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Most of Montana’s Congressional delegation turning a blind eye to imperiled democracy in Ukraine

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Most of Montana’s Congressional delegation turning a blind eye to imperiled democracy in Ukraine

Apr 03, 2024 | 6:03 am ET
By Peter D. Fox
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Most of Montana’s Congressional delegation turning a blind eye to imperiled democracy in Ukraine
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President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky gives a Ukrainian flag signed by members of the Ukrainian military to U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, as he addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 21, 2022 in Washington, D.C. In his first known trip outside of Ukraine since Russia invaded, Zelenskyy met with U.S. President Joe Biden and outlined Ukraine's request for continued military aid. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images)

On June 6, 1984, at Pointe du Hoc, seven miles west of Normandy American Cemetery in France, President Ronald Reagan delivered a stirring tribute to the Army Rangers who scaled the 100-foot cliff on D-Day that also served as an enduring rationale for American defense cooperation.

As the then-city-state editor of The Billings Gazette and the intelligence office for the former 1st Squadron, 163rd Armored Cavalry Regiment of the Montana Army National Guard atop the Rims, I listened closely. 

“We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars,” Reagan said. “It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.”

He described NATO as “a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield from freedom, for prosperity and peace.”

I doubt that the three Montana lawmakers opposing vital funding for Ukraine are aware of Reagan’s important words. Steve Daines and Ryan Zinke were graduating college in Montana and Oregon, Matt Rosendale was stepping away from a Maryland community college and looking for a profession.

Current GOP Senate hopeful Tim Sheehy would not make his appearance in Minnesota for another two years and in Montana for another 30.

A veterans advocacy group, VoteVets, has created a powerful video juxtaposing portions of Reagan’s speech with Ukraine and our world today; it is on the group’s website. The Reagan Foundation website carries a video of the entire speech.

Daines and Zinke now oppose the financial aid because … well, because Donald Trump told them to, and Rosendale opposes the support because he is a member of the so-called “Freedom Caucus,” which is ironic in this context. 

But the most dramatic head-snap to oppose aid to Ukraine was made by the man who calls himself “Montana’s Warrior.” 

Sheehy’s first public post was unequivocal:

 “Sweden and Finland are next? We’ve seen this movie before…. stop him now before the price tag for putting Putin down will be a lot higher. Georgia, Crimea, Syria, now Kiev- then what? Estonia? Finland? Sweden? GoFundMe pages and twitter likes aren’t enough. Soldiers, planes, bombs and bullets will be needed against this Tyrant.”

Tim, the answers to all your questions is a resounding, “Yes!”

But then Sheehy heard Trump’s dog whistle and did a perfect military about-face to say assistance to Ukraine needs to end. Shameful!

Unfortunately, too many American citizens are following the lead of Republican in Congress who, like Sheehy, are kneeling to Trump’s demand to take block aid to Ukraine until the former president can be re-elected, and, as he claims, “negotiate an end to the war.” Other Republicans such as Matt Rosendale and a portion of his followers embrace a new Isolationism.

Lawmakers are on the verge of leaving Washington without a firm path forward for passing aid to Ukraine, as Kyiv struggles with ammunition shortages on the battlefield. News reports say some House members could vote on an assistance package following the Easter recess.

Advocates of the “Trump delay” clearly do not understand the military value of continuity and momentum which Ukraine is losing because of ammunition and supply disruptions. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who does understand has urged his colleagues be aware that “time is of the essence.”  

Parallels between Russia’s assault on Ukraine to the failed appeasement given the rising Nazi juggernaut are too obvious to mention. Ukraine is conducting a holding action for western democracies. 

Putin has become the greatest challenge to European security and democratic nations in decades. He is taking aggressive steps against Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, and could sever the Baltic States from Europe with a Crimea-like thrust between Poland and Lithuania through what is known as the Suwalki Gap.

Remember the Fram oil filter commercial in the 1970s? “Pay me now or pay me later.” 

Still applies today.