example of missing that other states have agency, and that the way things are now is the way they will be, even if one undermines the structures and actions that shape geopolitics.

    The ultimate strategic nightmare for the US, for a whole number of reasons, would be the alignment of European countries en bloc with China, leveraged by a Chinese/Russian alliance.
    It’s a fair bet that this outcome is one of the thoughts at the back of minds in Beijing re. Russian “friendship”.

    The reason NATO emerged in the first place was out of the preceding Truman administration’s determination that an adversary could not be allowed to dominate multiple centres of strategic industrial/technological potential.

    Either by military power (and the US was committed to European defence well before NATO was set up, for that reason) or by political means (see the Marshall Plan, the relations with the nascent EU precursors, and the support for the opponents of the European Communists parties)

    Senator Hawley is not a serious enough thinker to be a senator; his essay (I read it, which is time I’ll never get back) is superficial, aimed I think at establishing his bona fides as the “thinking MAGA’s politician”

  14. @JohnSF: I think this is all on point.

    While I have zero doubt that the main goal here for Hawley is “look at me!!” it does connect to a real, long-standing thread of the American right.

  15. de stijl says:

    Hawley is a public man in dire need of a better tailor. A tiny suit does not make you look more jacked, it makes you look like PeeWee Herman.

  16. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Kathy: In the words of one comment I read, this was “the race that launched a thousand quips.”

  17. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Hawley voted and talked the way he did because:
    1) Give me attention!
    2) The Dems and especially Biden are for it, therefore I must be in opposition.

    Everything else is word salad garbage.

    He’s making a serious run for the title of my least favorite Republican Senator not including Mitch McConnell. He’s clearly ahead of Rand Paul at this point, but Ted Cruz is tough to beat for sheer assholery.