Large Group of People Holding Banner on Supporting Ukraine

One has to won­der what real­ly dri­ves Senator Rand Paul.

He picks fights with health offi­cials (Dr. Anthony Fauci) over issues on which he has far less exper­tise. He gets called out in pub­lic for bla­tant­ly lying about his oppo­nent and then uses his pow­er in the Senate to try to draft leg­is­la­tion that would make the posi­tion of that health offi­cial irrel­e­vant. As a health offi­cial him­self, he rou­tine­ly dis­missed the most effec­tive means of coun­ter­ing the COVID-19 epidemic.

But it’s when he ven­tures into non-health fields that his inex­cus­able igno­rance shows itself more overtly.

On May 19th the U.S. Senate vot­ed 86–11 to approve an addi­tion­al $40 bil­lion in aid to Ukraine to help in fight­ing off Russia’s inva­sion of that neigh­bor­ing coun­try.  All eleven “no” votes were cast by Republicans but obvi­ous­ly, a major­i­ty of Republicans vot­ed in favor of the bill, appar­ent­ly under­stand­ing a basic truth that elud­ed Senator Paul and the oth­ers who vot­ed as he did.

…per­haps the Senator would rather just see “American boys” sent off to fight a European war and wor­ry about pay­ing for it later.

What is also quite appar­ent in Senator Paul’s vote is that he is no stu­dent of his­to­ry or, if he is, he has for­got­ten lessons he may have once learned.

The aid that the United States is send­ing to Ukraine is pre­ced­ed by a very impor­tant sim­i­lar exten­sion of aid, a prece­dent of which Senator Paul has no knowl­edge — or has forgotten.

In 1940 Great Britain was on the verge of falling under the assault from Germany, whose mil­i­tary had already con­sumed most of west­ern Europe.

Under urgent pleas from England and amid great ret­i­cence in this coun­try — includ­ing President Roosevelt him­self for a time — some tac­tic had to be found to keep an unpre­pared America out of a land war in Europe.  As late as 1939 the U.S. Army had less than 200,000 active mem­bers and its muni­tions and matériel were in no way ready for hostilities.

Prime Minister Churchill wrote many mis­sives over sev­er­al months ask­ing for aid, in the form of old ships, planes, and rifles — while iso­la­tion­ist forces blovi­at­ed about send­ing “American boys” to fight in a European war.  The sit­u­a­tion then is so very sim­i­lar to what is now hap­pen­ing in Ukraine that the par­al­lel is unmistakable. 

In 1940 President Roosevelt stat­ed, “…there is far less chance of the United States get­ting into war if we do all we can now to sup­port the nations defend­ing them­selves against attack by the Axis than if we acqui­esce in their defeat.”

The sit­u­a­tion is exact­ly the same now as we sup­port Ukraine with mod­ern arma­ments to fight against a well-armed (but for­tu­nate­ly poor­ly-led) Russian inva­sion force.  We and oth­er European nations all see the neces­si­ty of con­tain­ing this cur­rent con­fronta­tion in order to avoid a wider con­flict.  And per­haps all the nations act­ing on behalf of Ukraine can see the par­al­lel between what hap­pened in the late 1930s and ear­ly 1940s and the urgency of con­tain­ing Russia’s expan­sion­ism in its ear­ly stages. 

Senator Paul, in his over­rid­ing con­cern for bal­anc­ing the bud­get, can­not under­stand that in times of cri­sis like this, bud­getary restraints go out the win­dow, just as they did in World War II.  Budgets can be brought into bal­ance, but not by nations that no longer have the capac­i­ty to do so in times of peace — if wars expand to encom­pass everyone.

Or per­haps the Senator would rather just see “American boys” sent off to fight a European war and wor­ry about pay­ing for it later.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.