You know the meme. The middle-aged man, his sad six-head, his sadder horse-shoe hair, his sparely whiskered scruff, his narrow eyes staring bleakly back at you. Then the punchline: “Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point.”
Nobody who takes part in online-comment scrimmages enjoys being the man in the meme—and not just for the early onset alopecia. Acknowledging your obviously wrong interlocutors made a cogent critique is the equivalent of admitting Stalin was a good aphorist. Why, to borrow another internet meme, hand it to them?
Logical consistency isn’t always the province of one side—even for those who are egregiously wrong about most things, like Marxists, podcast enthusiasts, Pittsburgh Steelers fans, and virtue-signalers who eagerly append the Ukraine flag emoji to their Twitter bios.
So it’s with a heavy heart I confess: the Washington war machiners are right. You can’t offer material and moral support to Israel while snubbing Ukraine. *Slams down laptop lid to have a good cry.*
*Composes self.* Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin, who makes no spare-rib bones about his incinerate-China fetish, pens an incontestable case in “The wars in Israel and Ukraine are linked, along with the aid.” Congress can’t pick and choose victims to send cachets of arms to, Rogin asserts. America’s moral stature must be steadfast. If we butt our way into one war, we better sit our big, fat, red-white-and-blue behind in them all. Dalibor Roháč of the blob’s premier neocon think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, agrees, rejecting the notion “the United States can only focus on just one issue at a time.”
(Funny, I didn’t think America could focus on any issue ever without getting bogged down in meta arguments over ulterior motives. See: our current lack of a Speaker of the House.)
Not all Republicans concur, specifically the MAGA-inflected variety who view our untraceable shipments of DPICMs, HIMARS, Howitzers, Mi-17s, Stingers, Javelins, boom-booms, limb-choppers, pants-splitters, flame-busters, big-shoot-em-ups, and whatever nitroglycerin-packed human-jelly producers we have stockpiled around Quantico to the AFU as costly and imprudent.
But that same entanglement aversion isn’t being applied to the all-out war in Israel. Therein lies the logical hole for Beltway belligerents to fill. Whatever their reason—reflexive loyalty to Eretz Yisrael, Hunter Biden hatred, philosemitism, or an evangelical desire to immanentize the eschaton—many Republicans are embracing U.S. support of Israel’s bloody barrage against Hamas in Gaza, all while bleating “America First!”.
The most cognitively dissonant example is Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, who shamelessly tweeted “Israel is facing existential threat. Any funding for Ukraine should be redirected to Israel immediately.” The directive is so dull-witted, unreflective, and dry-heavingly hilarious that it deserves to be saved for posterity in the Library of Congress.
It’s true Israel faces the threat of annihilation—when hasn’t it since President Truman was the first world leader to formally recognize the Jewish state? But Ukraine is in the same fight for survival. Ukrainians have endured the same brutal, unfathomable war crimes endured by Israelites during the latest pogrom: civilian kidnappings, wanton torture, rape of women, murder of elderly, stomach-turning infanticide.
The same Potomac power-pushers demanding U.S. troops rappel down in droves to retake the Donbas have a point in calling out meddling-skeptic Republicans who, despite not giving two pins about Russian irredentism for eighteen months, now unquestionably back immediate aid to Israel.
Interventionism à la carte makes sense in some contexts. In fact, for an overstretched empire like America’s, it’s necessary. The global policeman can’t monitor every beat. And as, to use Christopher Caldwell’s term, “custodian of the global economy,” American can’t keep sparkling every corner.
But does responsible statecraft, with its nuances, check and balances, and long-term vision, matter to the average voter who only pictures “HYPOCRITE” in blindingly bright letters when a lawmaker demands money and arms to fight off tyranny there instead of there?
Consistency, despite being the “hobgoblin of little minds,” is still a valuable currency in politics. For all the warmongers’ faults, for all the piles of dead bodies and bones, leveled cities, wasted tax dollars, questionable outcomes, and entire countries rendered desolate and governless, their willingness to poke their nose into where it need not go is fairly predictable. Hypocrisy really is the tribute that vice pays to virtue—if bankrupting the wealthiest country on earth through foreign adventurism counts as a virtue.
Say what you like about the tenets of pax Americana, dear reader, at least it’s an ethos. A conceited, melioristic, and unsustainable ethos, but one nonetheless.