Where Is Congress on Ukraine’s Membership in NATO?


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Given all those pious pro-democracy pronouncements by U.S. officials, I’d like to ask what might be considered a discomforting question: Where is the U.S. Congress when it comes to deciding whether Ukraine becomes a member of NATO?

The answer to that question might be even more discomforting than the question itself: In a country that purports to be a representative democracy, Congress has no role in making that decision.

And yet, the issue of whether Ukraine joins NATO necessarily involves the lives of American citizens. That’s because if someone attacks Ukraine after it becomes a NATO member, the U.S. government is is duty-bound to enter the war on behalf of Ukraine. That means that as soon as Ukraine joins NATO, the lives of American soldiers are automatically pledged to Ukraine’s defense.

Given that Ukraine’s membership automatically embroils the United States in such a war, why doesn’t the U.S. Congress have a role in determining whether Ukraine becomes a NATO member or not? Shouldn’t the elected representatives of the people be involved in any decision that involves war?

Indeed, where does the declaration-of-war requirement provided in the Constitution fit into all this? Our ancestors called into existence a system in which the United States could not go to war without a formal declaration of war by Congress. Yet, obviously someone has figured out a clever way to avoid that constitutional requirement. As a practical matter, the NATO system trumps that constitutional protection. As soon as Ukraine is attacked, the United States is automatically at war, declaration of war or not.

What amazes me is that American parents of children who are 17 years of age to 24 years of age are so blasé about all this. Wouldn’t you think that they would be organizing protests against Ukraine membership, given that it is the lives of their children that are being pledged for the defense of Ukraine? From what I read, most people can’t identify Ukraine’s location on a map. I’m willing to bet that most Americans also don’t personally know any Ukrainians. 

Let’s say, for example, that Ukraine joins NATO and then Russia invades Ukraine. The United States is no duty-bound to wage war against Russia. In the event of such a war, it is a certainty that the Pentagon will issue an order for conscription, this time for both young men and young women. Those young people will be ordered to report to a military facility and trained to fight, kill, and die. Such a war would necessarily entail lots of casualties. 

How can the parents of children in that draft age group be so blasé about the situation? Do they really place a higher value on Ukraine than they do the lives of their own children? That’s hard to believe. And yet, where are the organized protests against admitting Ukraine into NATO?

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the same principle applies to all the other nations in NATO, including the former Warsaw Pact countries. By absorbing them into NATO, the lives of young American citizens have been pledged to come automatically to their defense in the event they are attacked, without any congressional participation in the matter. 

So, if it’s not Congress is who making the decision on when the country goes to war, who is making that decision? Once again, the answer is discomforting. My hunch is that many Americans don’t want to hear it. The answer is the Pentagon. They generals are the ones running the federal government, at least when it comes to foreign affairs. 

The scheme works like this: Ostensibly, NATO bureaucrats from the existing member nations decide who will become a new NATO member. As a practical matter, however, it is the Pentagon calling the shots, given that U.S. officials provide the lion’s share of the money to fund this Cold War dinosaur. Thus, if the Pentagon decides that it wants to admit a new member into NATO, such as Ukraine, all the other NATO bureaucrats immediately fall into line and support the decision. 

One of the most insightful books that has been written in the recent years is National Security and Double Government by Michael Glennon. For any American who isn’t afraid to confront reality about what is going on in America owes it to himself to read this book. Glennon’s thesis is a discomforting one. He says that it is the national-security segment of the government — i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA — that is actually running the government and that the other parts of the government are simply serving in support. Glennon is a professor of law at Tufts University and has served as counsel to various congressional committees. 

An ominous aspect to all this is that in the 1950s and 1960s, when the president, the Congress, and the judiciary were still in charge of the federal government, there was nothing the Pentagon and the CIA wanted more than a war with Russia. One can only wonder whether that Cold War mindset still holds sway today.

In any event, I wouldn’t bother with sending a letter to President Biden or your congressman to express your opposition to NATO’s absorption of Ukraine. You would only be wasting your time. You would be better off sending your letter to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The post Where Is Congress on Ukraine’s Membership in NATO? appeared first on The Future of Freedom Foundation.



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