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Vivek Ramaswamy, one of Republican presidential candidates, suggests in his article that China is American main rival and that it is wise to get Russia's neutrality in exchange for compromising on Ukraine.

A good deal requires all parties to get something out of it. To that end, I will accept Russian control of the occupied territories and pledge to block Ukraine’s candidacy for NATO in exchange for Russia exiting its military alliance with China. I will end sanctions and bring Russia back into the world market. In this way, I will elevate Russia as a strategic check on China’s designs in East Asia.

How is this idea viewed by American voters?

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    Question assumes that more than a small fraction of Americans know who Ramaswamy is, let alone his policy proposals. Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 15:36
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    In a recent poll, fully 61% of voters can't even say if they like Ramaswamy or not, I expect rather few people have formed an opinion on any of his platform specifics. poll.qu.edu/poll-release?releaseid=3877 Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 15:43

4 Answers 4

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How popular is Vivek Ramaswamy's idea with the American voters to compromise with Russia on Ukraine, in exchange for Russia dropping its alliance with China?

Short Answer

Foreign policy is typically not the largest influence on the American electorate. Most Americans vote their pocketbook traditionally. This means lower taxes, lower spending, or government programs which personally benefit themselves. In 2024, a second motivation might be women reproductive healthcare rights based on the 2022 interim elections and 2023 ballot initiative results. So Russia and China issues likely aren't going to weigh heavily on the Presidential vote in 2024.

Also I would say Vivek Ramaswamy's "compromise" is a two part question.

  1. What is the popularity of defunding Ukraine?
  2. What's the popularity of using that in a barter with Russia.

For this we will judge the popularity based on the support for Presidential candidates within the Republican Party, who have professed these positions and then translate that as a percentage of the American electorate. Given the first paragraph, these issues are not the primary appeal of those candidates.

Cutting aid to Ukraine?

Perhaps 50%-75%+ popular inside the Republican Party. That's surprisingly popular for a party which traditionally prides itself on foreign policy chops and peace through strength philosophy. That translates to perhaps less than 20% of the voting electorate.

I would also add, when I walk out my front door in the morning, now more than 500 days after the start of the war, in my neighborhood many houses fly the Ukrainian Flag. Support is very strong for Ukraine in the United States. It's shocking some percent of Republicans oppose support for Ukraine given the history of the Party.

Exchanging the aid cuts to get Russian neutrality?

2% maybe. I don't think most Americans think such a pledge coming from Russia would be meaningful. Cutting aid to Ukraine is outwardly driven by a resurgence of isolationism as well as a money saving appeal. I think Ramaswamy alone is proposing this barter, and his over arching "strategy" of aligning US foreign policy with India runs a little counter to that isolationism trend. Like many Ramaswamy initiatives, bold, impressive as a sound bite, but not really very well thought out.

More Detailed Answer

For dropping aid to Ukraine, Vivek Ramaswamy and Donald Trump both support this policy. We should throw in Ron Desantis too, as he came out with such a policy before rescinding his words when faced with strong pushback from his Republican supporters. Together these candidates are the top 3 in the polls currently for the Republican nomination.

Who’s ahead in the national polls?

They enjoy 9%, 49.5%, 15% support respectively as I am writing this answer. This is among Republican Voters. On December 17, 2020, Gallup polling found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats, 25% identified as Republicans, and 41% as Independent. So that Joint support from all three front runner Republican candidates amounts to 74% of Republicans. This 74% x 25% equates to 18.5% of American voters. That's generous, because Ron Desantis did rescind his. None of these candidates enjoys any significant support among Democrats or Independents and many Republicans support aid to Ukraine. This includes the majority of Republican Senators lead by Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader who is probable the senior Republican leader in office presently.

As for dropping aid to Ukraine in exchange for President Putin's pinky promise to distance himself from China. I think that's just Vivek Ramaswamy. So maybe a percentage of his 2% of the American electorate. Ramaswamy suggests the U.S. foreign policy should be brought more in line with India's interests. Here I don't think Donald Trump nor Ron Desantis nor anybody else would agree. Most don't feel the Chinese situation needs to get openly hostile. India feels much more threatened because of recent hostilities and their history and proximity; but India attended the recent BRICS conference and still trades with China. Americans support close ties with India, even security ties. Their position on China is hostilities are not inevitable and we should engage with them economically where we can. In the press, on the news nobody is speaking of walking away from Allie’s except some Republicans most people I know believe Russia when they've said Poland and the Baltics are next after Ukraine. Poland and the Baltics are NATO, which means we're all in. The surest way to avoid a world war is not to rely on President Putin's tender heart, but to ensure Ukraine has everything they need to defend themselves. America's percentage of that aid so far is about $78 billion all in since the Russian Invasion, or 8% of an annual U.S peace time defense budget, or .33% of GDP; which isn't that much when you think of what's at stake. During the Cold war the U.S. kept a million men in Europe to protect from the Soviet Union for 50 years. Clearly the U.S. is more secure when we act in unison with our allies.

How Much Aid Has the U.S. Sent Ukraine?

Note that No Republican Presidential Candidate has won the popular vote for Presidency in the last 19 years. George W. Bush in 2004 was the last Republican to do so. Taking into effect current events inside the United States, ( 2022 midterm elections, 2023 ballot initiatives, and current polls) 2024 election is unlikely to change that trend. I offer this fact to demonstrate that while the Republican Party enjoys ardent support from it's constituency, the above demonstrates their policies are out of step with the majority of Americans and have been consistently for 20 years.

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  • There is some token support for Russia among the far left, and assuming Independents are almost all against it seems unfounded, but otherwise a great anser
    – bharring
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 18:12
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    @bharring, good point. They exist, I didn't mention them because they are unlikely to vote based on that issue and the Democratic leader who will most likely receive their votes isn't changing his position on support for Ukraine. In general as you say token support for defunding Ukraine on the left, with the two most vocal liberal leaders in the senate and house, Bernie and AOC supporting Ukrainian aid.
    – user47010
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 18:25
  • The last paragraph seems to me to be somewhat unrelated to the OP's question
    – SJuan76
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 14:08
  • @SJuan76, tried to better explain why I thought it was related to the overall popularity of Republican policies over the last 20 years.
    – user47010
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 15:26
  • The numbers in this answer do not seem to be very well founded in empirical research (polls, ...). There might be a large bias or uncertainty possible. Not that I don't see the reasoning but I think it's better to say that it's rather unknown. Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 16:21
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While the article referenced in the question is full of colorful phrases, such as "greatest butcher of the 20th century", "useful idiots" and "we should get Putin to dump Xi", there is not much of the "alliance" between Russia and China and it is far from obvious (and not explained) how exactly V.Putin would be "dumping Xi".

There is some trading ongoing but much less than between China and USA. There is no military mutual defense agreement that would be comparable to NATO. All technology transfer that made sense (space technologies, etc) is already likely over.

There is no even very obvious support from China to the Russian side in Ukraine war: no open weapons delivery, for instance, no clear and open recognition of the annexed territories or even Crimea as part of Russia, and all political statements are much more aligned to be neutral, maybe with some drift towards the Russia's side but mostly neutral.

In such a context, the idea looks so poorly defined that its popularity is likely impossible to evaluate as the meaning is not clear.

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If Trump endorses this idea, who knows? He definitely has a lot more fans who approve of anything Trump says. (I mean, I'm not sure how much Trump actually believes this can happen, but he says that he can get back a US base in Afghanistan, to use against China.) And IIRC Ramaswamy's campaign was all based on the sole selling point that he is 100% like Trump, but younger. So, we might be led to believe Trump had the exact same ideas, but who knows how much of that is actually true.

Insofar though, the US public generally doesn't see Russia as a potential ally/partner (3%), at best as just a competitor (30%) or enemy (64%), although I'll grant you that was a poll from last year, March 2023. (I've not found a more recent one to include a Q about Russia on that perception angle, unlike just about the war.):

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Besides, the premise of the 'offer' is rather unrealistic. Russia does not have a formal alliance with China. What they have in terms of military cooperation (some joint naval patrols) is largely directed against Japan, a country that has unresolved territorial disputes with both China and Russia. For Russia to forgo this joint venture with China, it would take a change in Russia-Japan relations. Maybe the US could pressure Japan in that regard, as Trump promises to e.g. pressure Ukraine (to end the war), but it's a more complicated in the case of Japan, as the US needs those bases in Japan to defend Taiwan too. So the US can't be too arrogant with Japan, or else their whole anti-China strategy risks unravelling.

I've not heard/seen Ramaswamy's idea getting some serious general discussion, like being the subject of some poll. It does look to me like just a soundbite for TV, that was soon forgotten. If anything, many Republicans (with the possible exception of Marjorie Taylor Greene) who want to end the war in Ukraine (like Trump) say that they don't care about its outcome, rather than hope to make friends with Russia or harbor some hope of managing to turn it against China. Although undoubtedly the war ending will probably create a US-Russia détente, at least.

As for Russia somehow doing something like imposing sanctions on China, that's a pipe dream given the mutually beneficial economic trade/interdependence: energy for consumer goods etc.

There are some rumours that Russia was willing to 'trade' Venezuela for Ukraine though, during Trump's presidency. But if that was somehow a serious offer, Trump's administration apparently turned it down. Anyhow, no indication thus far that Russia is willing to change their relations with China in exchange (for Ukraine).

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If we have to talk about popularity, this view is quite popular. Because with the outbreak of new conflicts in the Middle East and frequent internal problems in Ukraine, Zelensky has lost his sacred appearance. Ukraine is losing its battlefield advantage, which also makes taxpayers lose interest in continuing to fund Ukraine.

But now, whether this view is popular or not is meaningless. Russia has gradually gained battlefield advantages, and Ukraine's defeat has been determined. Countries in northern Ukraine have rushed to join NATO, and the strategic buffer zone between Russia and NATO has been compressed to the point of non-existence. Based on this fact, it is no longer possible for Russia to choose to compromise with the West when it can control the fate of Ukraine. NATO's expansion to the point of bordering Russia shows that there is no room for relaxation on both sides. Being asked to remain "neutral" towards China, is this even possible?

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