McCain versus Paul: The New Red Scare Masks US Foreign Policy Insanity

On March 15, US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) revealed just how ridiculous the American political establishment’s reliance on Vladimir Putin as boogeyman has become.

McCain, seeking the Senate’s unanimous consent to advance a bill supporting admission of the small country of Montenegro to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, warned that anyone who dissented would be “carrying out the desires and ambitions of [Russian president Vladimir] Putin.” True to form, when Kentucky Republican Rand Paul objected (meaning only that the matter will actually be debated instead of rubber-stamped), McCain asserted that “the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”

Paul’s having some fun with McCain’s over-the-top theatrics, describing McCain as “past his prime” and “unhinged” on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. But let’s set aside the rivalry aspect and look at what McCain’s hysterical performance says about US foreign policy.

Montenegro is a small country (about 600,000 people) with a small military (less than 2,000 active duty soldiers, sailors and airmen) which is nowhere near the north Atlantic (its only coastline is on the Adriatic Sea).

Lest we forget, the Balkans are known for producing wars both small and large. Montenegro borders Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia. Is there any particular reason the US should commit itself by treaty to intervene in the military spats that break out in that region at the drop of a hat (or the assassination of an Archduke)?

The only word I can come up with on short notice to describe the idea of bringing Montenegro into NATO is “nonsensical.”

But even assuming the idea made sense at all, it hardly seems urgent. The matter has been pending for more than a year now (Montenegro received its initial NATO invitation in December of 2015). Is the world going to end if the US Senate takes time to talk it over instead of just stampeding on John McCain’s command?

McCain seems to think so. He considers any Senate action other than unthinking, reflexive approval of anything he might happen to propose vis-à-vis US foreign policy to be evidence of a Russian plot to destroy America, and anyone who doesn’t give him exactly what he wants on demand a Russian agent.

The American foreign policy establishment’s use of Vladimir Putin as an all-purpose hobgoblin isn’t just ridiculous, it’s dangerous and insane. Left unchecked it will, sooner or later, drag America into unnecessary wars costing us untold blood and treasure.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. He lives and works in north central Florida. This article is reprinted with permission from William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

6 thoughts on “McCain versus Paul: The New Red Scare Masks US Foreign Policy Insanity”

  1. Thomas, it’s true that Montenegro is a small country, etc. but you should point out that the US sees Montenegro as very important strategically. And I’m not going to explain ‘why’ for you. I’ll only say that it’s roughly as important as any other Nato country to the US now.

    I really liked your idea of the bill not just being rubber stamped but debated though. That’s right, but it’s a small step, even though the failure won’t hurt Rand Paul’s popularity.

    You asked: “Is there any particular reason the US should commit itself by treaty to intervene in the military spats that break out in that region at the drop of a hat (or the assassination of an Archduke)?”

    I don’t think you should ask that kind of question without providing the answer we know is the reason why. Nonsensical isn’t the answer. And all your readers don’t know the real answer. (same criticism as in your other story)

    However, your criticism of McCain misses the real issue. That’s just political bluster that doesn’t have consequences. That which ‘does’ have consequences is Trump’s move to escalate tensions with N.Korea. That’s where the consequences will be seen, if either N.Korea reacts again to US pressure, or if the US under Trump’s command reacts. Personally, I think N.Korea should detonate a small nuke about halfway to Japan.

    And besides Thomas, I’m going to predict right now that McCain is going to have plenty of support when both the Dems and the Repubs defeat this thing by Paul and Betty boop from Hawaii.

    Otherwise, your piece was enjoyable to read!

    1. At present, it seems unlikely that North Korea COULD detonate a small nuke halfway to Japan.

      For one thing, it’s unclear whether or not they actually have any nukes. They’ve exploded atomic (fission) bombs. They’ve claimed to have exploded a nuclear (fusion) bomb, but scientists in other countries are skeptical of that claim based on seismic activity and air sampling being more typical of a mere atomic blast.

      For another, it’s unclear that they’ve mastered putting either fission OR fusion weapons on missiles and having those weapons detonate when they reach their targets.

      Personally I don’t think they’ve accomplished those two things, for the simple reason that if the US genuinely believes they have accomplished, or are about to accomplish, those two things, the only question will be whether the preemptive US strikes preceding the US invasion of North Korea are themselves nuclear or conventional.

      1. I hear you! I only slightly lean toward them having a bomb, while I would guess that they do have a ‘vehicle’ in which to deliver one. (a motorcycle with a sidecar?)( a submarine?) (a missile?)

        It’s surely nonsensical from the POV of those who oppose war and the continuous US attempts to bring down N.Korea.

        But those who are doing just that see a lot of sense in it supposedly. For those who see sense in doing it, we are left with not understanding why.

        The reason I will offer up is that the US (Trump) is bent on domination and control over China’s sphere of influence in the world. Others may call it nothing more than the US defending itself against communism.
        You may have your own reason for why Trump is pushing the envelope anew? I was only suggesting that you supply an answer.

        1. Trump is not “pushing the envelope anew.”

          He’s following a pillar of US foreign policy of the last 100 years and change (starting with the acquisition of the Philippines in the Spanish-American War) and cribbing from the Obama playbook of an “Asia pivot” that maintains/regains US status on the Pacific Rim at China’s expense — as opposed to the Clintonite and establishment GOP’s desire to focus on Europe/Russia as the bogeyman of the era.

          He’s business as usual.

          1. Business as usual. Yes, but now on a higher level and more accelerated scale than the recent comparison of Obama. The main page of this site is telling the story for us. Something is happening and we’re reading about it every day now.
            Iran is a given as Trump is promising to destroy the deal.
            Syria is showing signs of escalation with the 1000 marines to Syria
            N.Korea in heightened rhetoric and US threats. As well as today’s report of a B1 overflight of China’s ID airspace, whatever that means. RTnews.

            It’s my opinion that we have a lot more to worry about with Trump as opposed to Obama. At the present I can’t imagine how he won’t exceed the war crimes of Bush2.

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