Sen. Josh Hawley on China and Ukraine

Heritage Explains

Sen. Josh Hawley on China and Ukraine

Heritage Explains: China | Bonus Episode

One of the more contentious points currently being debated in foreign policy today is the relationship of the United States to the conflict in between Russia and Ukraine. Many see parallels between the current situation between Russia and Ukraine and that between China and Taiwan, as we talked about in the series. Some say that the United States should be more active in the war in Ukraine, others less.

What you’re about to hear are remarks from Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, entitled China and Ukraine: A Time for Truth, presented here at The Heritage Foundation in February of 2023. In this talk, he argues for a foreign policy that focuses more on Taiwan, and less on Ukraine.

Mark Guiney: Welcome back to another bonus episode of Heritage Explains. We have another great series coming your way on June 7th, but until then, we want to keep bringing you great conversations on the threat of communist China. One of the more contentious points currently being debated in foreign policy today is the relationship of the United States to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Many see parallels between this situation and the one between China and Taiwan, as we talked about in the series.

Some say that the United States should be more active in the war in Ukraine, others less. What you’re about to hear are remarks from Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri entitled China and Ukraine, A Time for Truth presented here at the Heritage Foundation in February of 2023. In this talk, Senator Hawley argues for a foreign policy that focuses more on Taiwan and less on Ukraine. As always, thanks for listening to Heritage Explains. If you’ve got any feedback, send it Our way at [email protected] and we hope you enjoy this talk from Senator Josh Hawley.

Events: Welcome to China and Ukraine, a time for truth. Please welcome Dr. Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation.

Dr. Kevin Roberts: Thank you. It’s great to see this theater full, almost full. Those of you online, those of you on C-SPAN, thanks for joining us. Senator Hawley is our speaker today, as you know, and it’s fitting that the senior senator from Missouri, who was also attorney general, also one of the leading constitutional attorneys in the United States, having argued cases in front of the Supreme Court, would be here on Heritage’s 50th anniversary.

So for all of you in this in-person audience, those of you online, those of you who have been Heritage interns, alumni, a round of applause to you for being part of this great institution. Senator Hawley has become a leading voice really on every issue facing the United States. Obviously, those of us who are conservatives, which would be all of us at Heritage, are grateful for the common sense and also the depth of analysis that he brings to all of those issues. Today his focus is on China and Ukraine and his speech entitled, A Time For Truth. Please join me in welcoming Senator Josh Hawley to the Heritage Foundation.

Senator Josh Hawley: Thank you so much, Kevin. Thank you for that kind introduction. Thanks to all of you for being here. It is especially gratifying to be here on the 50th birthday of the Heritage Foundation. For five decades now, Heritage has contributed critical ideas at critical times in our country’s history and at another critical juncture in our country’s history. I look forward to the contributions that you’re not only making now, but that you’re going to make for 50 years to come. And I particularly want to say that I’m excited as a former Heritage intern, I was an intern, maybe I shouldn’t say the year. I was an intern back in the summer of 2000, so time does fly, but my time here was tremendous and congratulations again to Heritage on this 50th birthday. I want to tell you about another experience that I had in recent years.

Three years ago, in October of 2019, I had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong. It was not a standard ceremonial sort of visit. In fact, the State Department was not a big fan of me visiting at all. They tried to talk me out of it. I eventually said, I’m going to go no matter what, and so we were. It was in the midst of major protests, as you may remember in the city during that fall of 2019. Beijing of course, had originally promised the city of Hong Kong a measure of independence that once the city passed into Chinese control, it would be able to keep its unique freedoms. The promise was one country, two systems, as you might recall, those were the days by the fall of 2019. We saw that that promise, like so many, that the Beijing government has made over the years was a complete and total lie.

As soon as it could, the Chinese Communist Party cracked down on Hong Kong with the Draconian national security law to crush any dissent. The message was, Xi Jinping’s way will be the only way, and in the fall of 2019, I wanted to go see what was happening for myself. So I took the trip, I arrived there. I had the opportunity to go out onto the streets myself. I remember my first night there in the city, the consulate bade me a good evening and kindly suggested I might want to remain in the hotel. As soon as the consulate was away, I said, now it’s time to hit the streets. And so off we went to where the protests were raging that night in the Mong Kok district in particular, we saw cars blazing in the streets. We saw protestors spraying free, “Hong Kong” on the windows. It was really a scene of chaos.

We saw the Pro Chinese riot police facing off with young women and men there to defend and stand for the freedoms of their city. I made friends there. I’m sad to say that some of them have since gone to prison. Joshua Wong, Jimmy Lee, some of them are now in exile. I will not forget that trip because it was there that I was able to see firsthand the nightmare that the Chinese Communist Party offers the world. And make no mistake about it. In the Hong Kong crackdown, we see the true face of Chinese tyranny and we may yet see it again in other places around the world, including with and beginning with Taiwan. And my worry is if we do not change course soon, we may not be able to do anything about it. It’s not very popular to say that openly, and I’m not very popular with my colleagues when I do. Dozens of lawmakers and so-called experts and talking heads have claimed that an invasion of Taiwan simply will not happen or that if it does we’ll of course, prevail.

They say that China is afraid to challenge us or just that they won’t. These people prefer to tell a familiar and comforting story. It’s become a bit of a bedtime story in the foreign policy community, which is goes like this. That winning the Cold War allows us to police the world for all time. No problem. They want us to believe our military might is infinite, that American power faces no real constraints and that we ought to use it to try and reshape the world. Now they want us to believe we can fight an endless proxy war in Ukraine and somehow, some way none of this will deter our ability to stop China rather from invading Taiwan or deter our ability to stop China elsewhere. Curiously enough, this story of American empire, and that’s really what it is. A story of liberal empire is not particularly partisan.

It’s told by neo-conservatives on the right and liberal globalists on the left. Together, they make up what you might call the uniparty, the DC establishment that transcends all changing administrations. It’s hard to challenge the uniparty. They’ve gotten pretty good at telling their favorite story, which is why anybody who questions them these days gets labeled as anti-American or Putin’s puppet from a hundred different quarters. But today I thought maybe we’d try something different. I thought maybe we’d try something a little unique for Washington. I thought maybe today we’d try telling the truth. And the truth is Americans have been sold a bill of goods. Our current foreign policy is not working and it has not worked for decades. It’s not working for our security, it’s not working for our economy. And above all, it is not working for the American people. It has cost them, many of them, their jobs, their towns, their communities.

I’ve seen it myself in my own state. All of that thanks to the bad trade deals that we were promised would make all of us richer. Now that hasn’t happened. Instead, our industrial base has been hollowed out and good paying jobs that support people in working communities like the one that I grew up in have seen those jobs go overseas. But our current foreign policy isn’t working even according to its own standards. It is falling apart at the seams with the uniparty doing its level best to patch it together by writing blank checks to other countries. The truth is we are over-committed. Our elites are diluted by the dream of liberal empire. The uniparty tells us that we’re on the right side of history and tough trade-offs don’t exist. That’s just not true. We do have a lot of military power on our side, but it isn’t deployed where it should be.

It isn’t marshaled in the way we need it to be and America and the world is going to face the consequences. Let’s tell the truth. China’s on the march and we are not prepared to stop them. Let me just say that again. China is on the march and we are not at this moment prepared to stop them. We didn’t stop them cheating on trade. We didn’t stop them stealing our industry. We didn’t stop them in Hong Kong. And now if China invades Taiwan, they would prevail. Let me say that again. If China were to invade Taiwan today, they would prevail, which is why we are at an inflection point, a moment when we have to make some tough decisions. And I would just submit to you a moment for real change. It is time to adopt a different foreign policy, a nationalist foreign policy. Now, we hear a lot these days about something that’s called the rules-based international order.

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase. Politicians and other experts invoke it whenever they want to send a few billion dollars more to some other country. But let’s be clear on what we’re talking about. The rules-based international order isn’t some kingdom of heaven. It’s a form of liberal empire. It’s founded on the assumption that if we abolish borders and allow capital to move freely and empower the giant multinational corporations, that somehow America and the American people will be better off for that. Somehow will make America more like the world and the world more like America, free minds and free markets or something like that. That’s what we’ve been promised anyway for years now. Listen, there was never a time when that was a good idea and it is apparent now that has been disastrous for this country almost from the start. All the way back in December 2001, we admitted China to the World Trade Organization that I will submit to you will go down as one of the gravest strategic errors committed by any great power in the last two or three centuries.

Simply put, it has been a disaster for this nation. Now, that’s not what we were told at the time. At the time, the uniparty told us this would make everybody richer, that we could offshore all the jobs we didn’t really want, and poured in a bunch of cheap junk without undermining our own prosperity. They also argued that this would democratize China. Do you remember that argument? That this somehow would lead to an opening up of the Chinese regime and that if we brought China into the global economic order, Tiananmen Square and other horrors would be things of the past? Well, having been in Hong Kong in the fall of 2019, I can tell you that was a catastrophic misjudgment and the uniparty’s claims were catastrophic mistakes. One country, two systems was not China’s first broken promise. After joining the WTO, China promptly cheated.

The Chinese Communist Party took full advantage of its access to global markets to enrich who? Itself. But simultaneously shielded its own economy from foreign competition and who paid the price? America did. More specifically, blue collar workers in America paid the price. Good blue collar jobs that once provided Americans with a living wage were siphoned off overseas. Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party got rich as the Chinese economy boomed. They built their military on the backs of our middle class. And now that military, not only massive but increasingly modernized, is poised for a cross straight invasion visit with that guy. Listen, let me just ask, what did our leadership do while all of this was happening? While China was growing in power, while they were cheating on trade, while they were taking away our jobs? Well, I’ll tell you what, they did exactly, the wrong things. While China was prospering and American towns were withering away, the uniparty set its sights on the Middle East.

We heard a lot about making the world safe for democracy and how American blood and treasure could turn these nations into images of the west. Well, that project failed too. It failed spectacularly. We invested billions of dollars there and lost hundreds, thousands of American lives, all while China rose unimpeded. And the people who are responsible for those misjudgments are still members of the DC establishment in good standing and nobody has ever been held accountable. And now we’re hearing the same siren song again. This time it’s about Ukraine. If we only send a few more weapons, a few more billion, or maybe it’s a few more hundred billion dollars, then we’ll really have a stable rules-based international order. Maybe we should do some more nation building. Maybe we can even force regime change in Russia. All ideas that the uniparty is excited about, all ideas that are nonsense, they’re the wrong ideas at the wrong time.

We should have seen the threat from China coming years ago, but the uniparty didn’t and they still aren’t taking it seriously. Right now we have leaders on both parties, former NATO brass telling us that defending Ukraine is basically the same thing as deterring China. I’m sure you’ve heard this argument. It’s all over town. It’s all over the media that if one dictator is allowed to cease territory by force in one place, then no one’s territory is safe anywhere else. Now, I noticed these people don’t ever seem to be particularly concerned about our territory, namely our southern border. But let’s just set that aside for one moment and let’s consider this idea that somehow by fighting Ukraine we’re actually deterring China in Asia. The truth is that China’s path to global superpower runs through Asia.

In order to establish itself as the global power it seeks to be, China must establish hegemony in Asia, which means we must stop them there. As Napoleon once is said to remark, “If you want to take Vienna, take Vienna,” if you want to deter China in Asia, deter them in Asia. The idea that spending money in Ukraine will somehow stop China’s military buildup and its imperial ambitions elsewhere is simply fanciful. And yet, Congress has poured billions over a hundred billion and counting into Ukraine defenses at a time when the American people are still dealing with sky-high inflation and there’s no end in sight. We will soon see, I have no doubt, requests for billions more in blank checks to Ukraine from this administration to be signed off on by this Congress. But that’s not really even the core problem. The core problem is our actions in Ukraine are directly affecting our ability to deter our most pressing adversary.

That is China in the Pacific. Let’s just consider where we are. Let’s talk about our position. For starters, the more US resources that we devote to Europe, the fewer things we have available to strengthen deterrence in the Pacific. Now, for some things like heavy armor units, that might not matter a whole lot, but it matters a lot for the capabilities that we need to deter China from invading Taiwan. Let me give you some examples. Both Ukraine and Taiwan require many of the same weapons, including the javelin and stinger missiles, just for example. And our industrial base as as has been widely reported, is already strapped for capacity. That’s because we need to draw on many of the same suppliers for the defense, both of Ukraine and of Taiwan. And we’re doing our best to increase production, but that will take years. And all of this means that when we pour our military power into Ukraine, that comes at a cost.

And the truth is we cannot defend Ukraine and stop China in Taiwan and see to our own military requirements at the same time. We simply cannot do it all and frankly, we shouldn’t have to. Some of the world’s wealthiest nations are our allies in Europe, but right now we are the ones, not the Europeans, who are doing the heavy lifting in Europe. In fact, we have sent more weapons to Ukraine than all of Europe has combined, than all of Europe combined. And those choices are weakening us in one place. The key place, the Pacific, where we require strength. Let me be blunt, the uniparty’s way is not sustainable. It is a path to failure and this is why China is now positioned to strike with overwhelming force and seize Taiwan. Look, invading Taiwan has been Xi’s goal for years. He wants control of the Pacific.

He knows that’s the key to his global dominance. He is determined to cement his place in Chinese history. Just six months ago before the Chinese Communist Party’s Congress in Beijing, Xi said that, “The historical wheels of national reunification and national rejuvenation are rolling forward and the complete reunification of the motherland must be achieved.” I love the syntactical brilliance of the socialist into fascist ideologies mashed up together. But there you are. He is saying plainly what it is he wants to do and we haven’t taken him seriously enough. After so many failures, if we do not stop China in Asia, nothing else we do against China anywhere else will matter much. So what happens if tomorrow we wake up and an invasion of Taiwan has begun? What can America do about it? Well, let’s assess our strategic position again, this time looking specifically at the Pacific.

We’ve got plenty of aircraft, but they’re concentrated at a small number of air bases, which makes them easy targets. And China has invested in weapons and sensors that we haven’t fielded, undercutting our air power advantage. What else do we have? Well, we have carrier strike groups, but it’s not clear how they’re going to help us defeat a Chinese invasion. China has built up defenses designed to neutralize them early in a fight or keep them so far away that they won’t be useful. Now, we do have an undersea advantage. That’s true, but we only have so many submarines. We’ve only got so many weapons to fire from them, and we’ve only got so many places to reload or refit them. Those are hard limits. We’re also at risk ourselves, especially our forces in Guam. Guam is not well defended against China’s missiles to say nothing of China’s special operations forces.

And I haven’t even mentioned yet, China’s nuclear arsenal, which of course is always looming in the background. And meanwhile, our own military architecture and space is dangerously vulnerable and our logistics forces are already overstretched. So given all of that, let’s just assume for a moment that the worst happens. China invades and seizes Taiwan. Maybe we try to stop it. We’re not successful and the island’s lost. What would that mean for us? Well, nothing good. If China conquers Taiwan, Xi and the Chinese Communist Party will view it as a world historical victory. They will see it as the dawn of a new Chinese century that puts the lie to America’s promises of liberty. And Americans themselves, we will confront a new and frankly terrifying reality. Every American will feel it. The price hikes, the supply chain disruptions that we’ve experienced in the last two years. Those will pale in comparison, product shortages will become commonplace.

We’re talking about everything from basic medicine to consumer electronics. By some estimates, war over Taiwan would send us into a deep recession with no clear way out, since huge swaths of our economy runs on Taiwanese, excuse me, semiconductors. We will lose more jobs. Our industry will suffer, and the economic consequences are just the start. If China takes Taiwan, it will be able to station its own military forces there. It can then use its position as a springboard for further conquest and intimidation against Japan, against the Philippines, against other Pacific Islands like Guam. As Asia’s new reigning power, China could then restrict us trade in the region, maybe block it all together. Maybe they’d allow us in, but only on terms favorable to China. China’s exploited the global trade system before we’ve seen that. Now, imagine if they could do it again. Imagine if they could do it at a new truly global scale.

We recently witnessed the Chinese spy balloon go right across the United States, right across my home state of Missouri by the way, over our military installations. Totally unimpeded. That was the fault of this administration. But imagine a world where Chinese warships could patrol, let’s say, Hawaii’s waters and Chinese submarines could stalk the California coastline. Imagine a world where the people’s liberation army has military bases in central and South America. Imagine a world where Chinese forces operate freely in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. That’s the future that we will be facing if we are not able to finally stop China. It is a dark future. It is an increasingly plausible future, but it is not yet an inevitable future. There is still time to chart a different course, but we have to act and we have to act. Now that different course I humbly submit to you is a truly nationalist foreign policy, a foreign policy in the spirit of Alexander Hamilton and Theodore Roosevelt.

What would that look like? Well, a nationalist foreign policy would put America’s interest first and deterring China from seizing Taiwan should be America’s top foreign policy priority. That means our defense spending should be concentrated on deterrence in the Pacific. We should stockpile weapons, disperse our forces in the Indo-Pacific and accelerate late stage development of space, cyber and other critical capabilities like the B21 bomber. None of that’s news, but we are years behind schedule and it’s time to get caught up. Strengthening deterrence in the Indo-Pacific means scaling back our military commitments elsewhere. And that brings me back to Europe. What we need is a new burden sharing arrangement with NATO. Listen, it’s time to tell our NATO allies the hard truth, which is they must take first obligation, first responsibility in the defense of Ukraine in encountering Russia. We should say that to them directly.

We should stop trying to send signals. We should stop saying on the one hand on the other hand and say to them bluntly, they must take responsibility for the defense of Europe themself relying on us for our nuclear deterrent and for a few other key capabilities. What would that do? It would free up American resources for deterring China and this should be the basis of our partnership with our European allies. Listen, I’m for partnerships. I’m for the alliance. The basis of our burden sharing in the 21st century though has to look like this. The Europeans take the lead in Europe and we will take the lead against China. That will be more than enough for both of us, I assure you. But the current policy of the United States pretending it can do everything for the Europeans in Europe and do everything for the rest of the world in Asia is simply fanciful and it cannot be sustained.

We’ll have to tell our NATO allies the truth that unless they deter Russia and confront Russia themselves, if there is a conflict in the Pacific, we will have to move our forces from Europe to the Pacific. We need to be honest with them that strategically the Pacific is the key theater for the United States of America. Europe is important to us, but it is not the key but the Pacific is and it’s time we told our NATO allies that bluntly. So what concrete steps can we take towards that new burden sharing arrangement? Well, number one, we can stop writing blank checks to Ukraine and demand that our European allies step up. Listen, we have to make a choice. Ukraine, China, we cannot do both at the same time. We should be honest about that. First, with the American people, then to our allies and the world. And so we should say to our European allies, you take first lead, you take first responsibility for the defense of Ukraine and the confrontation with Russia.

And we will take the lead in Asia and we should clarify what the stakes are for them. They should know that we will not be able to fully defend them if a conflict with China breaks out. What else should we do? We should reduce our force levels in Europe. My colleagues hate it when I say this, but it’s just the truth. We should not be increasing our force levels in Europe. We should be reducing our force levels in Europe and we should keep cutting until we are supporting NATO’s defenses with only those capabilities that we don’t need to deter China. And of course, with our nuclear arsenal and we should ask our European allies to make up the difference. This is what a real burden sharing arrangement would look like. This is how we safeguard our interests in Europe while critically deterring China in Asia.

Finally, the United States should arm Taiwan. Now listen, I want to be really clear on this. I’m not in favor of blank checks to anybody, so I’m not here to tell you that I don’t favor blank checks to Ukraine, but I do favor them to Taiwan. No, quite the contrary. My view is we have got to help the Taiwans defend themselves. We should be arming and supporting the Taiwans, but on the condition that they spend in their own defense, that they embrace an asymmetric defense strategy, that they go all in on the defense of their island and prepare to defend it from any potential Chinese invasion. The uniparty is not going to like this message, in fact, they hate it. They’ll probably call it who knows what, Russian propaganda or something like that. But I have to tell you, when I first came to the Senate, I promised the people of my state that I would tell them the truth.

And this is the truth. These are the choices that we face. And even when the truth is difficult and the choices are tough, we have to stand in front of the American people and explain what the stakes are and why we should take the choices that we do. That’s what is at the heart of a nationalist foreign policy by the way, it is clear-eyed realism in service of the American people. Changing course won’t be easy, don’t get me wrong. It will take sacrifices. It will require difficult choices. But that is what we’re here to do and that is what this hour demands. We’ve got to start looking reality in the eye. We’ve got to start making the difficult choices that will allow us to meet the challenges of our day. We’ve got to choose the truth over the fairytale. We’ve got to choose the truth over comfort.

If we do, there is still time. This country is the strongest country on the face of the earth. We’re the best country in the history of the world. We can prevail. I have every confidence that in this conflict with China, for the future of the world, we will prevail and above all, for our own way of life, we will prevail. But we must make the choices now to make sure that that possibility becomes reality. Thank you so much for having me.

Roberts: Well, Senator Hawley, not that this is a surprise, but that was a tour of force and there are a lot of things I want to ask you about, but you’ve come over between votes and so we probably have time for just a few questions, but thanks again.

Senator Josh Hawley:

Thank you.

Roberts: I’m particularly grateful I’d speak on behalf of all of us at Heritage, that several hundred thousand everyday Americans who support our work financially every year, even some who supported very strictly defined military aid for Ukraine. What they tell me even in trips that I took to Florida and Texas this week is that they feel hoodwinked and they feel hoodwinked by the uniparty. So a statement before the question, the Heritage Foundation will stand with you and any member of the Senate who wants to fight the uniparty. Thank you.

Senator Josh Hawley:

Absolutely. I’ll talk to that.

Roberts: And the reason for that is as you identify, the first question we need to ask in foreign policy is what’s in the best interest of the Americans? And typically when we’re at our best or most virtuous, we’ve made mistakes as a people that affects in a good way, people around the world. Leads to this question. What’s the root cause of this misguided thinking in DC given all of the data that you pointed out, the other data that’s out there. That is to say it’s so apparent that the much greater threat to the American people is China. There are smart people in DC, even some who might disagree with you and me and Heritage, how do we fix that? That’s the urgency that I’m hearing from people in America. How do we actually break that stranglehold, that misguided thinking has on policy in this town.

Senator Josh Hawley:

I think that part of it is that with the fall of the Cold War, with the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, we really had a Wilsonian moment in American foreign policy that has now extended into Wilsonian decades. And Woodrow Wilson, as you may remember, was a dedicated internationalist. He was a dedicated globalist on principle, by the way. I mean, he thought that, “We should make the world safe for democracy.” That was his line that he famously used. And I think what you saw is after the Cold War, you had a whole generation of American policy makers who said the Wilsonian moment has now arrived. Borders don’t matter. American uniqueness doesn’t matter. We’re going to make all of the world more like America and we’re going to make America more like the world and there’ll be this great global integration.

The first President Bush promoted something like this. He talked about open trade, open borders, open minds. I just think it turned out to be a spectacularly bad idea. And I think that for a whole generation of policy makers, they’ve not been able to free themselves from the grip of this Wilsonianism. And they haven’t been able to understand that pursuing it actually undermines American exceptionalism and actually undermines American strength. Here’s the last thing I’d say on that, Kevin. I do think there’s a class element to this. Listen, this is something else that we ought to be frank about, and nobody in this town likes to talk about it, but the current economic order in the current foreign policy order favors a particular class of people. It favors people who have four year college degrees or advanced degrees. It favors people who have the credentials to prosper in the hyper globalist economy that we have.

That’s who it favors. Who does it not favor? The people who fight our wars, working class people. Who does it not favor? Blue collar workers. Who does it not favor? People who actually don’t have much of a voice in Washington. So I think one of the reason that the uniparty is so fixated on this and can’t disentangle themselves from these notions is they don’t actually feel some of the pain that other American, most Americans are bearing because they belong to a pretty narrow class of folks and they’re more and more divorced from the whole rest of America. And that’s a huge, huge problem that infects all of our politics.

Roberts: It does. And I want to ask you a directly related follow up question about how that dynamic affects what seems to be a rethinking on the political right about foreign policy. You are one of the leaders of that rethinking, and that is if you go to 2024, 2030, I don’t want to make this about presidential politics necessarily, but about the movement a at large, which is more important than any election, I think even you would agree with that. And this is it, the project of American conservatism now to embrace the hard reality of what you just described and articulate in a positive way, one where America’s still rather strong, but perhaps more restrained. Is that the object that some conservatives are talking about when they are calling for a working class conservatism?

Hawley: Well, it’s certainly what I mean when I talk about working class conservatism. And I think it’s what we should all mean. And listen, there’s a history for this in our party, for those of us who are conservatives and republicans there, there’s a history of this. It does not mean isolationism. Listen, I want to be clear about this. I’m not an isolationist. I come from a state that our number one industry is agriculture. We want to trade, but we want to trade on fair terms that are good for us. We want to see our own industry thrive. We want to see manufacturing jobs come back to this country and the jobs of the future take root in this country. In our party, there is a number of historical parallels for this going all the way back to Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley, the turn of the last century. Listen, we were a nationalist party that was nationalist economically and nationalist on foreign policy. We were not isolationist. Roosevelt was many things. In fact, he had an imperialist episode that I don’t recommend to you skip over that he got over it-

Roberts: But it’s quite an episode.

Hawley: It was long. It was long. But listen, we were a nationalist foreign policy party. So there’s a tradition of that in our movement, in our party that we can recover and we should. And what that means is that we look at the world and we ask what is going to make America safe? What is going to make America prosperous? What’s going to protect the American people and all of the American people, not just the people who do well in the globalist economy, but all of the American people. And I think you said it right, when we do that, when we protect the American dream, when we allow the American project to flourish, that’s really part of our gift to the world. So do I think America has a role to play in the world? Yeah, you bet I do. You bet I do. But that begins with being strong here at home and protecting our folks.

Roberts: Well, I appreciate the response because in my short time here in DC I’ve learned that among many criticisms someone might have of the imperial city, the one that I would offer is that it’s the city of false dichotomies. So for those of us who are Reaganites, believe in peace through strength support, very narrow, strict military aid to Ukraine, never imagined that it would go above a hundred billion. But I guess not surprised we were billed. Heritage was billed. You were billed. Many of your colleagues build as if to say that merely wanting accountability for the Americans dollar, recognizing there are grave threats to our self-governance, namely China, that somehow were isolationist. And so I’m curious, you’ve got some new members in the Senate. We’ve got some new great house members as well. It’s a question about optimism. Maybe I’m desperate for it. Give us a view into your crystal ball in terms of DC politics. Do you see having more in your ranks when it comes to this common sense foreign policy?

Hawley: I do, and I think that’s partly because it was Lincoln, I think, who said that in our democracy, what the American people want, if they want it long enough, they get it. And that as it should be. I mean, that’s what it means to be a democratic republic. So right now, what the American people, I think have been trying to say probably for decades is that they reject the uniparty consensus. Listen, there’s a reason why. Let’s be honest. There’s a reason why Donald Trump became the nominee of the Republican party in 2016. There’s a reason why Bernie Sanders almost became the nominee of the other party in 2016, and probably would have with without those super delegates or what, however they cheated him. Anyway, just kidding. I don’t know.

Roberts: So there’s something funny about super delegates.

Hawley: No there are. No, no, exactly. Just ask Bernie. But listen, there’s a reason for that. My point is that voters in both parties from different political persuasions, but nonetheless, were trying to send their party establishments, I think a message they do not like the political consensus and know more so than in foreign policy over the last few decades. Why? Because it hasn’t worked for them. It has not worked for them. If you don’t believe that, come to my state. And you can find in Missouri towns, small towns like the one I grew up in that used to have local industry that used to have good paying manufacturing jobs that are gone now. And you can tell them all you want that all everybody gains from trade that it’s, oh, of course it’s a net positive. This is what I was taught in college, right?

All trade is good, all trade is good. Doesn’t matter if the terms are unfavorable. So yes, admit China to the WTO, absolutely, give them permanent most favored nation status. That’s great. We’ll benefit from it. The question though is who will benefit from it? We say we, but who particularly and what we’ve found is for most of the American people, it isn’t them. It’s some, it’s not most. And we’ve got to be honest about that. And as conservatives we are in favor of conserving what? Families, neighborhoods, churches, these murky and small platoons, little platoons that make our society what it is. And we need to see that our economic policy, our foreign policy, and our domestic cultural policy are all intertwined in this way.

Roberts: I can see now why you were such a treasured Heritage intern.

Hawley: Oh, I don’t know about that.

Roberts: I’m looking at some interns in the audience. No, I think so. Last question, of course, we could, I’d sit here with you for a few hours, but you’ve got to go attend to important votes and we usually get to audience questions. So this one’s kind of crowdsourced because of schedule, which everyone understands. We’re grateful for your time. And it is, we always try at Heritage, not just to diagnose the problem and come up with solutions, but give our audience members whether they’re in person or online or viewing C-SPAN watching this a few weeks from now, an action item. What can the everyday American do to further the great goals that you outline?

Hawley: Well, I mean, I think that what you can do is you can tell in the most immediate sense, you can tell your member of Congress that listen, I mean, it’s time to change course. And this is why I didn’t directly answer your question about the future of and having additional cohorts.

Roberts: I was letting you off the hook.

Hawley: Yeah, thank you. Well, I’ll come back. It’s a typical policy, I answer my own question, you can ask any questions-

Roberts: You’re a member of the Senate, sir. I knew that coming into this.

Hawley: Yeah, But I think that because voters want a change, you’re seeing more members of Congress get elected who favor that change. I think the thing to do is to make it just abundantly clear that we’ve got to change course. And we can start with the Ukraine aid. Listen, I voted for aid to Ukraine, early on. I was in favor of targeted. I had no idea that we were going to fight an endless proxy war and do nation building there because that’s not what we said we’re going to do in the beginning. But lo and behold, here we are now. So I think we should make abundantly clear. The current policy has to stop. We can’t just keep going on like we’re going on and we need to get back to the basics. As a party, we need to get back to our history. We need to be nationalists and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Roberts: Senator Josh Hawley, thanks so much.

Hawley: Thank you for having me. Thank you.

Heritage Explains is brought to you by more than half a million members of The Heritage Foundation. It's written and produced by Mark GuineyLauren Evans, and John Popp. Production assistance by Alexa Walker and Jeff Smith