Rep. John Duncan’s Plea for US Non-Intervention in Ukraine

by | Apr 7, 2014

Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) on March 13 presented on the floor of the United States House of Representatives a brief and insightful plea against the US government “sending billions” of dollars to Ukraine and escalating US intervention to cause “some type of military confrontation.”

Most representatives did not follow Duncan’s advice. Over the last few weeks, Duncan, an RPI Advisory Board member, has voted “no” with small minorities of representatives on bills that promote increasing US intervention and spending in Ukraine and that impose sanctions and demands on Russia.

Read and watch here, from Duncan’s House website, his speech:

Mr. Speaker, President Kennedy, in a 1961 speech at the University of Washington, said:

”We must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent or omniscient–that we are only 6 percent of the world’s population–that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind–that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity–and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem.”

The major difference now than when he spoke in 1961 is that we are only 4 percent of the world’s population, and we are over $17 trillion in debt. President Kennedy was right then, and we should carefully listen to his words today.

Many people are trying to prove that they are great world statesmen and are supporting policies that will commit us to spend billions we do not have on Ukraine. We don’t need to be sending billions to Ukraine, and we especially should not escalate this situation into some type of military confrontation.

We should have trade and tourism and cultural and educational exchanges with other countries and help, to a limited extent, during humanitarian crisis; but we cannot be the policemen of the world.

The Ukrainians are going to have to solve most of their problems on their own, and we need to start taking better care of our own country and our own people. In fact, Mr. Speaker, we are long past the time when we need to start putting our own people first and stop trying to run the whole world, creating a lot of resentment toward the U.S. in the process.

On March 11, two days before Duncan’s speech, the House passed H.Res. 499 by a vote of 402-7, with one additional vote of “present.” Among other provisions, H.Res. 499 calls for Russia to immediately remove military personnel from Crimea, for President Barack Obama to impose sanctions and other punitive measures on Russia, and for the US to send money to the Ukrainian government. While the resolution condemns Russian actions toward Ukraine several times, nowhere does the resolution mention the US government’s substantial contribution to creating crisis in Ukraine.

Most recently in the House’s series of Ukraine votes, the House passed HR 4152 on April 1 by a vote of 378-34. This bill, which Obama has signed into law, commits the US government to creating a line of credit to Ukraine. It also commits the US “to secure sufficient resources through the International Monetary Fund to support needed economic structural reforms in Ukraine under conditions that will reinforce a sovereign decision by the Government of Ukraine to sign and implement an association agreement with the European Union.” As RPI Chairman and Founder Ron Paul explains, the US will provide much of the funding for an IMF bailout that will benefit bankers while imposing greater suffering on Ukrainians.

HR 4152 even directs Obama to “provide additional security assistance, including defense articles and defense services … and military training” and to “support greater reform, professionalism, and capacity-building efforts within the military, intelligence, and security services” in Ukraine. This commitment to Ukraine, along with the bill’s multiple condemnations of Russia, makes clear the risk of escalation to “military confrontation” about which Duncan warned.

Will Americans amplify Duncan’s plea strongly enough to convince US politicians to reverse course? The answer to that question may make the difference between war and peace.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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