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Sophie Warren, D-Scarborough, represents District 124 in the Maine House.
I grew up in a town of World War II veterans. My Grandpa Warren was a World II Navy pilot.
He and his friends in Scarborough talk about the six or seven guys from our area who were at D-Day, at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944.
D-Day captured his imagination, not because of the planes, parachutes, bullets and tanks. He marveled at D-Day because of the almost-universal support and cooperation of countries in the world to achieve such a feat. Millions of people from across the world were united in support of Allied forces actions against Germany. Many countries spoke in support of Allied action.
That was stunning. What cause does a majority of international citizens ever agree on?
The Ukraine situation is sad, tragic and a senseless loss of life — to an oversized (ineffective) bully.
Who could disagree with that?
Fast forward to earlier this month.
Some people for whom I have great respect put together a resolution in the Maine House of Representatives calling for a proclamation that our country supports the Ukrainians in their war effort and, arguably, should be prepared to jump in to support Ukraine on the ground. That is where they lost me in the debate.
NATO should be taking the strongest lead role in this conflict. They aren’t. NATO could have allowed Ukraine to become a member a year ago when the war started, and then NATO could have invoked an important clause in its charter that says an attack on any member is attack on all. Then there would have been a united international action on the ground in combat against Russia and in favor of Ukraine.
That didn’t happen. Why? Because, for whatever reason, there is not the international support for Ukraine that there was in World War II for fighting Adolf Hitler and Germany or ending the Nazi-occupation of France as the first step on D-Day toward stopping the Nazi war effort.
I voted against this resolution. I did not take the opportunity to speak on the House floor in the debate. I should have. If I had spoken, I would’ve said that my goal in this debate is the same as it has always been in international conflicts, which I studied in some detail in college. That goal is the de-escalation of violent conflict and the advocacy of peace against a threat of nuclear war.
Resolutions of this nature, on big international topics, are not the best resolved in state legislatures, I would humbly submit. The debate ended up being a little bit simplistic and a little bit like a compilation of bumper stickers on the back of automobiles in the 1970s.
Our job as state legislators is to solve problems we have in Maine. There are many problems in the world that are attractive to tackle. That doesn’t mean we should.
Though we see injustices abroad, we must see robust, clear and united international support in our military commitments if we seek to address them, lest we find ourselves failing to learn from our own history in the Vietnam War.
As strongly as we all feel about the victims in Ukraine, it is critical where we put our attention as state legislators in the role we have been tasked with.
I want to see more of an effort by the international community on Ukraine. I am not in favor of sending young men and women to fight in Ukraine.
You may think I am unkind. I am not. I am just practical, and I try to be a team player. Being on a team requires both that you ask others to be good teammates, but also that you are a good teammate yourself.
Hopefully, Congress will continue to discuss the Ukraine war. Hopefully a good international solution will be arrived at soon.
In the meantime, I’m going to stick to addressing the needs of Mainers under the laws of this state. I am going to continue to fight climate change and other topics that the voters in Scarbrough sent me to Augusta to tackle. Ukraine will not be one of them.