Oh. My. Word.
The GOP is having some serious issues getting its act together and moving forward with the agenda they were elected to pursue. Thus far most of the problems have come because of their hackneyed efforts to “fix” Obamacare without actually repealing it. However, there could be more trouble afoot for the GOP if spat between Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) doesn’t get resolved soon.
On Wednesday, Senator McCain took to the Senate floor to blast Senator Paul for not immediately agreeing to endorse Montenegro’s induction into NATO.
“You are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin… trying to dismember this small country which has already been the subject an attempted coup… If they object, they are now carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin and I do not say that lightly.”
McCain then asked his colleagues for unanimous consent to welcome Montenegro to NATO. At this point Senator Paul stood, objected (thereby withholding unanimous consent) and then walked out of the Senate chamber. This infuriated McCain and sent him spiraling into a rant against Paul arguing that he now WORKED for Putin!
“I note the senator from Kentucky leaving the floor without justification or any rationale for the action he has just taken. That is really remarkable, that a senator blocking a treaty that is supported by the overwhelming number—perhaps 98, at least, of his colleagues—would come to the floor and object and walk away. The only conclusion you can draw when he walks away is he has no justification for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians. So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”
Here’s the thing, McCain is wrong, Senator Paul has a pretty good reason to object and ask for an actual debate on this issue.
Montenegro is a tiny country that won’t actually be able to contribute anything of real value to the NATO alliance, the move to add them is more about Russia than it is Montenegro. Russia has been intimidating the tiny Balkan nation recently and it’s completely feasible that they could invade and annex the country much like they did Ukraine a couple of years ago. So while McCain sees this as a reason to allow Montenegro to join NATO, Paul argues just the opposite… Is Montenegro really worth going to WAR with Russia over?
Senator Paul laid out his argument on MSNBC this morning while speaking with Willie Geist from Morning Joe, and explained that this conversation is about a lot more than just Montenegro.
Willie Geist: So, Senator, a little context around that. The vote was around putting Montenegro into NATO. What’s your reaction to Senator McCain’s characterization of your objection?
Rand Paul: You know, I think he makes a really, really strong case for term limits. I think maybe he’s past his prime; I think maybe he’s gotten a little bit unhinged.
I do think that when we talk about NATO, there can be a rational discussion about the pros and cons of expanding it. We currently have troops, combat troops, in about six nations. We have troops actively just stationed in probably a couple dozen others. We have a $20 trillion debt. And one of my favorite articles of the last couple years is one that talked about the angry McCains, and if they — if we put active troops and got involved in combat where McCain wants us to be, they put a little angry McCain on the globe, on the map. And it’s virtually everywhere. So his foreign policy is something that would greatly endanger the United States, greatly overextend us. And there has to be the thought whether or not it’s in our national interest to pledge to get involved with a war if Montenegro has an altercation with anyone.
There’s also another argument, is that when you ask the people of Montenegro, only about 40 percent or slightly less are actually in favor of this. They are close to Russia, they’re close to being sort of, like Ukraine, in the transition from Europe to Asia. Perhaps it would be good to be like Switzerland and be more neutral and trade with both.
So, there’s a lot of considerations but to call someone somehow an enemy of the state or a traitor might be considered by most reasonable people to be a little over the top.
Willie Geist: But Senator, you just called John McCain unhinged. You said he was past his prime. Why do you think so many other senators have voted in favor of this measure if it’s so crazy?
Rand Paul: I think that there is a bipartisan consensus that’s incorrect that we should have the whole world be in NATO. For example, if we had Ukraine and Georgia in NATO — and this is something McCain and the other neocons have advocated for — we would be at war now because Russia has invaded both of them.
And so I think having former satellites or former parts of the Soviet Union is NATO is very provocative. And you have to decide in advance whether you’re ready go to war. If you guys are ready to send a million troops into Ukraine and fight World War III, you’re going to do it without my support because I think that’s a really foolish notion.
Willie Geist: Do you think, Senator, places like Albania and Croatia then should have been allowed into NATO in 2009?
Rand Paul: I think it’s a real debate how big NATO should be and whether or not it’s more provocative than good. And there’s also the debate that the president brought up throughout the campaign, and that is we seem to be paying for all of it. Whenever there’s a war fought, our soldiers fight it and our dollars pay for it. And so the 45 soldiers that Montenegro has I think are hardly an asset to our national security. And, really, our decisions need to be about our national security. And so I just don’t think it enhances our national security to have Montenegro part of NATO.
I personally happen to think that Senator Paul is right on this one (in more ways than one). Adding Montenegro to NATO is not of benefit to the United States or our defense, indeed it could become a detriment to national security. I also think that Senator McCain should not have run for reelection in 2016. That being said both Senators McCain and Paul need to bury this hatchet before it becomes a major distraction to the work that should be at hand. The GOP, and our nation, have too much at stake right now for the two men to be bickering about Montenegro.