As we have been chronicling at Reason for a while now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has positioned himself as both a rising star in the Republican Party and a trenchant critic of its most freedom-harshing policies. The latest example comes in this Paul column at CNN Opinion bashing Mitt Romney's foreign policy speech from earlier this week. Excerpt:

Romney chose to criticize President Obama for seeking to cut a bloated Defense Department and for not being bellicose enough in the Middle East, two assertions with which I cannot agree.

Defense and war spending has grown 137% since 2001. That kind of growth is not sustainable. [...]

In North Africa and the Middle East, our problem has not been a lack of intervention. In the past 10 years we have fought two full wars there, and bombed or sent troops into several others. [...]

This "act first, think later" foreign policy has real consequences. We've seen our embassies and consulates stormed in more than one country. Our diplomats and security team were killed. Our flag is being burned, our country mocked.

The proper response to this would be to step back and think of whether we really need to be involved in these countries in the way we have been. Instead, both parties rush headlong into more places they don't understand, exemplified Monday by Romney urging action to arm Syrian rebels and topple President Bashar al-Assad. [...]

We owe it to ourselves, our soldiers and our children to take a more careful look at our foreign policy, to not rush into war, and to not attempt to score political points with wrongheaded policy ideas.

Two related bits from me: "American Exceptionalism Routs Paul Family's Foreign Policy," and "Four More Years of War." And here's a Reason.tv piece from the Republican National Convention: "Ron Paul's RNC Speech and the Future of the Republican Party."