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Rand Paul Offers An Alternate Path On Foreign Policy For The GOP

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is suggesting that the Republican Party harms itself by adopting an overly aggressive, interventionist position on foreign policy:

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Monday that Republicans can win in New England and on the West Coast if they’re willing to drop a “we need to bomb everybody tomorrow” foreign policy.

“I think one of the problems we face, as a Republican party, is that we’re behind the eight-ball to begin with,” Paul said on CBS’ “This Morning.” “We’re not winning the West Coast. We’re not winning New England. Maybe we need to embrace more Ron Paul Republicans, more libertarian Republicans. … It means people who are little bit less aggressive on foreign policy. They believe in defending the country, but they don’t believe we need to be everywhere all the time.”

There are only four GOP senators from the six New England states, and none from the three states on the Pacific coast.

“We should have a more defensive foreign policy, a less aggressive foreign policy,” Paul said. “I think that would go over much better in New England than the typical ‘we need to bomb everybody tomorrow’ policy you hear from some Republicans.”

Here’s the video:

This is, in many ways, a mirror of what Paul said during his speech at the Republican National Convention:

Republicans and Democrats alike must slay their sacred cows. Republicans must acknowledge that not every dollar spent on the military is necessary or well-spent, and Democrats must admit that domestic welfare and entitlements must be reformed.

Republicans and Democrats must replace fear with confidence, confidence that no terrorist, and no country, will ever conquer us if we remain steadfast to the principles of our Founding documents.

We have nothing to fear except our own unwillingness to defend what is naturally ours, our God-given rights. We have nothing to fear that should cause us to forget or relinquish our rights as free men and women.

To thrive we must believe in ourselves again, and we must never — never — trade our liberty for any fleeting promise of security.

Of course, Paul’s vision is very much in the minority in the Republican Party, even though in many ways it is closer to the mainstream of American public opinion than the interventionism espoused by people like John Bolton and Newt Gingrich, and eagerly and completely adopted by Mitt Romney throughout the 2012 campaign. Indeed, more often than not someone who expresses ideas similar to Senator Paul’s among other Republicans and conservatives ends up being called, falsely, an isolationist, a word that still seems to retain some sense of being a slur even though its been some 75 years or more since the pre-World War II “American First” crowd was a thing. It’s not a fair or accurate representation of the ideas that Senator Paul is talking about here, but it is used by many on the right as a way of attempting to silence debate on foreign policy issues. While it doesn’t seem to be nearly as effective as it used to be given that there are a growing number of Republicans, in the House, who are willing to break from GOP orthodoxy on issues such as the Afghanistan War and the defense sequestration cuts, it’s still used and, especially among activists it still works. Call someone an “isolationist” and that give other people an excuse to just ignore them rather than giving their ideas the consideration they deserve.

The devil, of course, is always in the details and we do have to recognize that we live in a difficult and complicated world that requires us to be engaged at some level if for no other reason than to protect our own interests (such as by having a Navy able to keep sea lanes open and free from interference), but there’s very little in the general principles that Paul puts forward that ought to be objectionable. A foreign policy that is less aggressive and more geared to fostering good diplomatic and economic relationships strikes me as a far better world to live in than one where we are in a constant state of confrontation. Speaking specifically of the War On Terror, the desire by many on the right to turn that into some crusade against Islam strikes me as monumentally stupid largely because, in the end, picking a fight with a religion made up of a billion people pretty much guarantees perpetual war. Obviously, that kind of strategy won’t work with every country — North Korea in particular comes to mind — but it strikes me that the world would be a far better place if we didn’t treat other nations like children to be controlled.

Even if there are elements of his ideas that are worthy of criticism, and I’m sure some can be found, I do find myself hoping that these comments by Senator Paul are a signs that there will be some real debate inside the GOP about the proper course of foreign policy. Not only would it be could for our national security, it would be good for our financial future as well. After all, peace is cheaper.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rick Almeida says:

    I’m glad he’s willing to continue to say this – someone sure needs to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  2. If I could order some off column A, and some off column B, I think I might go with Paul foreign policy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. David M says:

    As much of an improvement he is over a generic GOP candidate on foreign policy, he’s usually that much worse on domestic policy. Still, it’d be nice if we didn’t have to worry about the GOP being lunatics in both areas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  4. @David M:

    How so? He opposes the PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretaps, and he wants to shrink the size of an incredibly bloated Federal Government.

    Sounds good to me

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  5. David M says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You’re right, he’d be an improvement as far as the Patriod Act and warrantless wiretaps go, but in general economic policy or health care. (For me anyway)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  6. LC says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Sounds good to me.

    Unless, of course, you are a woman who believes she has the right to control her own body, use or not use any form of contraception available, get or not get an abortion.

    But then I suspect, based on your posts, that the rights of women rank pretty low on the scale. And please, explain to me how “libertarian” principles based on small government always manage to except the bodies of women?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    This is the sort of thing that doesn’t echo in the echo chamber. You have the part of the Republican party that want’s to give welfare to the Military Industrial Complex and the neanderthal base that really likes the idea of the military killing brown people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    On a side note, I was redirected to Pachelbel’s Canon….. God I love that piece.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Tsar Nicholas says:

    You lost me at “Rand Paul.”

    That aside, it’s touching that the chattering classes apparently have decided now that foreign policy — and not, duh, the economy — is de rigueur with respect to this particular election cycle, but what takes that from the cynical, the hypocritical and the absurd all the way to the really absurd is that never in a million years on the Internet would you see a post to the effect: “Joe Lieberman Offers An Alternate Path on Foreign Policy for the Democrat Party.” Keep in mind that while Rand Paul is a freshman, back benching Senator of no consequence from nowhere Joe Lieberman in 2000 was the Democrat Party’s nominee for Vice President.

    That dichotomy is inherent to and emblematic of two features of the chattering classes, which combined are among the primary reasons why politics in this country is so f’n FUBAR: (1) Republican Derangement Syndrome, and (2) especially germane to this topic, an effeminate approach to politics, in general, and specifically with regards to foreign policy.

    The reality is that reality still hasn’t sunk in. Not in the media. Not in the academe. Not on the Internet.

    From Munich, to Beirut, to the Achille Lauro, to Pan Am 103, to WTC ’93, to Khobar, to Tanzania, to the USS Cole, to 9/11, to London, to Moscow, and many places in between, and notwithstanding Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, and now Libya, the chattering classes in large part still dangerously are clueless about how the world actually works and what really is at stake. Which leads to the inescapable conclusion: Leftism as an ideology is a de facto national suicide pill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  10. James Joyner says:

    @LC: Actually, most libertarians support abortion rights, contraception, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  11. An Interested Party says:

    That dichotomy is inherent to and emblematic of two features of the chattering classes, which combined are among the primary reasons why politics in this country is so f’n FUBAR: (1) Republican Derangement Syndrome, and (2) especially germane to this topic, an effeminate approach to politics, in general, and specifically with regards to foreign policy.

    Yes, these are two reasons why politics are so screwed up…forget the inflexibility, the inability for compromise, the fatcats and their special deals, gerrymandering, etc. etc. etc….it is some supposed hatred of Republicans and an alleged pu$$y approach to foreign affairs that are the problems…this Tsar Nicholas makes jokers like Erik Florack and Superdestroyer seem almost sane by comparison, not that he would realize the irony…

    …the chattering classes in large part still dangerously are clueless about how the world actually works and what really is at stake.

    This from someone who probably was for the Iraq Debacle…now there is some real irony…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. swbarnes2 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Actually, most libertarians support abortion rights, contraception, etc.

    Really?

    Do they demonstrate this support by helping to elect politicians who will pass laws ensuring that those things are available to women who need them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  13. Habbit says:

    @LC:

    Unless, of course, you are a woman who believes she has the right to control her own body, use or not use any form of contraception available, get or not get an abortion.

    But then I suspect, based on your posts, that the rights of women rank pretty low on the scale. And please, explain to me how “libertarian” principles based on small government always manage to except the bodies of women?

    As opposed to having a man who sexually assaulted numerous women and cheated on his wife in the Oval Office be the keynote speaker of your convention? Seriously, please don’t vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  14. Davebo says:

    Actually, most libertarians support abortion rights, contraception, etc.

    No James, that’s what some “Libertarians”, if the word even has meaning anymore, tell themselves to help them sleep at night and continue to vote for Republicans who oppose such things.

    Did you ever think it a bit odd that so called Libertarians don’t vote for Libertarian candidates?

    Well, except Doug. Lord knows what lever he pulls in the booth. But it’s not for a Republican Dammit!!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Davebo says:

    Habbit,

    I hate to break it to you, but there are ways to get laid without sexually assaulting a woman. Perhaps not for you of course, but it happens.

    And if you are going to accuse a man, any man, of sexual assault, it’s a good idea to nail down the actual date and location when and where the assault occurred. Which is more that Paula Jones managed.

    But then Rush said so and it’s not like he took off to Costa Rica with a ton of illegal Viagra on a “Boys weekend out”. I’m thinking “boys” didn’t refer to his fellow travelers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  16. Scott F. says:

    Doug…

    I do find myself hoping that these comments by Senator Paul are a signs that there will be some real debate inside the GOP about the proper course of foreign policy.

    …meet Nicholas…

    the primary reasons why politics in this country is so f’n FUBAR: (1) Republican Derangement Syndrome, and (2) especially germane to this topic, an effeminate approach to politics, in general, and specifically with regards to foreign policy.

    Sorry to burst your bubble.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Rob in CT says:

    One can always hope…

    I’d like to ow what level of support exists in the GOP for this (and the Dems for that matter. While I suspect support would be far higher amongst Dems, I’m not sure). Not “isolationism” or some other distortion, but simply a move to a less aggressive/interventionist FP.

    Is there poll data on this?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. JohnMcC says:

    We’ll know what Sen Paul’s real beliefs on foreign policy are when he has to decide on funding for Israel. For a Repub, everything else is easy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Jack says:

    @LC: LC
    There is a difference between supporting a woman’s access to these products and services verses a right to them. A woman can pay for any service/product she want’s or needs; that is access–but don’t put it on my charge account; that is theft.

    The foundation of libertarianism is do what you what/need as long as it doen’t affect the lives of others. You want a contraception or abortion then go pay for it. Don’t ask me to subsidise or outright pay for services for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. anjin-san says:

    Actually, most libertarians support abortion rights,

    Doug has a track record of telling us that it is “silly” or “stupid” to talk about the subject. Are these rights kept safe by leprechauns? No. It is up to us to defend them, and that takes work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. David M says:

    @Jack:

    You want a contraception or abortion then go pay for it. Don’t ask me to subsidise or outright pay for services for you.

    Insurance for contraception works exactly the same as insurance for any other health care service. To most people that fact that they are paying premiums means they aren’t asking someone else to pay for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  22. Jack says:

    @David M:
    Insurance yes, Not Obama Care though.

    Obamacare mandates minimal health services but doesn’t allow insurers to charge more for more services. Therefore you must make everyone, to include a single male, pay for insurance which covers these contraceptives; effectively makeing that single male and others like him pay for contraceptive device coverage they cannot use.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  23. David M says:

    @Jack:

    I am unaware of a health insurance policy that does not include coverage for things I will never use.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. swbarnes2 says:

    @Jack:

    Therefore you must make everyone, to include a single male, pay for insurance which covers these contraceptives; effectively makeing that single male and others like him pay for contraceptive device coverage they cannot use.

    Are you gay? Or you plan on having sex no more times in your life than you intend to have a child?

    If neither is the case, then you are probably using contraceptives, one way or another.

    And anyway, it’s still ridiculous. Sandra Fluke’s friend got cysts the size of tennis balls because she could not afford her medication.

    If your prostrate swells to the size of a tennis ball, no one here will feel one bit sorry for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0