Rand Paul

Rand Paul: Some in GOP 'Stuck in the Cold War Era'

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Credit: Gage Skidmore / Foter / CC BY-SA

The ongoing unrest in Ukraine has highlighted another difference of opinion between Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and some of his Republican colleagues when it comes to foreign policy.

Paul, one of the Republican Party's most prominent non-interventionists, split with some in his party when he opposed the Obama administration's intervention in Libya and spoke out against strikes on the Assad regime.

While recently speaking on the situation in Ukraine, Paul warned against Republicans who still have a Cold War mentality towards Russia.

From The Washington Post:

"Some on our side are so stuck in the Cold War era that they want to tweak Russia all the time and I don't think that is a good idea," Paul said on Tuesday, in an interview with The Washington Post.

Paul's comments underscore the latest foreign-policy fissure in the GOP, where the party's libertarian wing and Republican hawks have clashed over whether Putin is a threat and the future of U.S.-Russia relations.

The Post goes on to say that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has urged President Obama to push for Ukraine to be a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

A recent CBS News/New York Times poll shows that Paul, who has not announced whether he will run for president, and Jeb Bush are top of Republicans' 2016 wish list.

I recently asked if Paul's positions on foreign policy will be heard by an indifferent American public.

Read more from Reason.com on Ukraine here.

NEXT: Should We Thank Michelle Obama for Making Kids Thinner?

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  1. The army of the enemy is stationed on the hill
    So we’ve got to bring them down here, and this is
    How we will
    Our men in the ravine (That’s this area in green)
    Will move across the valley where they plainly
    Can be seen
    And the enemy (in blue) will undoubtedly pursue
    For that’s what you depend upon an enemy to do…

  2. The Post goes on to say that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has urged President Obama to push for Ukraine to be a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

    God, will you just die already?

    1. Brilliant, because we really need to go to war with Russia over Ukraine. What a senile assnugget.

      1. When I was unemployed a few years ago I watched the Blankfein hearings by the Senate Finance Committee (I believe; it may have been some subcommittee). Three Senators stood out: Kaufman, Coburn, and McCain. The former two because they actually asked intelligent questions instead of grandstanding and making baseless assertions and the latter because he was utterly worthless, oscillating between confused and uninterested and failing to make comments that were even on topic.

        I don’t know if we dodged a bullet or missed a huge opportunity for mass schadenfreude, but I’m convinced that John McCain would have been a significantly worse President than Obama, and that’s a high bar to clear. What a clusterfuck 2008 was.

        TL,DR: “God, will you just die already?”

        1. The VC really fucked us when they sent McCain back home. Sneaky fuckers.

          1. All part of their master plan.

            1. The Master Master Plan by their Soviet Overlords.

              McCain is a plant by Putin.

        2. That illustrates a serious issue which nobody wants to talk about. Senators, congressmen, judges etc are not immune from the ravages of age. However our society pretends they are. With elected officials their party doesn’t want to sacrifice the branding that comes with the individual. McCain’s deserved war hero status is an example of that.

          And there’s also the slippery slope / CYA dynamic. Nobody wants to admit that their boss has gone a little funny, but by the time it becomes obvious to everyone that they’re round the bend they’ve been carrying out their duties for years in reduced capacity.

      2. Didn’t we see this movie already with Georgia?

        Best thing to come out of that was the death of Friedman’s dipshit McDonalds theory.

      3. I don’t think senility enters into it. I think McCain’s just an asshole.

    2. Let’s make everyone a member of NATO! That’ll solve everything! Except Russia, those jerks can’t join unless they provide us with a ton a super hot female Russian agents who seduce us and shit. And not even then.

      1. “Episiarch|2.26.14 @ 12:48PM|#

        Let’s make everyone a member of NATO! That’ll solve everything!

        Actually, I think that will guarantee the rapid dissolution of NATO as it increasingly has no real unified security mandate or capability.

        An interesting thought, maybe =

        the US should basically rescind the de facto ‘security blanket’ it provides Europe in order to encourage the reinvigoration of NATO as an entity independent of American support, and fostering a partner that can deal with regional threats on their own.

        ie. this would be a case for ‘dis-intervention’ in Europe because it is *in our own long term interests* to not be the primary source of all military strength providing security to such a disparate group of nations.

        I wouldn’t want Ukraine as a NATO member while the US is still the only member with a Military Force capable of *doing anything*. See what I mean? We currently live in a mono-polar security world, where there’s the US, and “everyone else”. We’d be far better off with a coherent NATO, the US, and then perhaps a third coalition (perhaps in SE Asia) to balance security risks.

        1. As someone else once once pointed out… the real role for NATO should be to transform itself into the “EU Defense Force” and end its current bullshit cold war pretend-role. Which is again why I don’t think further expansion is a good idea.

        2. ” the rapid dissolution of NATO”

          Bill Clinton already did this. NATO was basically dissolved from it’s primary purpose when Clinton dragged it into Kosovo.

          NATO was a mutual defense agreement. It’s a one shot revolver. Afghanistan pretty much demonstrated that NATO was dead.

          1. ” Afghanistan pretty much demonstrated that NATO was dead.”

            yes. Insofar as its “global” mandate was concerned, absolutely. Libya was something of a desperate effort to keep the zombie alive when it actually found something within its legitimate sphere of influence to act on.

        3. the US should basically rescind the de facto ‘security blanket’ it provides Europe in order to encourage the reinvigoration of NATO as an entity independent of American support, and fostering a partner that can deal with regional threats on their own.

          Amen!

          As it stands NATO is simply European welfare. Life is pretty good when someone else provides for your defense. You can afford all types of social programs.

        4. There is already a SEATO – South East Asia Treaty Organization. They don’t get as much press as NATO. Also many other regional ‘TO treaty organizations of which the US is a part.

          1. “There is already a SEATO – South East Asia Treaty Organization. They don’t get as much press as NATO.”

            Dissolved in 1977 after the Vietnam war.

            Also, it was basically ANZAC and a few SEA countries that were scared of commies too, e.g. Thailan

            1. Shit, that makes me feel really old. Thanks, Gilmore.

    3. What good is this big military if you’re not going to use it?

      1. It’s a deterrent, Bo. It’s so big so that we don’t have to use it to repel invaders.

        1. I was joking, McCain said something like that when he was pushing for us to rush into Syria (or was it Libya?).

          1. I got your joke – I was being sarcastic. We obviously don’t need such an enormous force to keep the US safe from invasion. Not surprised McCain would say something like that.

            1. Agree. But the correct size is not simply big enough to “keep the US safe from invasion”. There are legitimate defensive wars that require you to go abroad and defeat an enemy.

              We need to be big enough to still do that, but not so big that idiots like McCain aren’t tempted to make the military the option of first resort. It should be the absolute last.

              1. “We need to be big enough to still do that, but not so big that idiots like McCain aren’t tempted to make the military the option of first resort.”

                I do not see how any military that is big enough to go fight legitimate defensive wars abroad would not also be big enough to tempt foreign adventurers like McCain.

                1. I don’t think there’s some point between “a military is big enough to just fight defensive wars at home” and a “military big enough to go abroad.” All that depends a lot on your enemy. You’re gonna need a much bigger force (and that’s a bit of an understatement) to fight a war against Russia or China than against Belize.

                  1. Those Belizians have been looking at us awful funny lately.

                  2. That’s why you do a threat based assessment and size your force based upon that. Yes, to fight Russia or China would take a huge force, but what is the likelihood I’ll need to do that inside the next acquisition cycle? Pretty low, right now.

                    But you do need to look at the likelihood of facing Russian or Chinese threats elsewhere. That’s very likely.

                    1. “But you do need to look at the likelihood of facing Russian or Chinese threats elsewhere.”

                      I am curious as to what you are referring to here? I guess I can see having to fight abroad as part of a legitimate defensive war when we are attacked, but in what other circumstances should we ‘face Russian or Chinese threats elsewhere?’

                    2. The Chinese and the Russians (and the French) are NOTORIOUS for selling their shit to just about anybody. It is VERY likely we’ll face them even if not fighting those countries directly.

                    3. Oh, OK, that makes sense.

                2. The military is SO big now, that we can fight and not feel any pain. We can send 1/5 of our forces to go fight and it puts no strain on the system. There are still 4/5 in reserve and there are plenty to be able to cycle through, giving no incentive to get out. We are so unopposed, that they (the politicians) know, up front that there will be few casualties on our side….

                  This all lends itself to overuse.

                  1. The coming age of autonomous robotic weapons platforms would like to have a word with you about not feeling any pain and overuse.

                    1. Yeah, but they are going to save us a shit-ton of money.

                      They key to this is to adopt a policy where war is the option of absolute last resort. Somewhere we got it in our heads that it was okay to kill people who don’t do what we tell them. We have gone off the rails, morally speaking.

                      Of course, I guess you could argue we were never really on the rails… Korea, Vietnam…

  3. Well if we don’t maintain a Cold War mentality regarding Russia, how are we supposed to justify our enormous defense expenditures?

    1. TERRORISM!

      1. TERRORISM! Isn’t enough to justify aircraft carrier groups and M1 tanks, so we need to keep pretending the Cold War never ended.

        1. How about ISLAMOFASCISM!?!

          1. Now you’re talkin’, but still not quite as scary as “the Russians/Chinese are coming!!”

            1. This is the part where you sell F-16’s to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and then beg for more money for F-22 in case pan-arabic islamists do indeed take over.

                1. Dammit, that was supposed to be for Malkovich. But your comment is also meritorious, Swedish Waiter.

  4. Drudge has this: Rand Paul Is the GOP’s Early Presidential Front-Runner

    And he’s got a history of questionable associations and controversial comments that would make Democratic opposition researchers salivate. Whether it’s hiring a top aide who was a former secessionist talk-show host (and defending him amid controversy), questioning the legality of the 1964 Civil Rights Act during his Senate campaign, or facing allegations of plagiarism from past speeches, Paul’s got plenty of controversies poised to reemerge in a presidential campaign. Paul’s invocation of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky to attack Hillary Clinton in recent weeks is classic Paul?throw red meat into the fire to energize the base, regardless of the political consequences.

    At the same time, Paul has been doing more than almost any other Republican to expand the party’s appeal to nontraditional GOP voters?the type of activity that’s imperative for future success. He spoke at Howard University and historically black Simmons College in Kentucky (twice) as part of an outreach effort toward African-Americans.

  5. “Paul, one of the Republican Party’s most prominent non-interventionists, split with some in his party when he opposed the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya and spoke out against strikes on the Assad regime.”

    Just for the sake of discussion, is it not also possible there are reasons BEYOND ‘non-interventionism’ that would lead an astute foreign affairs observer to determine that staying out of Libya and Syria are in fact in our best interests?

    The frequent assumption here is that when/if a politician advocates strongly for a neutral position, or against those that would advocate use of either unilateral or multilateral military force, that they do so out of some principle of “non-intervention” – or that ‘non intervention’ is the necessary status quo position until otherwise over-ruled.

    This idea that “non-intervention” exists as an independent principle superior to ‘rational pursuit of our economic and security self-interests’ to me has yet to be demonstrated… even on paper. So far I consider it nothing but a bullshit buzzword.

    And in the event Bo shows up to engage in some bullshit pedantic dickwaving about intellectually muddying definitions of ‘interests’ = go fuck yourself, buddy.

    1. Yes yes…

      “OUR BEST INTERESTS??!= COLLECTIVISM!!”
      …just get it over with already, so you feel better.

      1. My but your nerves are touched.

        Actually, if the concept of ‘our interests’ had the intellectual coherency of ‘collectivism’ that would be an improvement.

        1. “Aha! Chin-stroking rubbing myself? Term-funging self-satisfaction! Pretentious twaddle smug face.”

          1. You must be sobering up as you’re points are starting to be a bit more coherent.

              1. Wow, talk about pedantic d*ckwaving.

      2. If you’re gonna call people out for using a bullshit buzzword, offer something more substantive than “our interests.” Every war ever has been justified by politicians as being in the nation’s “interests.”

        1. Do you believe in the idea of “Rational Self Interest” as far as individuals are concerned?

          1. Very generally? Yes. But there are plenty of times where an individual could do something in his rational self-interest that I would find morally repugnant.

            1. yes.

              similarly, people do debate to this day things like, ‘giving Poland up to the Nazis, then the Russians’ or ‘dropping the atom bomb’ or the nasty things we did throughout the 20th century to secure the Western Hemisphere under US hegemony.

              There is certainly a moral dimension to foreign affairs. and while it may be an important qualifier, id’ posit it has no more power to trump self-interest than would a Christians belief in “thou shall not kill” when defending their own lives.

                1. Please Bo, you’re supposed to be pretending to be the “bigger man” here, what with that awesome intellect of yours, and your incredible restraint and maturity.

                  Or, be a pissy teenage girl. Whichever.

                  1. Did you just call yourself a pissy teenage girl?

              1. “There is certainly a moral dimension to foreign affairs. and while it may be an important qualifier, id’ posit it has no more power to trump self-interest than would a Christians belief in “thou shall not kill” when defending their own lives.”

                This isn’t a good equivocation. No one is saying the U.S. shouldn’t defend itself if attacked (which would be equivalent to telling a Christian not to defend their lives if attacked due to a Commandment). The question is more along the lines of, is it ok to violate that Commandment to, say, promote economic growth or spread democracy?

                1. ” Is it ok to violate that Commandment to, say, promote economic growth or spread democracy?”

                  I wouldn’t call it a ‘commandment’ at all because realist foreign policy is in fact fairly amoral in that sense.

                  If you take away the idea of absolute ‘red lines’ in this context then there are far more options, amoral and otherwise, that could constitute promotion of economic growth, or reinforcing our security interests.

                  I wouldn’t add “spreading democracy” to any list of ‘interests’ as I think this is a popular myth that people seem to think actually has some basis in reality. I don’t recall anyone ever suggesting that ‘anti-communism’ was ever ‘promoting democracy’. It confuses rhetoric for reality.

                  To your question = was the US forcing Japan to open itself to foreign trade ‘unethical’?

                  Certainly. Was it justified? I’d argue, ‘maybe’. Probably more so than not. “Not” as part of any ‘manifest destiny’, but “yes” in terms of securing American global trade routes in the 19th century, relative to expansionist peers.

                  1. How can something be ‘justified’ without any moral criteria being used?

                    1. Your problem Gilmore is one of many people who fancy themselves as ‘realists,’ namely that they think that in the term ‘interests’ they are safely behind some kind of force field protecting them from the charge of vagueness and imprecision that they like to hurl at those they see as ‘idealists.’ But what they, and you, seem to not get is that once you start talking about what should ‘guide’ our foreign policy you are talking about what we ‘ought’ to do, and that is a moral argument just as surely as the idealists engage in. As a moral guiding principle, ‘do whatever advances your economic or security interest’ is a pretty horrific one (potentially sanctioning all kinds of aggression, genocide, etc). Additionally it has all the problems that Calidissident notes (what counts as an interest, who’s interest). To the extent it has any value, as a reminder to not let ideals gut all practical concerns, it exists as a bland truism at best.

                  2. “I wouldn’t call it a ‘commandment’ at all because realist foreign policy is in fact fairly amoral in that sense.”

                    I was using the term to continue the comparison. I suppose I should have put it in quotes.

                    “If you take away the idea of absolute ‘red lines’ in this context then there are far more options, amoral and otherwise, that could constitute promotion of economic growth, or reinforcing our security interests.”

                    You don’t see this as in anyway conflicting with libertarianism? Or the least bit problematic?

                    “I wouldn’t add “spreading democracy” to any list of ‘interests’ as I think this is a popular myth that people seem to think actually has some basis in reality. I don’t recall anyone ever suggesting that ‘anti-communism’ was ever ‘promoting democracy’. It confuses rhetoric for reality”

                    Who said anything about anti-communism? Have you been asleep for 10 years?

                    “Probably more so than not. “Not” as part of any ‘manifest destiny’, but “yes” in terms of securing American global trade routes in the 19th century, relative to expansionist peers.”

                    I don’t see how this logic doesn’t translate to domestic policy.

                    1. “You don’t see this as in anyway conflicting with libertarianism? Or the least bit problematic?”

                      I don’t see how a nation-state maximizing trade opportunities for citizens via its foreign policy objectives is conflicting with libertarianism. In fact, I see it as the original founding principal of US Foreign Policy – as in, War of 1812, Barbary Pirates etc. Our goal was trade, full stop. and would fight to continue it.

                      re: “spreading democracy” – I was referencing the origin of this term, which was during the cold war, and which was mainly a lie. It has never been a basis of American foreign policy.

                      “”I don’t see how this logic doesn’t translate to domestic policy.””

                      I am double negatived into incomprehension. My point was that “intervention” in Japan was considered in US best interests, so we did it. History probably proves that right. The question was, ‘should we have NOT done that, and why not?’

          2. This is like watching a guy plug a hole with a sieve.

        2. Of course it has. Would you expect a war to have been justified for some other reason?

          1. My point is, how is this is not some “bullshit buzzword?” It does absolutely nothing to further the discussion as to the wisdom or necessity of foreign interventions. Every side claims that their policy is in the nation’s interests.

            1. “It does absolutely nothing to further the discussion as to the wisdom or necessity of foreign interventions. ”

              No = it IS the discussion of the “wisdom or necessity” of any particular action.

              That’s how we determine what our interests *are*

              (I’m not using the ‘intervention’ term at all because it gets used as a blanket name for just about @*)#&$@ everything in foreign relations)

              The idea of “non-interventionism” by contrast entirely Disregards the idea of debating the wisdom or necessity of any particular action, and *presupposes* that the preferred ideal behavior is “non”-something.

              See what I mean?

              1. “No = it IS the discussion of the “wisdom or necessity” of any particular action.

                That’s how we determine what our interests *are*”

                My point is that it’s not some new, or meaningful idea or contribution to anything. Saying “we should do things in our national interests” means nothing. Everyone thinks what they’re doing is in the nation’s interests, and their opponents think we need to start acting in our national interests instead of doing what we’re currently doing. What are “interests?” Whose interests? How do we value these interests (hell, who is “we”)? Do we completely ignore anything besides our interests (is this amoral)? What are the risks of following such a policy?

                “The idea of “non-interventionism” by contrast entirely Disregards the idea of debating the wisdom or necessity of any particular action, and *presupposes* that the preferred ideal behavior is “non”-something.

                See what I mean?”

                Non-interventionism can be a practical and/or moral position. Plenty of people follow non-interventionism because they think it is in the nation’s best interests. Another way of stating the principle is that the only interest that justifies or requires government action in the foreign policy realm is the defense of its citizens.

                1. “” Saying “we should do things in our national interests” means nothing. “

                  No, it means we measure the issue in terms of costs, benefits, liabilities, risks, impact on material well-being, potential adverse consequences, etc. rather than any set of over-riding moral/ethical principals which presume to encompass these in some a priori way, a la “Non-interventionism”, as a starting point.

                  “plenty of people follow non-interventionism because they think it is in the nation’s best interests.”

                  Right – but do they reject it when it *isn’t*? The idea should be that self-interest takes priority.

                  The fact I have to argue this point with avowed capitalists is frustrating.

                  As per my example = was opening Japan to trade by force “wrong” from a non-interventionist view? Yes. from a moral view? yes. From a self-interested realist view? History would say No. Which view won and why? The one that we pursued because we wanted to have a pacific window for trade before being locked out by the Europeans. Crass? Yes. Would we be better off if we hadn’t?

                  1. “As per my example = was opening Japan to trade by force “wrong””

                    Because certainly we did not face any negative consequences from such aggressive treatment of Japan, say, a little over a century later.

            2. And it is a vacuous term itself. What does it mean to always pursue your ‘economic and security self interest?’ As some here have noted, does it mean doing so in a completely amoral way? When, for example, in the Fountainhead Roark makes decisions he feels compelled to do because he values artistic integrity but which close off to him some of the opportunities which a ‘self interested’ weasel like Keating takes, is Roark not acting in his ‘economic self interest?’ Should he?

              People who talk about ‘interests’ in foreign policy like to pass themselves as the opposite of soft headed idealists, but their term seems as problematic as anything those people come up with.

              1. “Semantic obfuscation? Irrelevant literary reference! problematize the text. Self-satisfied dismissal! chortle, beard stroke.”

                1. If you think that questioning the usefulness of the terms you are using only comes from what you see as overly intellectualized trolling, then so be it, but the world is going to keep moving around you finding this distinction you think so profound to be fairly silly.

                  1. no, just trolling. Don’t congratulate yourself

                    1. Yes, I’m trolling, not the guy who came onto a libertarian web-site calling non-interventionism B.S.

    2. This idea that “non-intervention” exists as an independent principle superior to ‘rational pursuit of our economic and security self-interests’ to me has yet to be demonstrated

      Does “rational pursuit of our economic interests” require the initiation of force? Yes? Then it is by definition the inferior option, according to libertarian principles.

      1. I wouldn’t jump to that “yes” so quickly.

        “require”? in some cases, maybe. This is why we have diplomacy – aka everything short of ‘force’.

        Although I’ve seen a number of people here cast even diplomacy as undesirable imposition of our interests into other people’s bizness.

        1. Remember, the non-interventionists are a cult. Noninterventionism is Faith, and it shall not be questioned.

          Re: above: ‘our interests’ = ‘USG interests’ = ‘whatever is required or beneficial to protecting the rights of Americans’

  6. You know who else was stuck in a Cold War mentality?

      1. Winter is coming.

      2. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

    1. Ronald Reagan?

      Walt Disney’s head?

    2. Finland?

    3. Cytotoxic and Gilmore?

      1. Niggling, but its not exactly like the ‘Non-Interventionist’ ideal was even *more* in vogue prior to the cold war.

  7. I got something in the mail from Rand the other day. It was some pro-life initiative.

    I thought we were going to leave social issues alone this time around, Rand?

    I am dissapoint.

    1. I got something about a conservative action group with Rand Paul endorsement.

      This tells me that Rand is running for Pres.

      While I don’t think you’ll ever hear him really fighting any social conservative issues, there is going to be some background campaigning to get at that part of the republican base.

      1. Agreed. He has to win to make a difference, and social conservatives are a really significant part of the usual GOP primary voters. I hope, and think, Rand can artfully win over enough of them without harming liberty much at all.

    2. Because that worked so well for Ron?

    3. Yeah, he just can’t seem to leave those alone. That will be his undoing.

      1. He can’t leave that alone because, to win the GOP nom, you’ve got to make pro-life noises. I don’t like it either but it is what it is.

    4. I actually got that email a couple of years ago.

  8. Ukraine is a giant clusterfuck. We should be glad it’s Russia’s problem and not ours.

    1. In proggie mentality there’s never a problem which isn’t somehow ours to solve.

    2. Colbert: Ukraine is U-kray-kray.

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