Neo-Conservatism is Alive and Well in the GOP Post-Trump

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been yet another polarizing event in the news cycle. It seems like other topics being covered by the mainstream media that if you do not have the correct opinion then you are some sort of villain, in this case you are a pro-Russian propagandist. So, what is the establishment narrative? Well, it’s simple, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a threat to western democracy and America should be involved, doesn’t that sound familiar? Establishment Neo-Conservatives and Neo-Liberals started ringing the war bells before it was clear that Russia was going to invade Ukraine. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed how the Russian threat to Ukraine could lead to a possible hot conflict between the U.S. and Russia. Republican Senator Roger Wicker suggested that we need to leave the nuclear option on the table. Many politicians have voiced their support for Ukraine, some calling for boots on the ground, and many calling for President Joe Biden to do more to support Ukrainian forces. All of this has done nothing but escalate the war in Ukraine.

Currently, President Biden is increasing financial support for Ukraine. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal recently claimed that Ukraine has received $12 Billion in weapons and financial aid since the start of the invasion, obviously not all of this has come from the US It does seem that this war is dragging out much longer than anticipated by the Russians. It is widely reported that Vladimir Putin thought that taking Ukraine would be an easy task. Now whether this is the case depends on what news sources you are listening to. Some reports have said that Ukraine is holding back the Russian military, other reports have depicted a much bleaker situation for the Ukrainians. Some reports have stated the Ukraine and Russia are close to a cease fire agreement. It is hard to decipher what is really going on in Ukraine.

One thing is for certain, the establishment will never let a good crisis go to waste. President Biden is seeking to send $40 billion in financial aid to Ukraine while the US Pentagon is sending more weapons for Ukrainian forces. On May 1st, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican out of Illinois, proposed a new Authorization of Use of Military Force which, if passed, would allow President Biden to send forces into Ukraine to help restore "Territorial Integrity." It seems since the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan the political establishment is chomping at the bit to get involved in yet another foreign conflict, and the sales pitch is same; this is a threat to western democracy.

Ironically, if the Russian invasion of Ukraine really was such a threat to western democracy as establishment politicians have claimed, President Joe Biden would have taken the opportunity to stop this war from happening, which he did not do. Putin purposed a treaty with Ukraine before the invasion on the conditions that Ukraine will not join NATO, and that the US promises not to station troops or offensive weapons in Ukraine. Other conditions of this treaty were to revive the INF treaty and for the US to withdrawal its forces from NATO member nations in Eastern Europe. If a Russian threat to democracy was so serious President Biden would have negotiated a treaty when Russia offered it, but instead he ignored the treaty offer, which Putin knew he would. Additionally, there was a good chance President Zelensky may have denied the treaty, he has on more than one occasion expressed his intent in joining NATO.

For some reason, all this war and escalation seems totally avoidable when looked at objectively. Even if it wasn’t this was absolutely a missed opportunity for the Republican Party to officially reinvent itself as the new "Anti-war" party, or at least an "anti-useless war party." The idea that a party with major establishment ties will ever be truly "anti-war" is pretty far-fetched, but the new addition of the "Trumpian" conservatives has changed the consensus on war in the Republican Party. Trump and his supporters in the Republican Party have criticized the US’s involvement in foreign conflicts.

Trump certainly did have some "anti-war" stances which seems to have resonated in younger "Trumpian" conservatives. Trump himself routine would flip flop on whether the US should be involved in foreign conflicts, but this isn’t unusual for Trump. Trump claimed to have been against the 2003 invasion of Iraq from the beginning, but even in 2003 Trump flip flopped on whether the invasion was a good idea. There is quite a case to be made that Trump wasn’t antiwar at all, the only thing he can claim is that he didn’t start any new wars, he just continued and escalated the ones started by previous administrations. Regardless of Trumps stances some of his supporters in the Republican Party have taken an isolationist view to heart.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine was an ample opportunity for the Republican Party to reinvent themselves as an antiwar party. They could have unified with a singular common-sense message, no more pointless wars, and then they could have put even more pressure on the democrats to give a clear answer as to why it is in America’s interest to involve ourselves in another conflict. Unfortunately, the "Trumpian" conservative movement in the GOP is still the minority, and the Neo-Conservatives still run the party. So, for now the status quo remains in the GOP, but with the continued addition of "Trumpian" conservatives to the GOP it is not unthinkable that a future Republican Party may be far more isolationist at their base, but I won’t hold my breathe.

Republicans seemed to have band together in their criticisms of Joe Biden over his handling of the Russian-Ukraine war, which has put pressure on Biden to do more. The House just passed Bidens $40 Billion aid package for Ukraine and the Senate will likely pass it soon. This will undoubtedly escalate the already high tensions between the US and Russia, which could lead to war between the US and Russia. So, even after four of Trump in office the Neo-Conservatives are alive and well in the GOP, and for Neo-Conservatives any new war is a necessary war.

Sean Willich is a veteran and an independent writer who writes on American politics and world events. You can find more of his writings on his publication The Semi-Libertarian and you can email him at