GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called for the U.S. to be aware of Russia’s perspective, in an op-ed for USA Today Wednesday after the Senate passed a non-binding motion to support and expand NATO on Tuesday.
Paul wrote that just because the U.S. is aware of Russia’s perspective didn’t mean the U.S agreed with it, but “that we are aware our actions lead to reactions, and that NATO expansion does not occur in a vacuum.”
Paul was one of two senators to vote against the NATO motion Tuesday. He tweeted Tuesday that he “agreed” with President Donald Trump that most NATO countries don’t “pay their fair share.” GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah also voted against the motion.
Why is the U.S. Senate pushing to expand NATO when most of them aren’t even paying their fair share? I stand with @realDonaldTrump. Today, I blocked a resolution that applauds and calls for the expansion of NATO.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 10, 2018
Paul called for the U.S. Senate to “return to being a deliberative body on foreign policy” and questioned if adding countries such as Montenegro and Albania enhanced U.S. security.
“Does adding countries such as Albania and Montenegro increase our security or ensnare us in possible regional disputes? Are we willing to risk war with Russia by including countries that already are mired in military conflict with Russia?” Paul wrote.
Paul and Lee were the only senators to vote against a treaty admitting Montenegro into NATO in March 2017.
Paul also invoked George Kennan in his op-ed, pointing that Kennan wrote in 1997 that NATO expansion would “inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations.”
Paul further wrote that both parties tended to “shake their fists” and take “unilateral actions” to attack U.S adversaries under the “misguided notion” these actions would lead to “capitulation.”
Instead of capitulation, Paul argued, the U.S has “seen rising tensions, increased nationalism and a ratcheting up of a Cold War-like fever.”
Relations between Russia and the U.S. have swayed during the Trump administration, with the president saying Monday that dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin would be easier than NATO leaders, according to The Daily Caller.
“I have NATO, I have the U.K., which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think?” Trump said.
Trump pressured NATO countries to increase their defense spending to two percent in Brussels and accused Germany of being a captive of Russia due to Germany being heavily reliant on Russian gas and energy, according to The Daily Caller. (RELATED: ‘Very Stable Genius:’ Trump Declares Victory After ‘Successful’ NATO Summit)
GOP Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said to CNN on Tuesday that the motion was needed to “demonstrate a strong commitment” to NATO.
“I think it is important that we demonstrate a strong commitment to the NATO alliance,” Thune said. “I mean this is something that has served freedom-loving countries well for half a century.”
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