Some Conservatives Aren't Happy About Rand Paul's Comments on Russia


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Yesterday Jennifer Rubin responded to comments made by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on the turmoil in Ukraine and America's relationship with Russia.

Rubin's column, which has the headline "Rand Paul defends Putin, earns scorn from the right," highlights how alone Paul is in the GOP when it comes to foreign policy, and suggests that Paul's opinions on U.S.-Russian relations are in conflict "with virtually all members of the U.S. Senate."

Rubin goes on to say that House offices were reluctant to comment on Paul's opinions on Russia, and quotes one unnamed aide who said that Paul has "got the perfect foreign policy for the Victorian era." Rubin does not mention whether she reached out to Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) or Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.), the only two members of the House to vote against H RES 447, a bill "Supporting the democratic and European aspirations of the people of the Ukraine, and their right to choose their own future free of intimidation and fear."

Rubin quotes the American Enterprise Institute's Danielle Pletka and Freedom House's David Kramer, who both unsurprisingly don't quite see eye-to-eye with Paul on foreign policy.

If you read what Paul said about Russia in his recent interview with The Washington Post, it is clear that to describe his statements as some sort of defense of Putin is a stretch.

Speaking to the Post, Paul said that the U.S. should have a "respectful relationship with Russia" and that we should be proud that the relationship we do have with the Kremlin is better than it once was.

From the Post:

"We still need to be conscious of the fact that Russia has intercontinental ballistic missiles," he said. "Though the Cold War is largely over, I think we need to have a respectful—sometimes adversarial—but a respectful relationship with Russia."

"I think we should have trade and relations, criticize them if they have human rights violations," he said. "But for the most part, we should be very glad that we've gotten beyond such a tense situation that we're worried that any minute we could have a nuclear war. We ought to be, I think, proud of where we've gotten with that relationship, and even when we have problems with Russia, realize that we're in a much better place than we were once upon a time."

Encouraging a working diplomatic relationship with a country is different from coming to the defense of that country's awful policies. Indeed, Paul notes in the quote above that the U.S. should criticize governments "if they have human rights violations."

In his interview with the Post, Paul notes that some in the GOP are "stuck in the Cold War era." While America's relationship with Russia is far from ideal, policy makers should resist falling back into the mentality that dominated American policy towards the Kremlin for decades.

As Sheldon Richman noted earlier today at Reason.com, the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine is not the business of the U.S. government:

It is none of the U.S. government's business whether that country is economically closer to Russia or the European Union (EU). The Obama administration should not only forswear direct and covert intervention, it should also shut up. American presidents must learn to mind their own business, even where Russia is concerned.

Read more from Reason.com on Ukraine and Russia here and here.