GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky deemed Russia, Iran, and China the new “axis of evil” Sunday amid wars in Israel and Ukraine while addressing U.S. funding of allies’ responses to the dual conflicts.
McConnell, the highest-ranking Senate Republican, agreed with fellow GOP member Rand Paul that the $1.5 trillion deficit is “entirely too big.” However, while Paul remarked last month that the U.S. under the Biden administration was heavily borrowing from China to send aid to Ukraine, McConnell emphasized that the deficit expanded during the previous administration under former President Donald Trump.
“You have to respond to conditions that actually exist that are a threat to the United States. The Iranians are a threat to us as well. And so, this is an emergency. It’s an emergency that we step up and deal with this axis of evil — China, Russia, Iran — because it’s an immediate threat to the United States,” said McConnell.
“In many ways, the world is more endangered today than it has been in my lifetime,” said McConnell, and recalled that unlike when the Berlin Wall fell, the world faces a “big power competition” that coincides with the terrorism threats in the Middle East and culminates in Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists.
“The question is, is America going to lead?” McConnell asked. “I think the Biden administration sent the wrong signal, and they had the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. I think that was like giving a green light to Putin to go into Ukraine. And we see that Iran, the principal sponsor of terrorism, sending drones to the Russians and attacking — Hezbollah, and, in this particular situation, Hamas — attacking the Israelis with drones. So, it’s all connected. You can’t separate out one part of it and say we’re only gonna deal with this. It’s all connected.”
“We know which side they’re on,” said McConnell regarding China’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war, adding, “We need to view this as a worldwide problem.”
Regarding the budget supplemental, McConnell said Senate Republicans will want something “credible on the border” and continued, “If we’re going to accept the financial responsibility of helping our allies, we certainly want to do something to help ourselves.”
Some Republicans contend conflicts aren’t connected
Although some Republicans contend the conflicts aren’t connected, McConnell disagrees. “I don’t view this as about whether to give Biden credit or not. This is a question of whether it’s a serious threat to the United States. If the Russians aren’t defeated, they’ll go into a NATO country next,” warned McConnell. “And the notion that somehow our Asian allies are unconcerned about Ukraine is completely wrong.”
“The prime minister of Japan said if you want to send President Xi a message, beat the Russians in Ukraine,” continued McConnell. “The South Koreans, the Japanese, the Taiwanese are all interested in what’s happening over in Ukraine because they know President Xi is watching that. President Xi recently declared that they had an endless friendship with the Russians. What more do you need to know about how relevant Ukraine is to Asia and to the Middle East?”
While Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Beijing to meet with President of China Xi Jinping last week, McConnell was asked what China might be making of an Axios report that artillery shells the United States designated for Ukraine are being diverted to Israel and that Taiwan has millions of dollars worth of artillery and equipment that the U.S. has been unable to fulfill.
“One of the best things about this, from a U.S. point of view, is when we give older equipment to the Ukrainians, for example, we are rebuilding our industrial base in this country. There are jobs being created by the help we’re providing Ukraine in 38 states and rebuilding our industrial complex for the more serious big power threat in Asia. So, the notion that our assistance for Ukraine is not helpful to us is something not factual,” said McConnell.