Search The Archives

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Senator Rand Paul Fights Like Hell To Keep The United States Out Of World War 3: Says "NO" To Montenegro Entering NATO


IN THE SENATE:  MARCH 27, 2017

SENATOR RAND PAUL (R-KY)

Mr. President, President Trump said in his inaugural address that we have defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own. I think he was right. Today, the question is, Will we add another commitment to defend yet another foreign country?




For decades, NATO has been an organization in which the United States disproportionately spends our blood and our treasure. The other NATO countries have largely hitched a ride on a U.S. train that subsidizes their defenses and allows them to direct their revenues to their own domestic concerns. In short, Uncle Sam is the Uncle Patsy for the rest of the world.

The question today is, Will adding to NATO another country with fewer than 2,000 soldiers be in our self-interest?  It has fewer than 2,000 soldiers and is a small country in a distant part of the world. Will they make you sleep safer at night? The answer is an emphatic no.

There is no national security interest that an alliance with Montenegro will advance. If we invite Montenegro into NATO, it will be a one-way street, with the United States committing to defending yet another country and with you, the taxpayer, being stuck with the bill.

Even the advocates of Montenegro’s joining NATO admit as much. The Senate hearing on admitting Montenegro to NATO was really just a punching session about Russia. Not one word was said about allowing Montenegro into NATO or how it would advance our own national security. We were going to send a message to Russia. Even the citizens of Montenegro are divided on this. About half of them want to be in NATO, and the other half does not want to be in NATO.

But it is not really about them; it is about us. Is admitting Montenegro to NATO good for us? Our national security is our national security. Is Montenegro going to defend the United States? Are they of any importance to our national security or, perhaps, will they entangle us in local, historic, regional conflicts in the area?

We must ask: Is Montenegro an asset to the defense of the United States? That is the question at hand.

The answer is a simple one. Admitting Montenegro to NATO will do nothing to advance our national security, and it will do everything to simply add another small country to NATO’s welfare wagon.

Advocates for expanding NATO believe that, unless the whole world joins NATO, Russia will conquer the world, but the truth is more nuanced. During the Cold War, the myth of Russian might was endlessly circulated here at home, and the effect was the production of endless munitions and ever-expanding debt. You are still paying the tab for that. The Cold War ended, and the Soviet Union failed, not because our military might overcame them but because our economic system outlasted them. They were defeated. Capitalism defeated socialism.

If there is one message that Americans should get, it is that capitalism is stronger than socialism. We should not flirt with political leaders in our country who promote what caused the Soviet Union to fail.

Now we are told we must fear Russia again—fear the Russian bear. Yet, if you look closely, you will see that Russian aggression around the world and particularly around the former Soviet satellites is an attempt to mask a weak economy that runs the same risk of overextension that caused the Soviet Empire to collapse. Russia is weak. Russia is weak because of corruption, oligarchy, and human rights abuses. If Russia continues on this path, it may well encounter the same cataclysm that brought down the Soviet Empire.

Without question, Russia is an adversary, a country that ignores international norms, does not respect the territorial integrity of its neighbors. Yet someone must ask: Is it in our national interest to insist that countries of the former Soviet Union be in NATO?

The debate today is not just about Montenegro. The same cheerleaders for Montenegro’s being in NATO want Ukraine in NATO and want Georgia in NATO. This is about NATO’s expansion in general, and this is a chance to have a real debate.

If both Ukraine and Georgia were in NATO today, we would be involved in a world war with Russia. Shouldn’t someone speak up? Shouldn’t we have some sort of national debate before we commit our sons and daughters to war in a faraway land?

One thing is for certain: Russia will always care more about those lands than we will. Does that make Russian aggression right? Absolutely not.

Our decision—the decision at hand— is: Are we willing to send our sons and daughters to fight in border disputes over Montenegro? Most Americans couldn’t find Montenegro on the map. Are you willing to send your kids there to fight?

That is what this is about, and this is sluffed over. They are going to forbid amendments. I forced this debate. Nobody wanted to have this debate. They want to rubberstamp it. They want no debates, and they want to send your kids to war with no debate. Today, they will pass this over my objections, but they will allow no amendments. When I finish this speech, I will ask for an amendment, and it will be denied because they do not want to debate whether your sons and daughters go to war. I find that appalling. I am ashamed of a Senate that will not have a debate and will not have a vote.

From the very beginning, our Republic was founded on a deep suspicion of entangling alliances. Our Founders wanted to do everything possible to avoid the endless, chronic wars in Europe. In Europe, for centuries, Kings from one nation fought their brothers and their cousins in other nations. This meaningless fratricide continued even into the 20th century.

The Founding Fathers were emphatic in their desire to avoid endless war. Washington wrote that our true policy was to steer clear of a permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world. Jefferson echoed this when he famously wrote of peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations and of entangling alliances with none.

Even in modern times, such military heroes as President Eisenhower opposed intervention in Hungary, even when the naked aggression of the Soviets was appalling. Eisenhower likely may have had no real opportunity, though, because the Soviet Union had rolled in with 200,000 troops and 4,000 tanks.

At least part of the decision not to go into Hungary in the fifties was not for a lack of sympathy for freedom, not for a lack of sympathy for self-determination of a country. It was the real politic decision of a nuclear confrontation with a nuclear Russia.


Fast-forward to today. For 16 years, we have been at war in the Middle East—16 years. If I had been here, I would have voted for going after the people who had attacked us on 9/11. Our justified response, though, has drug on and on. There are people who are fighting in the war who were not born on 9/11. The Congress voted after 9/11 to go to war. It voted to go after the people who planned and plotted the attacks on the World Trade Center. That vote from 15 years ago is used to justify all war that is everywhere on the planet.

There has been no meaningful debate on the wars we are currently involved in in the Middle East. We currently fight illegally and unconstitutionally in the Middle East because your representatives are afraid to have a public debate. They will stifle debate at all costs, and they will broker no amendments. They will allow no amendments to occur.

Our unrestricted, unvoted-upon involvement in war everywhere informed my opposition to expand NATO. Everyone likes to talk about NATO’s article 5 obligation to come to the defense of any NATO allies that are attacked. That is in the treaty. If Montenegro is attacked, we will have to respond, but my concern is that many in Congress believe that article 5, in saying that we have to defend Montenegro, farms out to an international body this power to declare war, and they do not think they have to vote again.

You don’t believe me?

They have not voted for 15 years for war, and we are still at war. We continue to go to new countries for war with no vote. Do you think that Montenegro will not be attacked and that there will not be a war without a vote? This is their history. Their history is one of not obeying the Constitution. David Fromkin puts it this way: ‘‘If it is now agreed by treaty that an attack on a . . . NATO ally is deemed an attack on the United States, then it can be argued that the President is empowered without congressional authoriza- tion to send us to war.’’

Don’t believe me? We have been at war for 15 years. We have been at war with dozens of new tribes, dozens of new countries, with no votes on war.

The most important vote a legislator will ever take is whether to go to war. Yet today we will vote for an automatic war if somebody invades Montenegro. And mark my words—they won’t obey the Constitution. They will say: We voted to put them in NATO. Article 5 says we have to defend them.

That is not the law of the land, and we should have to vote in Congress. But nobody obeys the law. So if you are worried about whether your kids will be sent to the Balkans or whether your kids will be sent to Ukraine or Georgia, call your representative and tell them: Stop.

This is the crux of the debate. Congress has abdicated its role in declaring war. For 16 years, we have been at war in the Middle East with dozens of different tribes and dozens of countries and yet no vote. People say: Well, we should fight ISIS. Well, let’s vote on it. Let’s declare war or not. But you can’t tell me that ISIS has anything to do with 9/11. They don’t. Many of their fighters weren’t even born then.

The authorization for war in Iraq was specific to a specific enemy in a specific place. So was the authorization after 9/11. The authorization for war in Afghanistan was specific. It says: necessary and appropriate force against those who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the September 11 attacks. It was actually put in the authorization for force that it was about 9/11. None of what is going on is about 9/11 anymore. They are not the same people. Some of the people we are fighting now didn’t like those people.

There is a whole confusing set of religious wars that have been going on for 1,000 years in the Middle East. Yet your representatives will say: Send me your son, send me your daughter, but we don’t have time to vote on whether it should be a declared war.

This vote is now used to justify a war around the globe, a vote from 9/11— from 15 years ago. It is a lie, and it is a disservice to our young men and women to have them fight under false pretenses where the Senators don’t seem to have time to have a debate. No active war anywhere around the globe that the United States is involved with has been authorized by Congress.

We dropped more bombs the other day in Pakistan. We sent a man right into Yemen. Raise your hand if you know what the hell is going on in Yemen and who is fighting whom and who is our enemy. The one we killed the other day was al-Qaida—probably a bad guy. He was actually fighting against the Houthis, whom we are also fighting against.

Who are the good guys? Shouldn’t we have a debate? Shouldn’t we decide whether we are going to war in Yemen? Should we be giving the Saudis bombs? They bombed a funeral procession. They killed 150 civilians and 500 people. We just let it go on. We keep giving them weapons. I have tried to stop selling bombs to the Saudi Arabians, but the majority up here says: Keep giving them to them. Keep giving them the weapons, and let them indiscriminately kill whoever the hell they want.

So NATO—should we expand it? Perhaps what we should do is make it clear that the NATO treaty is not a blind, open-ended promise to go to war anywhere, anytime.

Before we go to final passage, I will offer one amendment. This amendment will be blocked because they do not want debate and because they will be embarrassed if they have to vote against this amendment. But realize what this amendment asks. My amendment states that nothing in the NATO treaty—particularly the article 5 promise to come to the rescue of anyone attacked—none of this can happen without an official vote to declare war. So what is my amendment stating? 

The Constitution—article I, section 8—says we don’t go to war without a vote and a debate. Do you know what they will do to get around it? I think we can assume that they are against the Constitution because they are not going to allow the amendment. How long would it take? It takes 15 minutes to vote around here. I am about done speaking. We could have one 15-minute vote on an amendment. I would grant back the time if we would have a vote, but they don’t want to debate it because they are embarrassed that they are sending your sons and daughters to war without ever debating or voting on it.

This, to me, is a tragedy. It is sad to me. It makes me ashamed of the body that we will do this. Probably what is worse is then they clamor to the floor, their mouths agape, ajar, calling other people traitors, acting as if I care less about your sons and daughters because I want to have a debate on war before we go to war, preventing an amend- ment from happening and then having the gall to come to the floor and accuse their philosophic opponents of being traitors and being allies with the Russians.

Is this what we have come to? Is this where we are as America, that you can’t take a principled stand against war; that you can’t stand up on principle and say: Are we really going to go to war over Montenegro, over Ukraine? Are we really going to go to war over Georgia? And then you are accused of not being patriotic to your country.

I care as much as anybody about our soldiers. When I talk to our young men and women who serve, do you know what they tell me? They want someone to stand up and have a debate. They will do what they are told. Our soldiers are brave, and they will go where they are told, and they will obey orders. But the people here who are these mouthpieces for war, who think every soldier wants to go to war, I suggest they go out and meet the soldiers and ask them whether they want the civilian Senators to debate and have a formal declaration of war. That is all I am asking for—15 minutes and an amendment that says we will obey the Constitution.

If article 5 says we need to go to war and Montenegro is attacked, we will do the proper thing. We will come to the floor of the Senate. We are not sending troops to Montenegro without a vote on the floor of the Senate. Is that too much to ask for? We will see.

Mr. President, I call up my amendment No. 199 that says we should obey the Constitution and that we should declare war before we go to war.