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FIGHT ON THE RIGHT: Tucker Carlson and John Bolton’s Showdown Over Foreign Policy in Eastern Europe

Former Trump national security advisor John Bolton is advocating for regime change in Belarus, while Fox News host Tucker Carlson is calling on the U.S. to support Russia over Ukraine.

SO WHAT

Foreign policy disagreements between populists and the establishment right are flaring up yet again amid renewed tensions in Eastern Europe.

WHAT HAPPENED

Concerns over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as an emerging migrant crisis on the Belarusian border, sparked contrasting takes from Carlson and Bolton on how the United States should conduct its foreign policy.

Bolton: Reacting to the migrant crisis, the former United Nations ambassador warned this week that Belarus, led by Putin surrogate Alexander Lukashenko, could be re-absorbed into Russia officially.

  • “This is entirely a cynical manipulation of these refugees,” Bolton said.
  • In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Bolton floated the notion of regime change by ousting Lukashenko.

Carlson: The Fox News host’s take on the prospect of sending American troops to protect Ukraine was decidedly more isolationist.

  • “Why would we take Ukraine’s side and not Russia’s?” Carlson asked Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, during a Wednesday “Tucker Carlson Tonight” segment.
  • “Sincere question,” Carlson said. “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? Why would we take Ukraine’s side?”
  • “I guess I’m for democracies in other countries,” Carlson added. “But I’m really for America.”

WHAT DO THE PEOPLE THINK?

The subject of how the American people believe foreign policy should be conducted is hotly debated, with polling suggesting the public favors a mixed-bag of isolationist and hawkish measures. A 2021 Chicago Council on Global Affairs survey found:

  • 58% of Americans say trade between the US and China does more to weaken US national security, a dramatic shift from 19 percent in 2019.
  • 68% of Americans say globalization is mostly good for the United States.
  • 64% of Americans say they want the United States to take a leading role in addressing many of the world’s most pressing challenges.

SAME ENERGY

It’s not the first time Bolton and Carlson have clashed: In 2018, the Fox News host used his influential platform to attempt to sabotage Bolton’s chances of becoming Trump’s national security advisor.

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