If Sen. Paul were in charge of foreign policy, the world would be more peaceful

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Letters to the Editor: When will we ever tire of mass shootings in our country?

On April 27, during a hearing of the Sente Committee on Foreign Relations featuring Secretary of State Blinken, Senator Rand Paul questioned Blinken’s assertion that Ukraine’s non-membership in NATO led to its invasion by Russia. Senator Paul retorted that another, less obvious but important reason: that Ukraine had formerly been part of the Soviet Union then controlled by Russia. While Blinken, and later CNN, jumped on Senator Paul’s comment as an egregious justification for the Russian invasion, they both missed the more salient point from Kentucky’s junior Senator—namely that Ukraine was attacked because it sought to become a member of NATO. As pointed out by Paul such an action was considered contrary to the vital interests of Russia and as such a “red line.”

The reason Ukraine’s initiative to become a member of NATO was viewed as a provocation by Russia has its roots in contemporary history. As described in James Baker’s recent biography by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, when conferring with Gorbachev regarding his concerns about the reunification of Germany, the former Secretary of State reassured the Soviet Premier that NATO would “move not one inch to the east.” This pledge was shattered when Poland joined the NATO alliance.

That Russians fear foreign encroachment is not surprising. The US is still traumatized after the events of Sept. 11 which witnessed the deaths of 2,996 Americans. In contrast, Russians experienced nearly 14 million deaths at the hands of a European invader only 80 years ago. There can be little doubt that the psychic wounds experienced by Russians remain unhealed when the number lost in WWII represented 12.7% of its 1940 population — five times larger than proportion of deaths experienced by the United States during the Civil War.

As the US continues to ship great quantities of weapons and ordnance into Ukraine in its proxy war with Russia, the bereavement of Ukraine will certainly be prolonged. This was the exactly the case in Syria where 13 million refugees were created and the city of Aleppo pounded to oblivion as the US and Russia both stubbornly sought to prevail, leaving ordinary Syrians caught in a brutal crossfire.

Though our media is fixated on the plucky image of President Zelenskyy (who never dodged a bullet or missed a meal) most of the 7.7 million Ukrainians who have already been displaced no doubt evidence far less martial enthusiasm

Although I am not in lock-step with all the views of Senator Paul, I do believe if our foreign policy were in his hands the world would be a far more peaceful place.

Rick Chrisman lives in Lexington and is the author of “Fat Chance: Diet Mania, Greed and the Infamous Fen Phen Swindle.”