Missouri Senator Josh Hawley Promises to Oppose NATO Expansion into Finland and Sweden

On August 1, 2022, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley announced that he would vote “No” on Finland’s and Sweden’s moves to join NATO.

Hawley’s move would definitely go against his colleagues in the Senate who by and large abide by universalist foreign policy priors. The overwhelming majority of the Senate has already demonstrated its commitment to universalist projects by dumping tons of military aid into Ukraine. Now, they want to expand an over-extended military alliance structure by incorporating two countries that have historically exercised relative degrees of neutrality in foreign affairs. 

Hawley highlighted his thoughts on NATO expansion in an op-ed published at The National Interest. The Missouri Senator stressed that China poses a greater threat to the US, thereby necessitating more national security resources dedicated towards containing it in Asia as opposed to focusing on Europe. 

 “Finland and Sweden want to join the Atlantic Alliance to head off further Russian aggression in Europe. That is entirely understandable given their location and security needs,” Hawley stated. 

“But America’s greatest foreign adversary doesn’t loom over Europe. It looms in Asia. I am talking of course about the People’s Republic of China. And when it comes to Chinese imperialism, the American people should know the truth: the United States is not ready to resist it. Expanding American security commitments in Europe now would only make that problem worse—and America, less safe,” Hawley added. 

Back in May, Finland and Sweden announced their plan to join NATO after Russia’s military incursion in Ukraine. Thus far, 19 NATO member states have approved Finland’s and Sweden’s membership application for NATO. The US has yet to approve these countries joining NATO. All 30 member states have to approve Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.

As the Hill reported, Hawley “was one of the 11 conservatives who opposed the $40 billion Ukraine aid package Congress passed in May.”

“As the 2018 and 2022 U.S. National Defense Strategies both acknowledge, the United States cannot defeat China and Russia in two major wars at the same time. And we are not where we need to be in Asia,” Hawley emphasized in this post.  

Due to “nation-building activities in the Middle East and legacy commitments in Europe,” Hawley believes the US is not ready to deter Chinese expansion in the Pacific. 

Hawley does not want the US government to completely abandon NATO. Instead, he called on European allies to shoulder more of the burden for defending Europe by increasing their military spending.

While Hawley is correct in noting that Russia does not pose much of a threat towards the US, his foreign policy stances leave a lot to be desired.

For one, NATO is an outdated alliance that serves no American interest. It’s the very entangling alliance that the Founding generation warned about. 

The US should gradually remove its military assets from Europe and allow for these wealthy nations to rebuild their defenses. 

The Chinese question is more nuanced. Indeed, China is a strategic adversary for the US. However, it’s not pursuing a conventional great power conflict like many people who are stuck on 20th century geopolitical assumptions. Thanks to the American ruling class’s misguided policies to fully open up trade and mass migration with China, the Chinese Communist Party has been able to exploit China’s trade relations with America and embed fifth column agents within American universities and businesses. 

A reasonable America First approach to tackling China consists of decoupling economically from it and banning Chinese nationals from immigrating to the US while also prohibiting them from investing in and holding properties stateside. Pursuing a conventional form of military containment against China could have the sleepwalk into a disastrous conflict with nuclear implications. 

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