On Friday October 13th, Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska), signed onto an 19-governors’ co-signed letter to President Joe Biden. There were many topics addressed in the letter, but Israel was foremost among them.
As a person with Ashkenazi and Sephardic roots, I share in the governor’s passion for keeping the State of Israel safe.
It is not unusual for our attorney general and governor to sign onto letters. Legislators also co-author letters on various topics. The co-signing of letters is a trending means of advocacy and communication used by elected officials.
In reading the letter of October 13, I first looked to evaluate the content like any other reader would. Second, I evaluated whether the positions and arguments made in that content have a kernel of truth to them – are they anchored in some objective reality?
For example, during my last campaign, I was attacked for my positions on trapping and wildlife management. While the attack piece did not tell the whole story about my views, it was attached to at least a modicum of verifiable fact on my positions. It presented a factual argument on policy rooted in, at least, some basis of truth. In other words, it set up a debate on policy questions for the reader. It was advocacy in a campaign so naturally, it would take a position mostly opposed to my own.
The governors’ piece does not pass this test. The difficulty with the governors’ piece – joined in by our own Governor Dunleavy – comes in the following sentence:
“Unfortunately, this type of international chaos and violence is a direct result of (the Biden Administration’s) appeasement-first foreign policy.”
It then asks President Biden to “radically change course.”
This is an appallingly inaccurate, unfair statement, unmoored from any reality I can identify. In fact, it is ironic given the support that each governor (save Republican Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire) is providing to the election of Donald Trump.
Here is some important context for further explanation. It comes from an article just three days ago in the reputable, The Guardian newspaper:
As Donald Trump’s “America First” philosophy has gained popularity among Republicans, anti-Ukraine sentiment has spread through the party’s base and now into the halls of Congress.
Even as bipartisan support for Ukraine remains robust in the Senate, a majority of the House Republican conference appears skeptical if not outright hostile to the idea of more funding.
Continuing, author Joan Greve reports as follow:
The rising opposition to funding Ukraine among Republicans appears to be a direct response to Trump’s approach to foreign policy, which has resonated deeply with the more isolationist faction of his party. That philosophy has frustrated establishment Republicans, who embrace the party’s traditional vision of diplomacy, remembering the days of Ronald Reagan using the country’s military and economic might to fight communism abroad.
“Republicans once stood against communism and thugs like Vladimir Putin, but it’s a shame that not every Republican is speaking out against what Russia is doing to Ukraine,” said Gunner Ramer, a spokesperson for the group Republicans for Ukraine.
The facts are these: no historian will ever write that President Biden was unconcerned, disinterested or otherwise indifferent about the fate of Ukraine. No person can conceivably claim that President Biden is someone appeasing Russia relative to Ukraine. So, when Governor Dunleavy and his 17 governor allies claim that Biden should “radically change course,” to do so would mean the abandonment of Ukraine. Do they want this?
Put simply, if there is a party of appeasement, it just isn’t – at least today – the Democratic Party. In fact, in my modest efforts to identify a sitting Democratic congressperson or U.S. senator who opposes further aide to Ukraine, I couldn’t find any. But, it is indisputable that, particularly in the U.S. House, scores of majority Republicans are ready to abandon virtually all aide to Ukraine. In fact, The Guardian reports that this is one of the obstacles (there are many) to their selecting a new Speaker of the House.
Remember, these governors – save Governor Sununu – will simply not challenge President Trump relative to his respect and even admiration for President Putin. Therefore, they will not pen an entreaty to President Biden concerning American support for Ukraine’s efforts to fight tyranny similar to their Israel letter. If Trump doesn’t care, they don’t either. (Happily, our own Republican U.S. senators and Congresswoman Mary Peltola (D – Alaska) support military and other aide for Ukraine).
Otherwise, the 19-governors’ co-signed letter lists the predicable things they want the President to do relative to Israel.
- It asks that President Biden “unequivocally condemn these attacks.” Done.
- It asks that President Biden “project American strength”. Done with the Eisenhower and Ford carrier groups, and delivery of arms.
- It asks that President Biden “support Israel’s unquestioned right to respond and defend itself.” Done.
- It asks that President Biden “speak boldly and act decisively”. Done.
- It asks that President Biden provide “unequivocal support for Israel”. Done.
- It asks that President Biden “immediately freeze the $6 billion” payment to Iran. Done.
Again, if the facts were that President Biden was disinterested in Ukraine, disliked NATO as Trump appears to, offered no support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, then calling his foreign policy “appeasement-first” may have some justification. But, when the opposite set of facts are true, why would Governor Dunleavy say otherwise?
I ask only one thing: that my own governor co-author letters that have some factual justification. Calling President Biden an appeaser has no basis on the historical record that I can discern. The opposite is true for the presidential candidate these governors champion.
Representative Andy Josephson (D – Anchorage) represents House District 13 in Anchorage. He was first elected in 2012.