TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida and a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has doubled down on a notion made weeks ago that he'd attack the Bahamas with extreme force in the event they ever attacked Florida.
DeSantis has floated this hypothetical on several occasions, as first reported by Florida Politics. The apparent meaning of the remarks are to establish how DeSantis views the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East. However, unlike those two entities, the United States and the Bahamas have enjoyed a peaceful diplomatic relationship since the latter established its independence in 1973.
"As Governor of Florida, if somebody from the Bahamas was firing rockets into Fort Lauderdale, we would not accept that," DeSantis said last month at a campaign event in New Hampshire. "We flatten it, like, in no time. We would never accept that happening to our people."
"The Bahamas and the United States enjoy an enduring and unique partnership," said the US Embassy in the Bahamas in a statement issued to The Nassau Guardian. "[Ambassador Usha] Pitts regrets if DeSantis' comments suggested anything other than a close alliance between our two democratic nations."
The United States Navy currently has a cruiser docked in Nassau, and the two nations have historically cooperated on issues such as national security. The remarks by DeSantis, one of the more internationally recognized American governors, mark one of the only times that relationship has been called into question.
Furthermore, in the unlikely scenario laid out by DeSantis, aggression against the Bahamas seen on an international stage as unwarranted would threaten to erode long-held relationships between global superpowers. The Bahamas are closely allied with the United Kingdom, opening for the possibility of British opposition to an American military strike.
The Bahamas are also a member of the Organization of American States, and a military conflict between themselves and the United States would prompt the first true test of the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, a 1936 gathering in Buenos Aires which established the conduct of countries in North and South American should a conflict ever occur.
Though the promise of DeSantis to respond severely in the event of a Bahamian attack is almost certainly entirely hypothetical, it has brought to the forefront of discussion the ramifications of a presidential candidate floating such ideas in the public sphere.
DeSantis is the only major Republican candidate with a military background, having served in the U.S. Navy from 2004 to 2010 actively, and then until 2019 in the reserves. Still, rival Nikki Haley has drawn on her tenure as Ambassador to the United Nations to oppose DeSantis on issues of foreign policy.