Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy on Saturday suggested the U.S. should not provide more military aid to Israel until the government can outline what happens after invading Gaza.
“The U.S. should be clear with Israel that further U.S. support is contingent on Israel identifying clear objectives for success in Gaza and a coherent plan for what comes after toppling Hamas even if Israel is successful in doing so. As of now, these critical questions remain unanswered,” he said.
That message was part of a broader statement provided to POLITICO, where the entrepreneur restated his strong opposition to President Joe Biden’s $106 billion funding request to support Israel against Hamas and Ukraine against Russia.
Ramaswamy said the United States is too deep in debt to keep supplying those two countries with weapons, adding that America “wasted” trillions of dollars during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ramaswamy said that assisting Ukraine “increases the risk of major conflict with a nuclear power” and backing an Israeli ground invasion of Hamas would lead Hezbollah to enter the fray, “which would almost surely draw the U.S. into a prolonged all-out regional war in the Middle East.”
“I call on lawmakers in both parties to vote NO on this disastrous proposal,” the candidate said on Fox News Friday night.
The administration’s request includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine, including $44.4 billion to provide Department of Defense equipment for the country, to replenish weapons stocks and to continue providing other military support. The administration is also asking for $14.3 billion for Israel and $9.15 billion for the State Department to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Gaza, the enclave of 2.3 million people. There are also asks to boost military support for Taiwan and enhance security at the southern border.
Biden and his team have repeatedly said that Israel has a right to defend itself and go after Hamas. But U.S. officials are warning against an all-out assault, pushing Israeli forces to prioritize a reduction in civilian harm and more targeted operations against Hamas. It is still unclear what Israel will do after significantly degrading Hamas’ capabilities.
The statements by Ramaswamy, polling fourth nationally and in Iowa, are consistent with others he’s made. He often expresses skepticism of further entanglements by the United States in foreign conflicts, regardless of the country the U.S. is assisting. Ramaswamy has, however, promoted military strikes on Mexican drug cartels to curb the spread of fentanyl and warned other countries, namely China, that if they wade deeper into the Western Hemisphere, they will “have hell to pay.”
Ramaswamy has faced intense pushback from fellow Republican candidates on his foreign policy views, especially from former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. During the party’s first presidential debate of the cycle, she accused him of being a neophyte on global affairs. The two have also tussled over Israel policy, with Ramaswamy arguing the U.S. should find ways to wind down military aid to the U.S. ally.
On Thursday, Ramaswamy accused his competitors of being too afraid to recommend that Israel not invade Gaza, calling such a move so “disastrous” that it would “advance neither Israel’s interests nor ours.”
Both Ramaswamy and Haley are two of three candidates to qualify for the next GOP presidential debate. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will join them, while faraway frontrunner Donald Trump, the former president, is unlikely to appear.