Rand Paul carves out own space on foreign policy
February 6th, 2013
08:23 PM ET
2 years ago

Rand Paul carves out own space on foreign policy

(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul advanced his foreign policy views in a speech on Wednesday that appeared to be aimed at showing his fluency in that arena, particularly on radical Islam, the suspected Iranian nuclear weapons program, and U.S. military involvement.

On some of those issues, he sounded tones similar to his father, the former three-time presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Rand Paul campaigned for his father, who drew attention for his libertarian views - which he described as non-interventionist but critics described as isolationist.

But overall, the Republican senator from Kentucky sought make his own foreign policy footprint – and project himself as mainstream.

"I've just joined the Foreign Relations Committee. I wanted to spell out what my vision is for our foreign policy," he said in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" after his speech. "I think it's a unique position and I think its one that needs to be expressed."

The vision he laid out at the conservative Heritage foundation was primarily guided by "two basic tenants of true conservatism: Respect for the Constitution and fiscal discipline."

"What the United States needs is a foreign policy that finds that middle path – a policy that is not rash or reckless, a foreign policy that is reluctant, restrained by Constitutional checks and balances, but does not appease," he said.

"A foreign policy that recognizes the danger of radical Islam but also the inherent weakness of radical Islam. A foreign policy that recognizes the danger of bombing countries on the pretext of what they might someday do," he said.

On that last note, he sounded much like his father, who divided the Pentagon's activities into defense and military spending. Defense spending is necessary and proper, Ron Paul said; military and foreign aid spending are not.

His father spoke out strongly against the U.S. wars of the past decade, taking positions which were out of the mainstream with many Republicans.

Rand Paul's position sounded like a compromise between his father's position and the views of other Republicans.

"We often have sort of two polar extremes and really just one for the most part, that we're everywhere all of the time," he said on CNN. "The other extreme is that we'd be nowhere any of the time and that would be isolationism."

A more realistic approach, he said, would "involve active policies such as containment" but would not be "the standard approach of having 100,000 troops in countries is really the approach that we need."

The senator offered a broad prescription for handling radical Islam around the world based on that containment model. He argued that with or without Western involvement in the Middle East, the United States would face threats from that region.

"I don't agree that absent Western occupation, that radical Islam goes quietly into that good night," he said.

He said the United States is not discussing rigorously enough the suspected Iranian nuclear program, which he said "appears to have less debate in this country than it receives in Israel," which would be threatened by such a program.

Paul called for more diplomacy to work towards a solution and said the U.S. should not show its hand – retain what he called "strategic ambiguity" – as far as what Iranian steps would trigger a U.S. military response.

Paul, elected to the Senate in 2010, has acknowledged that he is interested in a potential run for the White House in 2016.


Filed under: Foreign Policy • Rand Paul
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    He's inherited the job of Libertarian-wacko-running-and-losing-the-Presidency. Like his dad, half of what he says makes sense and the rest is nuttier than squirrel droppings.

    February 6, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  2. Tony in Maine

    Randy's foreign policy, somewhere south of Pluto – or is it Goofy?

    February 6, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Rand Paul carves out own space on foreign policy?

    Sounds like Rand is carving with his Aqua Buddha !
    I'd also like to remind the moronic Senator that the Greatest heavy weight champion of the world came from Kentucky ,
    Muhammad Ali !

    Will it be Rubio / Paul 2016 or Paul / Rubio 2016 ?

    February 6, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I am happy that Paul isn't looking for a military response. The thing is that I don't think he really understands the ramifications. He sounds like a Neo-con who doesn't really forsee what is going to happen or care.

    February 6, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  5. nothing new here

    There is no need for all these expense military interventions. The only real military threat to this nation is extremist Islamists, and we don't need any more religious extremists invading our land. Goodness knows we have enough homegrown religious zealots here in the U.S.
    BTW, how about ending the stupid war on marijuana as well.

    February 6, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  6. Squigman

    What good did this action of (carving out own space), accomplish. Ans: Absolutely nothing.

    February 6, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  7. Hugh Mann

    Rand Paul is a dangerous man,,,mostly because of his ridiculous assertions and reckless partisanship.
    He shows himself to be a selfish, narrow-minded ignoramous,,,but, maybe, that's just the kind of people he represents

    February 6, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  8. norma jean

    I'd like to know what part of his life as a United States senator has been in a position that allows him to think he knows so much about foreign policy......He never seems to doubt his knowledge but it must be just his opinion because he hasn't had a political position to enable him to criticize our official policies....

    February 6, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  9. plain&simple

    God bless the USA and keep us safe from Paul Rand!!!

    February 7, 2013 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  10. Steve

    Rands speech sounds like a lot of nothing to me.

    February 7, 2013 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  11. Howard's Daddy

    His foreign policy is inconsistent to say the least. It flip-flops more than Romney, but at least Mitt has mileage.

    February 7, 2013 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  12. Name Kevin

    This little racist troll knows nothing about foreign policy, he is as nutty as his father.

    February 7, 2013 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    I have no idea what he would ACTUALLY do in the reality of the current geo political environment.
    He achieved zilch with this waffle for me in trying to enhance his credentials for whatever??
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    February 7, 2013 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  14. Marie MD

    LOL! Maybe he should first work on a real doctorate degree.
    You can part the sea you are NOT going to be president!!

    February 7, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  15. Bob

    The smarter voters in KY need to send this NUT to a mental hospital, where he can "carve out" all the space in any of its wards.

    February 7, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  16. g

    the space between his ear,s should be examined

    February 7, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  17. Name lynn

    paul you have issues, an you have your hands full with them white house leaders. If obama have problems with the about the budget cuts, immmigrations, and gun laws who are you, or right stupid.

    February 7, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  18. JeffersonLives

    I watched his speech and it was the most rational approach I have heard in a long time, it's about time someone brought some common sense to this debate. This is a guy I could get behind in 2016.

    February 7, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  19. Marry

    Rand Paul – an intellectual midget in domestic and foreign policy! Nothing to see here – we can move on!

    February 7, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Do I sense battles being drawn among conservatives? The Republican Party has its' business wing, a christian wing, and what I would call the "Johnson Wing", those who jumped ship to the Republican Party after Pres. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Republicans do want to repeat the clown show that was their 2012 field of candidates.

    I think each wing is grooming their own champion so that there would be a smaller field. A smaller field would naturally imply a lesser need for the 20 or more debates that were conducted in 2011 and 2012. Rand Paul seems to be the leading candidate for the Johnson wing. Marco Rubio seems to be the leading choice for the business wing. This leaves the christian wing without and obvious front runner, but I think Rick Santorum is gunning for that slot. In other words, Republicans are going to reward themselves with another unelectable candidate for POTUS.

    February 7, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  21. Larry L

    The last thing on Earth the US needs is an isolationist leader. The World is economically, socially, and environmentally connected. Those who believe we can exist in some on sort of utopian island of self-dependence forget the complexity of the situation. We must deal with energy shortages, world trade imbalance, global climate change, refugees, emerging disease, trans-national terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and a rapidly growing food shortage. The US must leverage our allies, manipulate our enemies and maintain a seat at the adult's table.

    February 7, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  22. actionjacks7

    The Jews and Israel are the real problems, not the Palestinians and Arabs.

    February 7, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  23. Natalie

    This wack job needs to go away. The GOP needs to wake up and see what these right wing idiots are doing to their party. The far left is also out of line. We need moderates voted in who will be willing to compromise and work together for what is best for the country, not their own personal agendas.

    February 7, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  24. rs

    Does he have a map yet? Can he find ANYTHING aside from Israel?

    February 7, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |