McCain accuses Rand Paul of 'working for Putin'
Senator John McCain accused Senator Rand Paul of "now working for Vladimir Putin," when the Kentucky Senator objected to a unanimous consent resolution that would have recommended tiny Montenegro for NATO membership.
"If there's objection, you are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin," McCain warned. "If they object, they are now carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin, and I do not say that lightly."
But as predicted, Paul quickly objected with McCain asked for consent to call up a resolution that would have the U.S. ratify the treaty if approved.
"I object," Paul said before quickly leaving the Senate. Paul's move shocked McCain, who said Paul didn't appear to have any good reason for objecting.
"That is really remarkable," McCain said. "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 argument to be made," he said.
"The senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin," McCain concluded.
Paul was under no obligation to explain his objection, so McCain's shocking allegation seems more a matter of pique than anything else.
Paul offered this reason for his objection:
"Currently, the United States has troops in dozens of countries and is actively fighting in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen (with the occasional drone strike in Pakistan)," Paul said. "In addition, the United States is pledged to defend 28 countries in NATO."
"It is unwise to expand the monetary and military obligations of the United States given the burden of our $20 trillion debt," he said.
A spokeswoman for McCain said Paul's explanation isn't enough, and that he should have offered one to the chamber as he objected to McCain's request.
From a purely strategic standpoint, Paul is probably correct. NATO membership should only be open to nations that can add to our collective security. Montenegro's tiny military would add nothing to NATO and might serve as a catalyst for war with Russia. It is extremely unwise for the alliance to give the decision for war or peace to a country that can't defend itself or its neighbors.
The strongest members of the alliance should never give the weakest members the power to drag the rest of NATO into a conflict it doesn't want. With the US standing behind it, committed to go to war to defend it, Montenegro could become a flashpoint for war even though there would be no US vital interests at stake. The same can be said for some other NATO countries.
Paul might have offered an explanation on the Senate floor for his objection, but McCain had no call to go off half cocked and accuse the Senator of doing Russia's bidding just because Paul didn't think expanding NATO to include a small, vulnerable country was wise.