Rand Paul Mainstreams Non-Interventionism

The junior senator takes a radically different foreign policy vision into the heart of the GOP.

To see how far Rand Paul has gotten in his project to inject libertarianism into a GOP foreign policy debate long dominated by neoconservatives and other interventionists, think back to what official Republicanism looked like only 27 months ago.

Then, just one month before a new and different-sounding Tea Party wave of freshmen politicians (including Paul) flooded into Capitol Hill talking about cutting rather than limiting the growth of government, Weekly Standard founder William Kristol, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, and Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to fire a shot across the whippersnappers' bow: Don't you even think about cutting defense, kids.

The military "is neither the true source of our fiscal woes, nor an appropriate target for indiscriminate budget-slashing in a still-dangerous world," the Three Amigos of the Establishment wrote. "Anyone seeking to restore our fiscal health should look at entitlements first, not across-the-board cuts aimed at our men and women in uniform."

Even as recently as 10 months ago, Feulner et al were keeping House Republicans in line by praising the proposed budget of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) for its "partial restoration of national defense as the No. 1 priority of the federal government." While "many would like to see American military spending restored more rapidly," they wrote, "Ryan's budget is a choice about our future, and this is a time to choose—not hide behind the sequestration process."

Fast-forward to February 2013, and even Paul Ryan is saying "the sequester is happening," which means that the defense budget will likely take a $55 billion (or 9 percent) cut by the end of this month.

And Rand Paul? He's giving a major speech on "restoring the Founders' vision of foreign policy" tomorrow at Ed Feulner's old stomping grounds, the Heritage Foundation. Which is now headed up by Rand Paul's good friend Jim DeMint, the recently resigned senator from South Carolina who has lately been talking a lot about pruning back America's overseas commitments while saying nice things about Rand's Establishment-reviled father Ron.

That the Republican and national conversations have shifted so much in such a short time is partly a testament to both Pauls, and their often-lonely long game of re-introducing skepticism about America's forward thrust into the world and re-tethering the commander in chief to the Constitution. But where Ron Paul breaks through the soft interventionist consensus with bracing and sometimes abrasive blasts of convention-defying, anti-imperial purism—witness his Tweet yesterday about murdered Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle dying "by the sword"—Rand Paul (who reacted to Kyle's killing by telling Breitbart.com that "Chris Kyle was a hero like all Americans who don the uniform to defend our country") has figured out a way to sell anti-neoconservative ideas to audiences allergic to his father.  

What will that approach look like in practice tomorrow at Heritage? Going by a pre-speech interview with The American Conservative's Daniel Larison, Paul's foreign policy vision will focus less on the "blowback" his father constantly warns about, and more on the "process" of restoring congressional participation in the constitutional balance of power over military affairs. Instead of getting to the immediate "no" on interventionism abroad, whether in Mali or Syria or Iran, this focus on congressional oversight allows Paul to work more slowly toward the same likely conclusion, while allowing for coalition building and stressing a certain epistemological humility.

"If you get to that, then you'll get to the facts ultimately," he told Larison. "It's hard to always comment on every set of facts in the world, particularly if we're not engaged in the debate."

Some of Ron Paul's biggest fans detect in such words a worrying openness to intervention, and willingness to play ball with the same neoconservative establishment Rand railed against in his first book. This suspicion is only heightened when he utters such crowd-pleasing silliness as "any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States."

But 27 months ago, there was no Republican in the United States Senate proposing to repeal the notorious 9/14 authorization of force that has in effect given the president a blank check to send assassination drones all over the globe. Few senators of either party spend so much time tilting at the windmill of Fourth Amendment restoration in an age of ubiquitous government spying. In an era when it's never been easier for disgruntled citizens to route around legislators who ignore their wishes, Rand Paul stands uniquely positioned to exploit the vast gap between America's instinctive foreign policy modesty and its governing consensus to the contrary.

"I've been one of the few Republicans who have supported coming home from Afghanistan," Paul told Larison, "and it's actually been remarkable how opinions have changed not only in the country, but in the Republican Party. Four years ago or three years ago even, you had Republicans talking about staying forever. You still have some, but you had many talking about staying forever and many saying that if you believed in any timeline for coming home you were a cut-and-run coward....I think it's remarkable that even many of those Republicans have given up on that."

The new wave of Republican non-interventionists is still massively outnumbered by the old guard. Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) brought out some of the longest knives in the GOP's confirmation ambush of squishy foreign-policy realist and occasional Israel critic Chuck Hagel, calling into question Rand's hopeful insistence that the Tea Party's "stated principles prevent it from being brought into the neoconservative fold." The sequester may yet be pushed back again.

But by insinuating himself successfully into the heart of the GOP, Rand Paul is doing more than mainstreaming libertarian-flavored foreign policy: He is forcing the purist, and therefore theoretical, instincts of his father's coalition to come into contact with the messy business of broad political persuasion. He will lose those along the way who prefer to lob rhetorical anti-imperial grenades from the margins. But he—and the country—stand to gain a whole lot more.

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  • sarcasmic||

    What's with that picture? It makes him look like he's giving a speak from the bowels of Hell! I expect to see fire and coals a glowing, and some sentry with a pitchfork mulling about in the background!

  • sarcasmic||

    *speech*

  • Matt Welch||

    Well, it IS at the Republican National Convention.....

  • sarcasmic||

    Gotcha.

  • Brett L||

    I think that was the convention. Same difference.

  • Brett L||

    Welch cheated to get his in first!

  • Cytotoxic||

    HOW DARE HE BE SUCCESSFUL. /paultard

    It's great the Rand is using the movement his father built but nearly squandered.

    WTF is 'realist' about Hagel? There is nothing 'realist' about mushy 'moderate' foreign policy and his criticism of Israel in particular.

  • robc||

    nearly squandered?

    He built it every year thru his last year in congress. How is that nearly squandered?

  • tarran||

    You're talking to a guy who claims the Shah of Iran was popular: when the truth gets in the way of Cyto's narrative, he chooses not to use it. ;)

  • Cytotoxic||

    The Shah of Iran was popular when he first rode to power on a wave of street protest. LOL way to project yourself on me.

  • tarran||

    He was so popular he fled crying to Jordan when the coup looked like it wa going to fail Cyto.

    You really need to start reading good history books instead of only reading things approved by your imams. Otherwise, you will be nothing more than a savage foot-soldier in a pathetic barbaric cult.

  • tarran||

    crap edit fail: s/savage/ignorant

  • Cytotoxic||

    He then came back shortly after and rode to power on the back of people power.

    You really to shut the fuck up and actually learn some facts instead of repeating CULT like the pompous vacuous ass you are.

  • Calidissident||

    The CIA and MI6 hired mobsters and thugs to orchestrate riots. The shah was not put back (and let's not even mention how he maintained power) by the masses rising up to restore rule by the will of the people. What is it about foreign policy that makes you such a bootlicker?

  • tarran||

    Lies! Lies! Ayn Rand will punish you for your heresy!

  • crashland||

    So they traded in their shah for some mullahs and a monkey, that worked out well.

  • Brandon||

    Really, Cyto? "I'm rubber you're glue?"

  • Cytotoxic||

    Tarran has seriously stated that since the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi, the attack did not originate from Afghanistan. There is no distortion he won't peddle for his Faith.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Since it originated from the bowels of the Project for a New American Century, then, no, it didn't originate from Afghanistan.

  • Cytotoxic||

    He built it AND nearly squandered it. His run for nominee was punctuated by self-sabotage every 40 min. See 'newsletterzz'

  • CE||

    He wasn't publishing them during the primaries, you know.

  • Cytotoxic||

    No just after he got elected. Oh, and then he refused to say who wrote those newsletters. DUMB.

  • Chris Mallory||

    Putting America first and actually talking to Iran is very realist. His criticism of Israel doesn't go far enough, but neither does Rand's.

  • Cytotoxic||

    FOAD JOO hater

  • RyanXXX||

    Which makes you an Arab hater, I suppose

  • MSimon||

    Just the radical ones and their silent supporters.

  • BarryD||

    Hagel showed himself to be nothing but a dumbass.

    He may have stumbled on the right ideas now and again, but not on purpose.

  • tarran||

    The thought has occurred to me that Ron and Rand are playing a good cop/bad cop game. Or perhaps like Scott Scheule's plot to sell anarchism by creating an even more extreme philosophy, anarcho-blow-up-the-moonism, that would make anarchism be the moderate position.

  • pmains||

    Mr. Show did a mini-documentary about that. I don't think that was the real Toby Keith, though.

  • pmains||

    In all seriousness, I would like to see a link laying out Scheule's anti-moon anarchist plan. I can't bring up anything about it on the Google.

  • tarran||

    It was on Catalarchy, which was replaced by the now defunct Distributed Republic website.

    I don't think it's in the way back machine either.

    It went something like this (paraphrasing heavily, obviously):

    I am tired of being painted as an extremist. What we need to do is establish a philosophy that is so extremist that garden variety anarchism sounds like a reasonable compromise between it and statism. So I propose a new philosophy, anarcho-blow-up-the-moonism. These people not only want anarchy, they want to blow up the freaking moon. And then they will call out the fence sitters as gutless cowards; "either you support blowing up the moon, or you are a statist!"

    It was a thing of beauty. My memory doesn't do it justice.

  • gaoxiaen||

    It might help stop global warming if we completely pulverize it.

  • MSimon||

    I think Saturn would be a better target.

  • entropy||

    I don't know. But I do know that the moon has no budget deficit and no immigration restrictions, and if we blow it up, it will only create more terrorists. I think we should surrender.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Not really. When Ron Paul was the guy selling non-interventionist foreign policy, a lot of people pointed out that you didn't need "blowback" to get to non-interventionism and that "blowback" was perhaps the worst possible means of marketing foreign policy non-intervention to Republicans. Republicans like to think Americans are better than the rest of the world. Democrats like to think they're better than the rest of America. How well do you think "blowback" is going to play with the former, as opposed to the latter?

  • iggy||

    I like the term 'indiscriminate' when talking about military budget cutting. Apparently, it's impossible to differentiate between military spending that actually makes us safer and military spending that primarily serves as a make work program for people in the defense industry.

    Any cut to military spending must be indiscriminate! We must spend infinite dollars on the military!

  • entropy||

    Well, we should hope it would be indiscriminate. If you give them the ability to discriminate, they will cut the stuff that makes us safer to save the phoney jerbs.

    They have priorities you know.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The good news is that even the WSJ is getting resigned to military cuts. They ran an article behind the pay wall about the need to make sure that force structure isn't preserved at massive cost to combat units, which is fair.

  • R C Dean||

    When was the last time we had a real serious debate about just what exactly it is our military's mission was, in principle?

    You can't even begin to talk about budgetting and resources without knowing what the organization is supposed to be doing. Let's hope that's what Rand is going to talk about.

  • ||

    When was the last time we had a real serious debate about just what exactly it is our military's mission was, in principle?

    JOBS JOBS JOBS

  • Tim||

    Jobs?

  • Brett L||

    That made me think of Michelle Jenneke. Not that I need much excuse.

  • ||

    I recently had what I thought was a brilliant idea to cast her as Cheetara in a Thundercats movie

  • ||

    Hulk Hogan as Mumm-Ra. I don't even think you'd need makeup

  • BarryD||

    JERBS!

  • entropy||

    But remember, the GOP rejects Keynesianism.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Get it right...

    Jerbz!

  • ||

    ^^^^
    THIS

  • Cytotoxic||

    Thissity this.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Why do you hate our troops?

  • Not a Libertarian||

    That the Republican and national conversations have shifted so much in such a short time is partly a testament to both Pauls, and their often-lonely long game of re-introducing skepticism about America's forward thrust into the world and re-tethering the commander in chief to the Constitution.

    Might not a skeptic or liberal (or liberal skeptic) say that the Republican conversation has shifted "so much" in such a short time largely as a testament to a "Black Semi-Socialist" in the White House?

  • iggy||

    Two thoughts:

    1. There are no liberal skeptics. Anyone who claims to be a liberal skeptic will fall back on dogma the instant someone talks about policy changes that effect their sacred cows.

    2. I actually do think part of the reason Republicans have shifted is that Obama's in the White House. There are some principled non-interventionists out there, but most politicians just care that their guy has his hand on the button. If a Republican were in office, Republicans would be shaking their fists in favor of worldwide military intervention and Democrats would be talking about how evil drone strikes are. The opinions of the two major parties are based entirely on who is in power.

  • sarcasmic||

    The opinions of the two major parties are based entirely on who is in power.

    Yup.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Meh, yes and no. No doubt a lot of the Republican rhetoric is now due to Obama being in the White House. That said, the rhetoric is showing some signs of taking on a life of its own. Partly, its due to better marketing than "blowback" to appeal within Republican ranks.

  • sarcasmic||

    ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH OBAMA IS RACIST!

    DERP DEE DERPITY DERP!

  • SugarFree||

    I read it as NAL pointing out that the GOP repositioning isn't a shift in principles, but expediency.

    Once they get back in power, the establishment Republicans will shut all this nonsense down.

  • Tim||

    beeska chata wnow kong bantha poodoo.

  • Not a Libertarian||

    Well apparently no Reason HitandRun thread is complete without lines from episodes IV, V or VI
    :-)

  • Loki||

    Coonta toota, Solo?

  • gaoxiaen||

    Fuckin' Moonies. You can't use Moonish on this site. That's one reason we're going to blast you out of the sky. And Korea, too.

  • Not a Libertarian||

    This was exactly my obviously ill written point. (I am cursed to attempt to make a statement in five rambling sentences that one could otherwise make in one clear declarative sentence.)

    However from a practical matter does it matter what politicians say (or more importantly do) as a matter of expediency rather than conviction?

    If circumstances were somehow contrived that the President were to announce a 5% reduction in the Federal payroll in the State of the Union address, should not he be lauded, rather than dismissed as not what is "truly in his heart"?

  • Sudden||

    "Anyone seeking to restore our fiscal health should look at entitlements first, not across-the-board cuts aimed at our men and women in uniform."

    One must love the utterly predictable false choices. To which I say, cut both.

  • iggy||

    Also, apparently military cuts are 'aimed at our men and women in uniform.' This is the same ridiculous, cheap word usage generally used by liberals when they claim that any entitlement cut will cause children to starve to death in the streets.

  • ||

    Yes, cut both, absolutely.

    But there is a fragment of truth in there. National defense IS a legitimate function of government. Not sure when funding someone's retirement or healthcare came to be. From a standpoint of which should go first, the answer is pretty obvious to me.

    But as RC says above, the discussion of what it is you want your military to do should come before deciding the correct funding level. This hasn't happened in a long time.

  • Sudden||

    I wholly agree with that analysis. And I'm not opposed to us maintaining the most superior military force on the planet. In fact, I think it prudent. But I'm sure we both recognize that such can be done at a fraction of what we currently spend on the military.

    And yes, entitlements should be the first to be cut. Sadly, the majoritarian nature of them makes that a politically difficult sell.

  • CE||

    Defend the coasts and the airspace over the USA. Maintain an army command structure sufficient to call up the reserves in event of invasion or imminent invasion of the USA.

  • Sudden||

    I do think there is an argument to be made for significant technical superiority and for a robust naval fleet. Ultimately, we are the world's hegemon for the time being (and will remain so until our total economic collapse which is all but assured given the political realities of the welfare state) and as such should have the force strength to defend it and even project ourselves should a reason arise to do so. Without having undertaken any sort of technical review, I think we could maintain such capacity at around half of what we currently spend (a figure that I wholly acknowledge is completely pulled from my ass).

  • BarryD||

    Also, maintain a robust nuclear arsenal and develop anti-missile systems.

    A "don't fuck with us" policy, combined with "you can't destroy us without invading us", would work wonders.

    WTF is a Superpower doing, messing with house-to-house fighting for 10 years in some backwards shitholes?

    Seriously.

    A healthy dose of "we can't fix all the world's problems with bullets, so we won't try" would be good, as well.

    Defense is vital.

    Which of our military actions in the past quarter century are defensive? And I'm not talking about why we WENT to Afghanistan, necessarily. I want to know WTF we're still doing there.

  • crashland||

    Hell yes, we've got a substantial moat protecting our coasts. If an invasion is on the way, we'll know about it.

    What power hungry president can resist the temptation to play war with our professional standing army? Not even the fuck head nobel laureate in the wh can resist the urge to bomb the shit out of people. No wonder those dead white guys who scratched out some shit on some paper all those years ago, didn't want us to have a standing army.

    So maintain a cadre of pros, keep our airspace controlled, keep naval superiority, keep our nukes and mind our own business.

    Let's close every foreign base. Every. single. one. "Bring the boys back home." Oh, and the girls too...

    Sadly this will never happen.

  • Libertarius||

    Close the ground bases and build huge naval carriers to act as floating drone warehouses. These drones are a good thing; they will allow us to stop wasting ungodly amounts of money supporting standing (human) armies all over the world.

    Henry Hazlitt FTW!

  • ||

    Rand Paul (who reacted to Kyle's killing by telling Breitbart.com that "Chris Kyle was a hero like all Americans who don the uniform to defend our country")

    I wish Rand didn't go complete opposite of his father on this one, but that's not too big of a deal. I wish we could move past, however, this idea that ANYONE who dons a uniform is a hero. Especially a fucking sniper. He did his job, and he did it well. But racking up kills as a sniper to me seems the opposite of heroic (disclaimer: I'm not fully aware of every mission he was on, so he may have been heroic at times).

    A uniform does not a hero make.

  • Sudden||

    The hero worship of veterans is mind-numbingly stupid. By no means would I suggest a return to Vietnam era treatment of returning servicemen, but FFS, can't this goddamn population find a balance where they look at a returning soldier and say: you did your job, I may not have approved of the mission you were tasked with, and I won't dote upon you with hero-worship because you did your job voluntarily for a compensation that you deemed appropriate, but I won't resent you for doing what you were ordered to do.

  • Cytotoxic||

    This.

  • Fluffy||

    I think the problem is the cultural values of the southern middle class (the backbone of the military worshipping element) are just so difficult for me to accept without puking.

    The southern middle class is maudlin, and hokey, and determined to take any genuine sentiment it stumbles across and run it into the ground.

    You could easily get me to buy into a system of privilege and honor for veterans if it didn't involve endless invocations of moments of silence and endless jet flyovers and "I'm Proud to Be an American" endlessly poured over loudspeakers and crowds of people waving little plastic flags and badly overwritten and purple references to veterans ritualistically jammed into every public event.

    If you want to get me, you have to do it with deliberate understatement and an extremely spare and Spartan material culture, and America just doesn't do that any more.

  • Ted S.||

    You could easily get me to buy into a system of privilege and honor for veterans if it didn't involve endless invocations of moments of silence and endless jet flyovers and "I'm Proud to Be an American" endlessly poured over loudspeakers and crowds of people waving little plastic flags and badly overwritten and purple references to veterans ritualistically jammed into every public event.

    Couple that with the bullying that ensues if you suggest you don't like such stuff.

    I reach for the remote every time a baseball game hits the seventhing inning stretch because I'm so repulsed by the singing of "God Bless America".

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Same for cops, fire and "first responders". Its just a reasonable sense of proportion that is called for.

    If I ever wanted to someone to pat me on the head over being in combat, I'd go to the VFW hall and buy a beer for the house.

  • BarryD||

    Firefighters get to work a few days here and there, chase tail, and retire young with fat pensions and often with lucrative businesses they've had plenty of time to start, on the side. Can't blame anyone for wanting that job. Not sure how that makes anyone automatically a hero, though.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    A fireman friend of mine gets 3 MONTHS off, WITH PAY, because HIS WIFE, who is a government school teacher, is having a baby.

    Between the two of them, we will be paying for 9 months of salary while they sit home and cuddle their little one.

  • Ted S.||

    Forgive me for repeating a story I've mentioned here, but last Veterans' Day on another board, somebody started a thread that was basically hero worship of veterans. So I told them I'd be honoring my father, who had 18 months stolen from his life, months he spent at White Sands Missile Range keeping the missiles from being stolen by the Ernst Stavro Blofelds of the world.

    The bootlickers were unsurprisingly aghast. And then I had the audacity to tell them people might not like being drafted.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, the explanation is fairly simple. The military, to the rest of us, looks like the one element of the U.S. government that is even remotely competent. Add on to that the fact that the military is the one element of the government that demonstrates some modicum of respect for the notion of constitutional restraint. Put those two together and it's really not that hard to understand.

  • Brett L||

    No more heroic than Charles Whitman on balance.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Why the anti-sniper bias? Their work takes incredible skill and concentration. So cool!

  • R C Dean||

    Depends on the mission.

    Snipers are generally pretty much on their own, typically with a single spotter. And they generally become the number one priority for any opponent to get rid of.

    No idea what the casualty rates are for snipers, but if you're playing a "scout" sniper role, you are somewhere past the pointy tip of the spear.

  • Fluffy||

    I haven't read his book or anything, but it strikes me that in a situation where you're fighting an insurgency, a sniper's job will be to hide in a hole and shoot anybody he thinks looks like an insurgent.

    "See that guy walking down a highway in his own country carrying a box? That box might have an IED in it. BANG! See my head shot there? That gets me another confirmed kill. Man, I am so going to love getting a book deal to talk about all my great head shots!"

  • Drake||

    Listen to the link below. That isn't the way it worked at all.

    He talks about the shots he didn't take because there was any doubt.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Quiet. Your appeal to reality will upset the peacenik bigots.

  • ||

    this word "bigot" I don't think you or Dunphy know what it means.

  • Fluffy||

    You seriously just tried to get me to listen to Opie and Anthony?

    WTF dude?

  • Drake||

    Gee wiz mister, I didn't realize how sensitive some of the commenters are here.

  • Fluffy||

    Doubt to whom, by the way?

    "Sometimes I decide to let a guy wearing civilian clothes walking down a highway in his own country carrying a box live. When I get, you know, a feeling. That just goes to show you how great a guy I am."

  • Drake||

    His specific example was a kid delivering an RPG to a house.

  • CE||

    He won 2 silver stars and 5 bronze stars, so apparently it wasn't all just sitting back and lining up targets.

  • Drake||

    I don't get it either. He saved a lot of American and allies. He was a very humble and likable gut from what I heard.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBJWI0UBwWU

  • Drake||

    Oh yeah - he also punched Jesse Ventura in the face. What's not to like?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Should have gotten another medal for that one.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Fuck you. Ventura's a hero, Kyle, a POS. Read his book (but don't buy it) and he'll tell about how Iraqis are savages, that when they defended their country showed cowardice, etc. And he never punched Ventura, just slanders him and says he did.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Oh. And Ventura's a hero not for his time in uniform, he'll be the first to disparage what he accomplished there, but for his work exposing the corruption of the various gangs in power.

  • BarryD||

    Right. He WAS a hero.

    Doesn't make everyone who ever donned a uniform, a hero -- even though I have to say I am glad people are willing to do it.

  • Almanian.||

    whatever

  • Tim||

    Take your trolling somewhere else.

  • CE||

    Dang it... his 2016 primary chances were looking so good with Christie pulling a Bar Rafaeli-meets-Walter on Obama, Rubio pushing for amnesty, and Ryan caving in on the fiscal cliff.... now Rand has to remind the voters why they didn't like his father...

  • Drake||

    Seems redundant since Ron is doing a great job of that himself.

  • Lord Peter Wimsey||

    "Seems redundant since Ron is doing a great job of that himself."

    Yes, The Great and Powerful Ron Paul should consider shutting up for a while. I know that's sacrilegious, but it's true. I think Rand Paul is doing a good job. It'll be interesting to see if libertarian pacifists can bring him down. They'll try. They only get off on defeat.

  • Lyle||

    Fuck non-intervention and neo-conservatism... Libertarians should just back liberty whenever and wherever.

  • crashland||

    Backing liberty by supplying arms to the people struggling to gain it, no problem. Pour out endless rivers of blood to help them? No fucking way.

  • Lyle||

    Yes way if need be, particularly if they can't do it themselves and need some help.

  • Sevo||

    No way.
    Sorry, not my job.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    But how are you "backing liberty" by spending fortunes from our treasury, taken by coercion, and sending our young men and women to risk death, to support the cause of other people?

  • Lyle||

    Spending tax dollars and sending our citizens to fight is actually what is required to back liberty here in the United States. So ipso facto that is what might be required somewhere else on the planet.

  • Calidissident||

    "Spending tax dollars and sending our citizens to fight is actually what is required to back liberty here in the United States."

    What?

    "So ipso facto that is what might be required somewhere else on the planet."

    It is not the responsibility (moral, legal, or otherwise) of the US government to bring liberty to the rest of the world

  • Bill Dalasio||

    How does significantly increasing government spending, putting the country on a pro-government war footing and creating a messianic mission for the state "back liberty here in the United States"?

  • Ben1234||

    It is funny how the right is (very) slowly moving away from hard-core interventionism at the same time that the left seems to have forgotten they were ever upset about Iraq or Afghanistan, support Obama in whatever he does (assassination by drone), and act like Cindy Sheehan never existed.

    I guess it really all does depend on who is in the White House. Not because of what he/she does, but because of how others change their "principles" depending on if it's their guy or the other guy who won.

  • David Emami||

    ... inject libertarianism into a GOP foreign policy debate...

    ... mainstreaming libertarian-flavored foreign policy...

    Can the Reason editors please stop conflating "non-interventionist foreign policy" with "libertarian foreign policy"? Obviously you can advocate something all you like, but stop trying expand its name beyond what it actually is.

    ... bracing and sometimes abrasive blasts of convention-defying, anti-imperial purism...

    ... lob rhetorical anti-imperial grenades...

    Thankfully Reason hasn't jumped the shark yet, but every so often the staff seems compelled to do a little work on the ramp. The things the non-interventionists are most vocal about are "imperial" only in the minds of folks like Chomsky, Vidal, Zinn, and Rothbard. Oddly enough, I have yet to hear the staff describe as "imperial" those times the US actually does deliberately violate the rights of folks outside the US -- drug eradication being the major example that occurs to me. I know they oppose the policy, but they haven't, to my knowledge, called it imperialism. A coca farmer in South America whose crop has been destroyed can validly claim to be a victim of US aggression. A jihadist in the Middle East or Africa who has been stopped from oppressing the local non-believers has no such claim, whether or not you think stopping him is prudent policy.

  • JeremyR||

    Bear in mind, Libertarians (and this place) still gets worked up over US involvement in WW2.

    There's very a blind spot in their thinking how problems will magically cease to exist if we ignore them.

    We're certainly probably made things worse in the Middle East, but at the same time Jihadists are driven by the goal of bringing Islam to the entire world by sword if they have to. They might be upset over Israel, but their main grievance is that the whole world isn't Muslim.

  • JeremyR||

    With that said though, I think we can certainly question the tactics being used.

    It's one thing to send soldiers to kill a wanted terrorist. It's another to use a drone to blow up his house (and the neighborhood), and then blow up the people responding to the initial explosion.

  • David Emami||

    I'm all for being cautious about it, and taking great care that innocent people aren't hurt or killed. My beef is with the Jean Luc Picard libertarians, who apparently think intervention as such violates some sort of Prime Directive, and who claim or imply that their view is the libertarian one.

    I think Ayn Rand has it right: "Anyone who wants to invade a dictatorship or semi-dictatorship is morally justified in doing so." Note, "justified", not "obligated." We have no duty to do it. We're justified only in overthrowing, not conquering and annexing. And (sorry, Mr. Peikoff) we can't lump the dictated-to in with the dictators. But if it's in our interest and we have the means to do so, there is nothing unlibertarian (as opposed to un-Rothbardian) per se about intervention.

  • Calidissident||

    "I think Ayn Rand has it right: "Anyone who wants to invade a dictatorship or semi-dictatorship is morally justified in doing so." Note, "justified", not "obligated." We have no duty to do it. We're justified only in overthrowing, not conquering and annexing. And (sorry, Mr. Peikoff) we can't lump the dictated-to in with the dictators. But if it's in our interest and we have the means to do so, there is nothing unlibertarian (as opposed to un-Rothbardian) per se about intervention."

    Unless we're talking about a force that is financed purely through voluntary means, overthrowing that dictatorship requires forcibly taxing the populace of the invading country, and therefore, unless the dictatorship is a national security threat that has aggressed against the invading country, invasion is not justified on libertarian grounds.

  • David Emami||

    Unless we're talking about a force that is financed purely through voluntary means, overthrowing that dictatorship requires forcibly taxing the populace of the invading country

    Defending a country from invasion is financed by the exact same means. I'd rather it wasn't, but this isn't an intervention/non-intervention distinction.

    unless the dictatorship is a national security threat that has aggressed against the invading country, invasion is not justified on libertarian grounds.

    Question-begging on your part. As I said, if being financed by taxes makes it unlibertarian, then currently, driving out an invasion wouldn't be justified on libertarian grounds. Otherwise, the dictator has already aggressed against the people he's ruling. If party A initiates force against party B, then any party C may (but is not obligated to) use force against party A.

    Per libertarianism, the job of the military is to protect citizen's rights against violation. If we decide that having fewer dictorships in the world will make us safer against such violations, there is nothing unlibertarian about pursuing that course. It may be a bad idea with horrible consequences, but it's no more a libertarian question than what sort of military equipment we'd use to defend against an invasion.

  • Moridin||

    "War is hell."

    Yeah, said an American war criminal.

  • Kolohe||

    Was this written before Hagel's confirmation hearings? Because Senator Paul was almost being neo-cony during those. (for that matter, during the Clinton Benghazi hearings too)

    (and "...Paul recently declared that we should "announce to the world ... that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States." from Gene Healy' column just before this one.)

  • Kolohe||

    oops, that is in this article, missed it the first time.

    Still, Senator Paul does not seem to be as much of a dissenting voice on the bi-partisan elite foreign policy consensus as he seemed to be when first introduced to the political stage.

  • Lord Peter Wimsey||

    Good god this is idiot! Sen. Paul is breath of fucking fresh air on neo con foreign policy. And criticizing that corrupt wind bag Hilary Clinton for failing to do THE ONE FUCKING CONSTITUTIONALLY AUTHORIZED thing she had to do is not being "neo-cony" for fuck's sake.

    And Rand Paul DID NOT say we'll put boots on the ground if someone invades Israel, only that we'll back her, which is reasonable, unless you've still got the taste of Arafat's balls in your mouth.

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    Eva. I agree that Eric`s blurb is impossible, on monday I bought a gorgeous audi when I got my check for $8011 this-last/4 weeks and just over ten k last munth. with-out a doubt this is the most-financialy rewarding I've had. I began this 3 months ago and pretty much straight away started to earn at least $76... per-hour. I follow this website,, http://xurl.es/tt3nh

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    Nicest chat and chat Iraqi entertaining Adject all over the world
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