WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Sen. Josh Hawley, the only senator who opposed adding Finland and Sweden to NATO, was blasted by his fellow Republicans.
- According to Hawley, enlarging NATO would restrict the United States’ ability to counter China.
- Ted Cruz said Hawley was “mistaken,” and Marco Rubio wrote an op-ed directly refuting Hawley’s points.
Sen. Josh Hawley received criticisms from fellow Republicans after he opposed adding Finland and Sweden to NATO.
On Wednesday, the Senate approved a resolution to ratify NATO membership for Finland and Sweden in a vote of 95-1-1. Hawley was the only senator who voted “no” while Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky voted “present.”
In a recent op-ed, the Missouri Republican argued that enlarging NATO would make the U.S. commit to Europe in terms of its security thus limiting its ability to counter China.
“We must do less in Europe (and elsewhere) in order to prioritize China and Asia,” Hawley wrote. “Russia is still a threat, but the Chinese Communist Party is a far greater one.”
In an interview with Politico, Sen. Ted Cruz said that Hawley was “mistaken.”
“We don’t beat China by retreating from the rest of the world. We beat China by standing with our allies against our enemies,” the Texas Republican said.
Similarly, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wrote an op-ed that served as a direct refutation of Hawley’s stance on the matter. The op-ed was titled, “A stronger NATO allows America to focus on the threat of Communist China.”
“A strong and unified NATO is a powerful asset in the contest with Beijing,” Rubio wrote. “When Finland and Sweden join the alliance’s ranks and the free peoples of Europe become stronger than ever, more US resources will be available to focus on countering Communist China. If we do not rise to the challenge, it will be too late, and Americans will be held hostage by a totalitarian regime half a world away.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday took a veiled swipe at Hawley. “If any senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote no, I wish them good luck. This is a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support,” the Kentucky Republican said.
GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Wednesday also appeared to offer indirect criticism of Hawley as senators debated the resolution on Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO.
“It would be strange indeed for any senator who voted to allow Montenegro or North Macedonia into NATO to turn around and deny membership to Finland and Sweden. I would love to hear the defense of such a curious vote,” Cotton said. Hawley in 2019 voted to allow North Macedonia into NATO, which is seemingly what Cotton was alluding to in his remarks.