How US Republicans pay homage to Vladimir Putin: doomsday scenario for Europe

The Democrats still govern in Washington. But an event hosted by Trump fans shows that if the Republicans come back to power, dramatic times could dawn for Europe in terms of security policy.

What Mitt Romney said last weekend sounded like a desperate cry for help to his own party. The Republican US Senator was interviewed by the US broadcaster CNN and handed out to party colleagues:

“This is evil.”
“I have idiots on my team.”
“It’s almost a telltale.”
“That makes me sick.”
“That’s disgusting.”

This is how Romney spoke about MPs Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar – both known for their conspiracy ideologies and brutal and right-wing views. In view of the war in Ukraine, the reason for Romney’s verbal outburst must give Germany and all of Europe food for thought.

Because once again the “Grand Old Party” (GOP) is on such a detour that security in the NATO alliance could be endangered. Especially if the party should again provide the US President from 2024.

Visiting right-wing extremists who understand Putin

Is Putin dividing Republicans in the US? (Source: imago images)

But first things first: The two well-known supporters of Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, took part in the right-wing conference “AFPAC” (America First Political Action Conference) in Orlando. The event’s founder and organizer, right-wing extremist Nick Fuentes, delivered a eulogy to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the midst of the Kremlin chief’s war of aggression against Ukraine, Fuentes asked those present: “Can we please give Russia a round of applause?” The crowd then roared: “Putin, Putin, Putin!”. Fuentes grinned, raised his fist and shouted: “Certainly!”

Fuentes proudly invited Virginia MP Marjorie Taylor Greene onto the stage that evening and said, “I’m glad we’re getting to know her a little better now.” This is definitely the beginning of something really great. You hugged and you hugged.

It is these scenes that are heavily criticized not only by Mitt Romney, but also by US Senator Liz Cheney.

The problem: Cheney and Romney have long been considered largely isolated outsiders in the GOP. An ever-increasing part of the Republican top personnel submits to the Trump dominance, including the right-wing extremist excesses.

Extremists are tolerated and encouraged

Figures like Taylor Greene or Gosar are no longer just tolerated, they are encouraged. Donald Trump regularly lavishly praises the two, as does anyone who has given him unquestioning allegiance and spread his lie about the stolen election. The potential new Speaker of the House after November’s election, Kevin McCarthy, has already announced that he would then return Taylor Greene to her currently suspended committee memberships.

The Putin-friendliness in the Trump camp is by no means surprising. For example, connections have long been known between right-wing extremist Putin advisor Aleksandr Dugin and Donald Trump’s accomplice Steve Bannon. The Russian, who has been spanning a global network of right-wing extremists for years, has also been described as “the most dangerous philosopher in the world”. America’s right-wingers like Milo Yiannopoulos, Stephen Miller and Donald Trump know him.

The benevolent statements about the “clever” Putin and the “stupid” NATO, which the ex-president has repeated again and again for days, should therefore hardly come as a surprise. It is still unclear whether Trump will really run again as a US presidential candidate in 2024. But the probability is not small. It is by no means impossible that he can win again.

Trump and DeSantis are the darlings

At the CPAC conference in the past few days, it became clear how much Donald Trump is still to be expected. In a vote among 2,574 participants, he was clearly ahead with a good 59 percent when it came to which Republican candidate one would most likely vote for in 2024. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis followed with around 28 percent, who many consider even more dangerous than Trump. He is also to be expected if Trump does not run.

The man who is running for re-election in Florida this year also spoke at CPAC. In it, DeSantis did not mention Russian President Vladimir Putin or his illegal war in Ukraine. Instead, however, he agitated against the alleged “real authoritarianism” in the allied democracies of Canada and Australia. Justin Trudeau’s alleged Covid-19 tyranny in Canada has been a key issue for Republicans in Orlando.

The poll of America’s conservatives reveals not only who they are willing to follow, but also what issues they think are important. The result can be interpreted as follows: Trump’s lies are having an effect. At the top of the ranking was “electoral integrity,” followed by migration and the wall on the Mexican border. It is part of Trump’s strategy to blame the threat to democracy on the opposing political camp and Washington elites.

Time is running out in Europe

Foreign and security policy followed in a distant place, and the direction of which was not even asked. There is therefore much to suggest that the Republicans are in favor of Europe solving its security policy problems better itself. It’s a view that, slightly modified, goes far in too into the already dwindling more moderate camp of the GOP.

For Europe and thus also for Germany, that would be a nightmare scenario. That’s why the 180-degree turnaround in German foreign policy that Chancellor Olaf Scholz made on Sunday should come just in time. However, experts consider it almost impossible that even massive investments in the Bundeswehr would be enough to achieve genuine independence from the United States in security and defense policy.

As much as the West, led by Joe Biden’s administration, may currently shine through its unity with Vladimir Putin, the alliance is extremely fragile. Because in the oldest democracy in the world, Putin fans actually set the tone for Republicans. Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney’s cries for help are almost exclusively heard by Democrats.

If Biden’s poll numbers don’t improve by November’s midterm elections, a Republican-led US Congress could be Europe’s final wake-up call to prepare for the worst with a contingency plan: another possible total US default. This time, however, with a completely different security situation on their own continent.

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