As Ukraine remains in a life-and-death struggle for its existence, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor last week to temporarily block U.S. aid to this embattled nation.
The bill up for passage would provide immediate military and humanitarian assistance – some $40 billion to Ukraine.
The timing is critical as numerous cities remain under Russian siege, and as Ukraine is finally gaining momentum in repulsing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s savage invasion.
Paul is indifferent to the emergency situation and makes the fantastical claim that the aid package would “doom the U.S. economy.”
It would do nothing of the sort.
The Senate bill is a mirror of a House bill that passed with a strong bipartisan majority.
There is also strong bipartisan support in the Senate.
Paul knows he is using Senate privilege to effectively delay the passage of the bill and prevent the immediate assistance to the heroic Ukrainians defending their homeland.
They are also defending our freedoms.
Paul’s decision to take this callous action reminds us of Republican isolationist senators who, in the 1930s and ’40s, thundered against aid to Britain as Nazi armies conquered most of Europe and prepared to invade England.
These senators said the conflict in Europe was not “our fight” and objected to sending millions in aid to Britain.
“Why do we want to spend our resources helping a nation three thousand miles away?” they asked, “when we have an economic depression here at home?”
No surprise the isolationists won popular support for their ostrich position.
Then came the rude awakening of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
America realized two oceans were not sufficient insulation from world conflict anymore.
Rand Paul and a small band of Republican congressmen are using the same arguments and the same phony construct to oppose aid to Ukraine.
It is a message that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has been pushing for weeks: Why are we spending money on Ukraine when we need money for cancer research, roads and bridges, border security — and as we struggle to keep gas prices down and fight inflation.
Carlson has long been a Kremlin apologist. And Fox News has been abetting his position with little or no coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine during its prime-time hours.
Fox’s audience is becoming increasingly blind to the reality of this war, opening the door for Rand Paul and others.
Thankfully most Americans see the real danger Vladimir Putin poses to all of us.
We have seen with our very own eyes the massacres on the streets of Bucha and across occupied Ukraine of innocent men, women and children. Mass graves. Forced deportations. Indiscriminate bombings. Concentration camps.
Putin could not capture Mariupol so he decided to level the city, killing perhaps tens of thousands. We have not witnessed atrocities like this since Stalin and Hitler paraded their armies across Europe.
The Ukrainians are not asking, as Paul claims, that America be the “world policemen.”
They are asking only that we provide the tools – weapons, ammunition, and essentials like food – to support their sacrifice.
Paul would do well to read Putin’s several speeches since he started this war. In each he makes clear Russia is at war with the West and the United States.
Even dovish Europe sees the threat. And Sweden and Finland, which have long bragged about their neutrality and had no interest in joining NATO, suddenly have done an about-face.
Today, Helsinki authorities are prepping their bomb shelters and bunkers for war, perhaps a nuclear one. They are leaving nothing to chance.
But as in the 1930s, America seems very far from the fighting, and quite safe. We need to focus on the deficit, Rand Paul argued in his recent Senate speech.
He even claimed in the same speech that we need to learn the lesson of the Soviet Union, which he says collapsed for economic reasons, not from a military defeat.
But so much of what he says about Ukraine makes little sense; Paul should re-read his history books.
The Soviet Union collapsed because President Reagan, ignoring worries about the federal deficit, began a massive military build-up.
He also funded advanced weaponry like Stinger missiles for Afghan rebels, as he embarked on a costly missile defense program. America simply outspent the Soviets.
And Reagan’s massive spending – which Paul would have abhorred – paved the way for the “peace dividend,” decades of prosperity and the first balanced budgets in decades.
America is now faced with an enemy openly talking about using weapons of mass destruction against NATO.
The lesson of history could not be clearer: If we don’t fight those who would invade their neighbors, we will be stuck fighting them on our own shores.
From the beginning isolationists like Rand Paul and Tucker Carlson said our early support of Ukraine would be a slippery slope to direct U.S. involvement against Russia.
But they have already been proven wrong on their predictions.
Early U.S. and European support to Ukraine has paid off, and Russia is either stalled or in retreat.
The truth is, $40 billion is a small amount to stop a much larger and more costly war.
Rand Paul can worry about the deficit, but he should not delay assistance to these heroic Ukrainians during this most critical period for all of us.
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