Thursday, May 26, 2022

‘America First’ is America at its best

‘America First’ is America at its best

It's disingenuous to link the movement with pre-World War II isolationists

As former Trump Administration national security officials who deeply believe in an America First approach to U.S. national security policy, we strongly object to the May 14 Washington Post editorial, “‘America First’ is America at its worst,” which smeared the “America First” movement by associating it with isolationists of the 1930s and ’40s who tried to keep the United States out of World War II and claims those who support America First oppose providing Ukraine with more military aid.

These claims are false and misleading. We asked The Washington Post to run this rebuttal of their editorial, but they refused to publish this full response. Typical for the Post, it refuses to give the conservatives it attacks a fair opportunity to respond.

While there may be others in Washington who casually call themselves “America First,” we at the America First Policy Institute served alongside former President Donald Trump in senior positions at the White House and in departments and agencies throughout the Executive Branch. We are among the leaders of the America First Movement. We have been abundantly clear in condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s destructive invasion of Ukraine and the vile atrocities his military is committing there. We have repeatedly stated the urgency that the United States provide Ukraine with all the weaponry it needs to defend itself against Russia’s unjustifiable invasion. 

It was disingenuous for the Post to associate the America First movement with isolationism or pre-World War II isolationists who opposed the United States entering World War II. Today’s America First calls for an independent and secure America with a strong military and alliances. We want to ensure America’s supply chains and economy are stable and robust, and its people are safe. Through internal strength, our nation is best poised to lead and engage in the world and accomplish more for the American people and the peace, prosperity and freedom of others. America First is not isolationism. Rather, it is purposeful transactional engagement with other nations to serve American interests first.

As a result, although we support providing additional military support to Ukraine, including the recent approval by the House of $40 billion for this purpose, we share the concerns of some members of Congress that these funds be well spent, and alliance members contribute equitably. Frankly, we have strong concerns that, once again, America is doing more than its European allies. Sen. Rand Paul has a proposal to name an inspector general to oversee this funding. The special inspector general for Afghanistan was created for this purpose during the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Given the current problems plaguing the U.S. economy and the fact that Ukraine is now the number one recipient of U.S. military aid, we believe it is essential to ensure accountability for the large sums America is committing to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion.

America First foreign policy and strong U.S. leadership make the world safer and represent America at its best. Contrary to many liberals, conservative hawks and deep state leakers, the leadership of Mr. Trump did not make the world less safe; it did exactly what it was designed to do — make America strong again and the world a safer place with a purposeful, transactional foreign policy that put the interests of our nation and the American people first.

As history shows us, the only time this century Russia didn’t invade a neighbor was during the four years when Mr. Trump served as commander in chief. America First does not mean America alone. As the only true guardians of America First foreign policy, we unquestionably oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine; we want the United States to send the Ukrainian military the weapons it needs and ensure accountability for the military aid we are providing to Ukraine.

• Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Keith Kellogg was an assistant to the president and national security adviser to former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence. He is currently co-chair of the Center for American Security at the America First Policy Institute. Fred Fleitz was chief of staff of the National Security Council in the Trump administration and a former CIA analyst. He is vice chair of the Center for American Security at the America First Policy Institute.

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