Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy unveiled a foreign policy platform Monday that would significantly reduce the United States’s international involvement, declaring, “We will be Uncle Sucker no more.”
Ramaswamy said in a post in The American Conservative that the U.S. “squandered” its opportunity immediately following the end of the Cold War to remain the world’s lone superpower, allowing Russia and China to work together to threaten the country’s position at the top. He cited several former leaders of the U.S., including Presidents George Washington and Richard Nixon, as guides for his foreign policy.
“Rather than spending billions projecting power into global vacuums where our allies will not spend to maintain it themselves, we will put America First again—as George Washington urged—as we recalibrate and consider our true interests,” Ramaswamy said.
He said the first inaugural address of President Thomas Jefferson, known as the Washington Doctrine of Unstable Alliances, provides inspiration of where the country should begin with its foreign policy. The doctrine was the originator of the famous early warning against “entangling alliances.”
But Ramaswamy said he admires Nixon’s foreign policy the most of any president, noting that the 37th president ended U.S. involvement in Vietnam and met with Chinese leader Mao Zedong instead of “counting Mao’s crimes or launching a moralistic push for his downfall.”
Ukraine and Russia
Ramaswamy said he similarly would plan to visit Moscow as president in 2025 to negotiate terms to end the war between Russia and Ukraine. He said he would “accept” Russian control of the territories that its forces have taken and promise to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO in exchange for Russia ending its military alliance with China.
He said he would also end sanctions that have been placed on Russia and return it to the global market.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has issued a list of principles that are necessary for the war to come to an end, including total Russian withdrawal from all occupied Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.
Ramaswamy’s position on Ukraine drew plenty of fire during the first GOP presidential debate last week. He was the only candidate on stage to raise his hand when moderators asked who would not keep supporting Ukraine.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley retorted that he was “choosing a murderer over a pro-American country,” and earned applause when she told him: “You have no foreign policy experience and it shows.”
Ramaswamy’s position is also in direct contradiction to the policy of the Biden administration and European allies. They say that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is a violation of international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty and have refused to recognize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s asserted control over occupied territories.
They, along with Republican supporters of Ukraine, say that international economic and military assistance to Kyiv is essential to help push Russia’s invading forces out of Ukraine and demonstrate that military aggression over a sovereign country’s borders cannot stand.
But Ramaswamy contends a finite NATO border must be established with no greater expansion, and that European members should step up their defense spending.
“Uncle Sam should not serve as Uncle Sucker to Europe. While European and American interests remain aligned, our spending priorities are not. No longer will America subsidize European weakness,” he said.
Taiwan and China
Ramaswamy said he would call for “strategic clarity” on defending U.S. interests in Taiwan instead of the current U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity.
China has considered Taiwan, which is a self-governing democracy, to be part of its territory and seeks reunification with the island. The U.S. has recognized China as the only legitimate government and considers Taiwan’s status to be unsettled.
The conservative entrepreneur said Taiwan would need to increase its defense spending and military readiness to “acceptable levels” if they want to partner with the U.S. for its defense. He added that he would ensure Taiwan has the weapons it needs to defend itself for a seaborne invasion and, in the future, for a long-term “insurgency against any occupying force, if needed.”
He said he would put pressure on India to have closer ties to the U.S. and make a deal for the two countries to share nuclear submarine technology. He said the U.S. should be able to rely on India to assist with a naval blockade of a passageway China uses to import oil if China invades Taiwan.
Ramaswamy said he would call on U.S. allies such as Japan and Australia to expand their defense budgets, and France and the United Kingdom to invest in poorer countries to limit Chinese economic influence.
The Middle East
Ramaswamy said he hopes for a rollback in U.S. involvement in the Middle East, arguing that an “uneasy equilibrium” has been reached with developments such as the Abraham Accords — the agreement brokered during the Trump administration that established ties between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — and further U.S. involvement would only cause imbalance.
“We should therefore return to the Nixonian wisdom of keeping a minimal footprint in a region beset by historic grievances that Americans neither can change nor should even try to change with social engineering, unless a major great power threat emerges,” Ramaswamy said.
He previously stirred controversy earlier this month over comments he made saying he hopes Israel can be at a place that by 2028, additional aid “won’t be necessary.”
The candidate said he wants to “reinvigorate” the Monroe Doctrine, which declared the Western hemisphere closed to further intervention by European powers, by keeping out other countries’ influence.
“A safe Western Hemisphere makes for a safe America,” he said. “To our foes who wish ill upon us and our hemispheric partners, I say keep your distance or you will be made to regret it.”
Laura Kelly contributed.