(Source: Fox News)
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) joined Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night in what became a contentious interview surrounding the congressman’s argument of the need for American troops in Ukraine.
The congressman and 14 other Republicans penned a letter to the Biden administration asking the president to “take immediate and swift action to provide support to Ukraine in the form of intelligence and weapons,” and urged the administration to “deploy a U.S. military presence in the Black Sea to deter a Russian invasion.”
Turner thanked Carlson for having him on, explaining that the mainstream media was not reporting on the issue, but that it ” is incredibly important for people to understand what Russia is doing, and really the threat to the United States and the threat to the United States’ allies.”
The Fox News host noted that military families are a big part of his audience and asked “I wonder if you could explain to them why it is in America’s interest that their kids risk their lives in Ukraine.”
“Well there’s a couple things which I’m certain you’re aware of…that the United States signed with Russia and Ukraine a treaty to Budapest guaranteeing the territorial integrity of Ukraine in exchange for them, in the dismantling of the Soviet Union, giving up nuclear weapons,” the congressman began.
Turner pointed out Russia’s violation of that agreement in the annexation of Crimea in 2014. He also cited Ukraine’s strategic value to Russia in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline debacle because the nation serves as a pipeline to the rest of Europe.
The point of the letter, according to the congressman, is to raise the importance of the issue so that people understand “that we’re about to see debacle number two of the Biden administration,” with the botched exit from Afghanistan serving as debacle number one.
“So the lesson of 20 years in Afghanistan and the tragic, cowardly, counterproductive exit from Afghanistan is that we need more troops in Ukraine? So why should the average American care about the territorial integrity of Ukraine?” Carlson quipped.
“Ukraine is a strategic import of the Black Sea. Most of the reports that you’ve been seeing of Russia being aggressive with our ships, being aggressive with our planes, are in the area of the Black Sea which is an important area for us and our NATO allies…now we’ve not asked anybody to go to war with Russia, or to send troops to Russia for Ukraine for the purposes of going to war with Russia,” the congressman explained, “but it is incredibly important” that the U.S. provides weapons and intelligence to the Ukrainians.
Turner struggled in relaying the relevance of the issue to the American people as Carlson pressed him again.
“But why is it incredibly important to Americans?” asked Carlson. “I mean, I know from a Ukrainian perspective it’s incredibly important, but why is it important enough to risk American lives to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine when, by the way, our own territorial integrity has been flagrantly violated by a million foreign nationals coming in over the past 10 months? I wonder why the emphasis on Ukraine’s borders and not ours.”
“Well, I think everyone has emphasis on our borders, Tucker. But certainly, I think you would–” Turner began.
“Have you called for American troops to our borders?” the Fox News host interrupted.
“Everyone has called for American troops that is on our side, Tucker, but I think what you’re missing is the fact that because the president has failed in Afghanistan, both Russia and China are looking at threatening their neighbors, including Taiwan, including Ukraine, countries that are important to both our allies and to the strategic importance of the areas in which they are,” the congressman tried to elaborate as he grew visibly irritated.
(Source: Fox News)
Turner doubled down on the initial call from the letter to the administration for President Biden to provide intelligence and weapons to Ukraine.
“But hold on, why would we take Ukraine’s side and not Russia’s side? It’s a sincere question. If you’re looking at America’s perspective, why? Who’s got the energy reserves? Who’s the major player in world affairs? Who’s the potential counterbalance against China, which is the actual threat?” Carlson asked. “Why would we take Ukraine’s side? Why wouldn’t we be on Russia’s side? I’m totally confused.”
“Well, clearly, maybe if you get out a map and you look to see where the Black Sea is and Romania, where we have our missile defense system, with Greece, and Turkey, the entrance to the Black Sea and then from there you look at what the conflicts have already been on Russia’s areas there. Ukraine is a democracy. Russia is an authoritarian regime that is seeking to impose its will upon a validly elected democracy in Ukraine and we’re on the side of democracy,” Turner snapped, “That’s why people were chasing those planes in Afghanistan and wouldn’t be chasing Russian ones.”
The congressman still had not persuaded Carlson of the relevance to the American people.
“I guess I’m for democracy in other countries. I guess. But I’m really for America and I just think that our interest is in counterbalancing the actual threat, which is China,” Carlson explained, “And the only other country with any throw weight that might help us do that is Russia. And our continuation of the Cold War has pushed Russia toward China, and that does not serve our interests in any way. Does it?”
The congressman struggled to find a more compelling argument, restating his points about Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
“How did that hurt America exactly? They came into Crimea. I guess I’m against that, but I didn’t notice a detectable decline in American living standards,” Carlson responded.
Turner again cited Russia’s militarization of Crimea.
“Ok, but why do I care again?” asked Carlson.
“You care because what Russia is doing as they are rebuilding their area access of denial with Kaliningrad, Crimea, and Syria to fortify what they had when they had the Warsaw Pact countries, many of which now are in NATO and headed toward NATO, so that we can make certain that liberty and democracy is strengthened. You should be against – I’m sure you are, Tucker – any country using tanks to invade another and putting their will on that country and changing that country’s borders,” Turner fired back.
“Yeah, academically I am,” the Fox News host conceded. “But you know, there are a lot of priorities on the map here. Last question, so you sent this letter to President Biden asking for the commitment of the American troops to a foreign country—”
“You misread the letter,” Turner interjected. “Because what it said, it actually tells specifically – we did not say send troops into Ukraine. We said, make certain that there’s a military presence in the area so we can provide aid to Ukraine in two important areas, intelligence. If we have troops in the area we can watch, we know what happens, we can know what Russia is doing. And the second is lethal weapons so Ukraine can defend itself.”
“I got it. Send lawyers, guns, and money,” Carlson simplified before doubling down on his argument for focusing on the crisis on America’s southern border.
“I supported Donald Trump in closing the border, including defending him in his impeachment trial, which you yourself reported. And that border was being closed under the policies that we had under Donald Trump which I supported when I supported Donald Trump,” Turner maintained.
“Actually, you wrote a letter to Donald Trump in which you said yeah, protect the border, but make certain that we don’t in any way take troops or materiel from our foreign commitments and bring them to the border. You said that in your letter. So I just thought that’s just a different perspective,” the Fox News host fired back.
“Donald Trump sent lethal weapons and intelligence. I’m a senior member of the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee. What I’ve asked for in that letter, Donald Trump did,” Turner answered.
“Oh, I’m aware. I thought it was stupid then, I think it’s stupid now,” Carlson said.
Turner, who had become visibly frustrated by the end of the interview, closed by telling Carlson that it was apparent he needed to be schooled on Ukraine.
“Tucker, I don’t know who you’re arguing with here because I’m on your side on all of those issues, except apparently you need a little education on Ukraine. I’d be glad to send you some stuff on it. Donald Trump thought it was important and I supported Donald Trump’s policies there,” Turner concluded.
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