View Full Version : Rand Paul: Conservative Realist?

10-28-2014, 03:42 PM
Rand Paul: Conservative Realist? (http://reason.com/archives/2014/10/28/rand-paul-conservative-realist)
The Kentucky senator speaks about ISIS, the Middle East, and when America should go to war
By Matt Welch - October 28, 2014

On Oct. 23, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) gave a major address in front of the Center for National Interest, a "realist" foreign policy think tank founded by Richard Nixon. As he did in a similar February 2013 speech in front of the conservative Heritage Foundation, the libertarian-leaning presumptive 2016 GOP presidential candidate attempted to sell his foreign policy vision to fellow Republicans as being in the tradition of Ronald Reagan and Caspar Weinberger, representing a middle path between the near-absolute anti-intervention of his (unmentioned) father and the hyper-interventionism of the Washington establishment.

As has become routine for the high-profile junior senator from Kentucky, reaction to the speech varied widely depending on audience. Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, who has long advocated a less interventionist foreign policy, told reporters "I think I just heard Ronald Reagan speaking." The lefty analysis site Vox enthused that "Rand Paul just gave one of the most important foreign policy speeches in decades," because it "declared war on his own party." The Hill described the address as "anti-isolationist," neoconservative Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin scoffed that Paul was "still pretending he's not an isolationist," and so on.

Of particular interest to libertarians looking to probe the senator's foreign policy principles was his seemingly dissonant support for U.S. air strikes against the Islamic State and opposition to intervening in the ongoing Syrian civil war. When Paul first backed hitting ISIS in early September, the national political press erupted in a spasm of articles accusing him of politically motivated flip-flopping, a charge the senator testily refutes.

Four days after this latest foreign policy speech, Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch spoke with Sen. Paul over the telephone to flesh out his notion of realism, and probe some limiting principles on taking the nation to war.
Q&A at link: http://reason.com/archives/2014/10/28/rand-paul-conservative-realist

10-28-2014, 08:06 PM
reason: You mentioned in your speech that America shouldn't fight wars when there is no plan for victory. And you're still supporting airstrikes against ISIS. How do you visualize our plan for victory while doing airstrikes against ISIS?
Paul: I see the airstrikes really as defending vital American interests, and that would be our embassy in Baghdad as well as our consulate in Erbil. I've been very critical of Hillary Clinton over the last couple of years for her lack of defense for Benghazi. I do think that it is a function of our national defense and our foreign policy that when we do have embassies around the world, we do defend that presence.
It's very clear Senator Paul doesn't understand what an embassy is, or how it's supposed to operate. And that topic has been dealt with plenty and in great detail on this very forum.