Rand Paul

Ted Cruz vs. Rand Paul on Foreign Policy: Quién Es Más Reagan?


I for one think Cruz looks much better with the beard. |||

The long-interesting Wacko Birds vs. Angry Birds split in today's tumultuous GOP has tended to distract from the split-within-the-split when it comes to Tea Party types and foreign policy.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), representing the anti-interventionist strain, has insisted from the get-go that the Tea Party is an explicit rejection of neoconservative belligerence. While that seemed like wishful thinking in 2011, the notion gained more plausibility by September 2013, when many TP groups and politicians went all-in against the Obama administration's neocon-backed attempts to use force in Syria. When Paul's ambitious and considerably more hawkish Wacko Bird Senate colleagues Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) joined the doves on Syria, it was a telltale sign that the intervention was doomed.

Well, that was then. Vladimir Putin's thuggish takeover of Crimea and menacing gestures toward Eastern Ukraine are generating a lot of hawk-talk about the alleged consequences of American "weakness," and its possible embodiment in anti-interventionists like Paul. On ABC News yesterday, O.G. Wacko Bird Ted Cruz made it explicit:

The man cannot stay behind the podium. ||| Pete Marovich/McClatchy-Tribune
Pete Marovich/McClatchy-Tribune

"I'm a big fan of Rand Paul. He and I are good friends. But I don't agree with him on foreign policy," Cruz said. "I think U.S. leadership is critical in the world. And I agree with him that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force abroad. But I think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did… The United States has a responsibility to defend our values." […]

"A critical reason for Putin's aggression has been President Obama's weakness," Cruz told Karl on "This Week." "That Putin fears no retribution… [Obama's] policy has been to alienate and abandon our friends and to coddle and appease our enemies." 

"You'd better believe Putin sees in Benghazi four Americans are murdered, the first ambassador killed in service since 1979, and nothing happens," Cruz added, echoing comments  by other Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "You'd better believe that Putin sees that in Syria, Obama draws a red line and ignores the red line. You'd better believe that Putin sees all over the world."

When asked about Russia's record of aggression before Obama became president, including its invasion of Georgia during the presidency of George W. Bush, Cruz instead slammed Obama […]

Rand Paul, who one year ago went to the Heritage Foundation to unveil what he portrayed as his Reaganesque vision for foreign policy, did not take kindly to Cruz's co-opting of the Gipper, writing a Breitbart.com column titled "Stop Warping Reagan's Foreign Policy." Excerpt:

Reagan clearly believed in a strong national defense and in "Peace through Strength." He stood up to the Soviet Union, and he led a world that pushed back against Communism.

But Reagan also believed in diplomacy and demonstrated a reasoned approach to our nuclear negotiations with the Soviets. Reagan's shrewd diplomacy would eventually lessen the nuclear arsenals of both countries.

Many forget today that Reagan's decision to meet with Mikhail Gorbachev was harshly criticized by the Republican hawks of his time, some of whom would even call Reagan anappeaser. In the Middle East, Reagan strategically pulled back our forces after the tragedy in Lebanon in 1983 that killed 241 Marines, realizing the cost of American lives was too great for the mission. 

Without a clearly defined mission, exit strategy or acceptable rationale for risking soldiers lives, Reagan possessed the leadership to reassess and readjust.

Today, we forget that some of the Republican hawks of his time criticized Reagan harshly for this too, again, calling him an appeaser. […]

I also greatly admire that Reagan was not rash or reckless with regard to war. Reagan advised potential foreign adversaries not to mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve. 

What America needs today is a Commander-in-Chief who will defend the country and project strength, but who is also not eager for war.

Regarding Russia's invasion of Ukraine, for example, there is little difference among most Republicans on what to do. All of us believe we should stand up to Putin's aggression. Virtually no one believes we should intervene militarily.

So we are then faced with a finite menu of diplomatic measures to isolate Russia, on most of which we all agree, such as sanctions and increased economic pressure.

Yet, some politicians have used this time to beat their chest. What we don't need right now is politicians who have never seen war talking tough for the sake of their political careers.

Tart, substantive exchanges like that are one of the reasons I lament the GOP's decision to condense its 2016 presidential nominating schedule. The Republican Party's approach toward foreign policy is up for grabs, and with it the party's potential popularity. Surely on questions of life and death, more debate is better than less.

NEXT: Edward Snowden: NSA Too Busy Spying on Americans To Catch Terrorists

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  1. Heard about 5 mins of this Cruz blather on Mike Church’s Sirius radio show this AM. Revolting. What a putz. Sounds like a Republistablishmentican, so perfect for 2016.

    Even if Rand Paul could get elected – and I don’t think he can win the nomination, cause TEAM RED – he’d have the Herculean task of getting both TEAMS in both houses of Congress to go along, plus the whole bureaucracy and “Mil/Ind complex”.

    Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.

    So – I’ve give up on all this shit. Not voting, gonna watch the ship go down and cling to my guns and religion. You kids enjoy what we’ve those-in-power-who-ignored-people-like-me bequeathed to you!

    1. The use of the pardon power alone gives any potential libertarian President the capability of instituting libertarian policy. Because the State, fundamentally, relies on convicting the tax slaves on bogus charges. If I was POTUS, I’d spend the morning signing pardons and the afternoons reading the outrage on the Internet.

      1. Saving thousands of lives from being ruined on spurious charges is obviously outweighed by the satisfaction of a juvenile temper tantrum for Almanian. Tells you about his values.

        1. Yes, my vote will undoubtedly save “thousands of lives”. “Rand Paul Wins By ONE Because Almanian Voted!”

          Thanks for setting me straight, Cyto.

      2. I won’t “pardon” anyone, but exonerate all of the current political prisoners who are victims of unconstitutional laws, which I will retroactively veto.
        Write me in in 2016: http://rich_grise.tripod.com/cgi-bin/index.pl .
        I’ll fire the whole damn government!

        1. Damn. tripod.com is *still* alive? Then again, so am I. Which is just as much a surprise to everyone.

    2. You should cast a protest vote, at least. I don’t know if you’re in an open primary state or not, but if you are, you could ask for a Democratic ballot and vote for Bernie Sanders, just to take one away from Hillary.

      1. I wouldn’t mind, much, voting for Bernie. At least he does have some principles.

    3. Not voting, gonna watch the ship go down and cling to my guns and religion.

      The sucky part about the ship going down is our kids will get f’d. I, for one, am going to stand and fight. Although I should say that it feels like a losing battle.

  2. But who will stroke the war boner?

    1. Speaking of boners, we could solve all of the country’s problems overnight by just replacing all of the hard-on pills with cyanide.

  3. “While that seemed like wishful thinking in 2011, the notion gained more plausibility by September 2003”

    Great, Warty Hugeman’s timesuit has been stolen…

  4. One thing I wish Rand would talk about a bit when it comes to party loyalists is the Republican Party’s long proud history of non-interventionism. Hell, Reagan, for all that he gets painted as some kind of warmonger, was far more circumspect in his use of military force then anyone else since FDR. Other than Ford and Carter anyway.

    1. If you operate from a position of principle and strength, then you can use the military sparingly but effectively.

      My fear with Obama is that having operated weakly and fecklessly is he may decide to act tough at the wrong time and blunder us into something worse.

      A weak man is most dangerous, he will try to kill you.

      1. As the received wisdom used to go:

        If you want peace, prepare for war.

        1. I think the “prepare for war” requirement is met by a well-armed militia. I’m pretty sure that outspending the entire rest of the world on military toys we don’t need and vast military presence overseas is just masturbation at that point.

          Masturbation which uses my tax dollars as the rag.



      I guess today is “Grant Virginian’s Wish Day”

      1. Guess I should have read the blog post too

        1. Yes, but did you know that Rand also had a piece on Breitbart?

  5. Paul: “Reagan clearly believed in a strong national defense and in ‘Peace through Strength.'”

    David Stockman writes that the Gipper had a very warped notion about the Soviet’s military capabilities or the reason for the buildup of their conventional ground forces:

    “Ronald Reagan never saw that either because he had come from the New Deal by transit through the fetid waters of late 1940s California/Nixonian anti-communism, and was ever a sucker for the latest Red Scare thereafter. The neo-cons were pleased to supply the big one?the First Strike myth?as Reagan lumbered toward the White House in the late 1970s.

    […] The neo-con coda ? that the Soviets had a nuclear war-winning strategy ? is one of history’s Big Lies. As I have laid out in detail in a chapter of the Great Deformation called “Triumph of The Warfare State”, the Soviets never had a massive civil defense system (to absorb a US retaliation) or massive phalanx of first strike missiles and bombers. And that was no secret at the time: The pre-Reagan CIA intelligence estimates denied it, as did most non neo-con Soviet experts.”

    1. So which is it:

      The neo-cons were pleased to supply the big one?the First Strike myth


      The pre-Reagan CIA intelligence estimates denied it, as did most non neo-con Soviet experts.

      I don’t think the neo-cons can both promote and deny that the Sovs had a massive first strike capability.

      1. I think you missed a “non”

      2. Oopsie. the “non” merged into “neo” in my scanning. Pls. disregard.

        1. Re: R C Dean,

          Oopsie. the “non” merged into “neo” in my scanning. Pls. disregard.

          I can’t. I already saw it. You will be assimilated.

  6. “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

    John Quincy Adams
    Sec of State

    1. Yes, but it is well known that John Quincy Adams was a pansy and an appeaser. Everybody knows that the greater the number of countries with which we are at war, the safer we will be. That’s just simple science.

  7. As much as I like Rand and Ted individually, I think they would make a great team as Pres/VP

  8. It should be Quien parece mas Reagan?

  9. Contrary to Rand Paul’s claim that the tea Party was formed because of “neoconservative belligerence”, it came about on February 19, 2009, when Rick Santelli, a CNBC business analyst, called for a taxpayer revolt. I remember the reports about it the same day. It didn’t take long for the idea to catch on with the growing, grassroots number of angry, fed-up Americans.

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