South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is lucky that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis drowned out her unpatriotic Russia-coddling with his own chickenly dismissal of America’s moral and geopolitical imperative to help Ukraine stand against Russian aggression. Otherwise, Vice-President Kamala Harris might be roasting Noem as an inexperienced state official who ought to study foreign policy before opening her big yap and selling out vital allies and principles for points on Fox News:
“If you really understand the issues, you probably would not make statements like that,” Harris said Wednesday night on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
…The vice president chalked the comments up to what she said was DeSantis’ lack of experience on the world stage, contrasting her own experience meeting with world leaders with that of a regional lawmaker.
When you have that experience, you understand the need to stand “firm and clear about the significance of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the significance of standing firm against any nation that would try to take by force another nation,” Harris said [Matt Berg, “Harris Blasts DeSantis over Ukraine Remarks, Lack of Experience,” Politico, 2023.03.16].
Harris’s predecessor in the big Senate chair, Mike Pence, thinks Noem’s suggested turn away from Ukraine would bring disaster for freedom worldwide:
The war in Ukraine is not a territorial dispute. It’s a Russian invasion. It’s just the latest instance of Russia attempting to redraw international lines by force, and the United States of America must continue at a quickened pace to provide the Ukrainian military the support that they need to repel the Russian invasion, and the stakes are that high. This is, this is a test of American leadership, And a test, frankly, of the free world. As the leader of the free world, as the arsenal of Democracy, America needs to continue to ensure that the Ukrainian military has what they need. Anybody that thinks that Vladimir Putin will stop if he overruns Ukraine has another thing coming, Jon. And there’s no doubt in my mind, that the Baltics could be next. That what Putin is about, is reasserting that old Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. And the difference would be once he crosses into a NATO country we’ll have no choice but to send American service members into harm’s way. Now we can do as Ronald Reagan said we can, we can provide freedom fighters in their own countries, the resources to repel aggression there so that we don’t have to fight ’em here with our own soldiers. And that’s what we need to continue to do in Ukraine. I’ll continue to be a voice for that [Mike Pence, interviewed by Jonathan Karl, ABC: This Week, 2023.03.19].
Absent DeSantis’s heat shield, Noem would have been taking fire from Senator Lindsey Graham for completely misreading how sticking up for Ukraine is also sticking up for Taiwan:
He added that DeSantis “has got much to be proud of as governor,” but said, “I think any Republican that goes down the Biden road of trying to, you know, go weak in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is inviting more aggression.”
Graham said of Trump, who he’s already endorsed for 2024, “If he got to be president again — I really do believe Putin wouldn’t have invaded on his watch — but I’ve told President Trump that if you don’t see a nexus between China going after Taiwan, and Russia going into Ukraine, you’re not watching very closely” [Elizabeth Elkind, “Graham Accuses DeSantis of ‘Taking the Chinese Position’ on Ukraine in Calling War a ‘Territorial Dispute’,” Fox News, 2023.03.19].
While Noem frets about Russia maybe lobbing nuclear missiles at Pierre if we get too uppity with Putin, countries directly in the crosshairs of Russia’s ultimate European strategy aren’t rolling over; Poland and Slovakia are sending fighter jets to help Ukraine:
Slovakia approved a plan to send a fleet of 13 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, a day after Poland became the first NATO country to say it would send warplanes to Ukraine.
“Promises must be kept & when @ZelenskyyUa asked for more #weapons incl. fighter jets, I said we’ll do our best,” Prime Minister Eduard Heger tweeted, adding that he was glad other nations were doing the same.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda announced Thursday that the country plans to give Ukraine about a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets. That announcement marked the first time an ally of Ukraine said it would provide warplanes in the fight against Russia. Poland and Slovakia’s back-to-back decisions will likely apply pressure on other Western nations to provide military aircraft amid pleas from Ukraine ahead of a likely counter-offensive this Spring [Sanya Mansoor, “Ukraine Is Getting MiG-29 Fighter Jets from Poland and Slovakia. Here’s Why That Matters,” Time, 2023.03.17].
This isn’t Poland or Slovakia’s first rodeo with Russia. They lived under Russian occupation for half of the 20th century, and they aren’t waiting for the bear to come knocking on their doors again. They are sending real firepower to help Ukraine knock the bear back to its lair.
Poland, Slovakia, Graham, Pence, and Harris get Russia and the threat to Western civilization posed by its invasion of Ukraine. DeSantis and Noem do not.