Rand Paul

What's it Gonna Be, GOP? A Rand Paul Foreign Policy, or More of Cheney's Dickishness?


Go Cheney yourself! |||

I can't think of a more stark contrast between the possible directions that the mixed-up, shook-up Republican Party can take on foreign policy than the one demonstrated over the last few days in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. We spoke in this space earlier this week about Dick & Liz Cheney's reaction to the deteriorating situation in Iraq, but let's quote from the piece at more length:

Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.

When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge. Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

Rand off! |||

Italics mine, for WTF? And yes, Dick Cheney just criticized an American president for engaging in recreational activities while bad things happen in the Middle East, the last refuge of the political hack. And note, too, the selective end points on the presence and status of "al Qaeda in Iraq," a force that just wasn't a factor in geopolitics before something very large and selective happened on Cheney's watch in the spring of 2003.

Which is a point made in a WSJ op-ed today by longtime Cheney-family antagonist Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). Excerpt:

Today the Middle East is less stable than in 2003. The Iraq war strengthened Iran's influence in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. […]

Saying the mess in Iraq is President Obama's fault ignores what President Bush did wrong. Saying it is President Bush's fault is to ignore all the horrible foreign policy decisions in Syria, Libya, Egypt and elsewhere under President Obama, many of which may have contributed to the current crisis in Iraq. For former Bush officials to blame President Obama or for Democrats to blame President Bush only serves as a reminder that both sides continue to get foreign policy wrong. We need a new approach, one that emulates Reagan's policies, puts America first, seeks peace, faces war reluctantly, and when necessary acts fully and decisively.

Is it still 2004? |||

The contrast is striking here not just in policy content but in tone. The Cheneys snarl about "appeasing our enemies," "abandoning our allies," and "apologizing for our great nation," as if it was the 2004 Republican National Convention all over again. Paul, with the exception of one somewhat intemperate paragraph asking "Why should we listen to them again?", approaches the question with an assumption of personal and national humility, a sense that American knowledge of (and power to shape) fluid events in the Middle East has limitations, as does American appetite for making the kind of commitments that the Cheneys of the world constantly seek:

Those who say we must re-engage in Iraq are also forgetting an important part of the Weinberger Doctrine: "U.S. troops should not be committed to battle without a 'reasonable assurance' of the support of U.S. public opinion and Congress." To attempt to transform Iraq into something more amenable to our interests would likely require another decade of U.S. presence and perhaps another 4,000 American lives—a generational commitment that few Americans would be willing to make.

This is a pretty clearly defined fork in the road for GOP foreign policy. As Rand Paul put it to me last August, when the elective war under debate was Syria, "We're losing, on a good day, 70/30 among the Republicans [in the Senate]. But we win every day among the grassroots, probably 80/20, 90/10." How—if at all—those numbers converge will tell us much about the fortunes of the Republican Party, and of the country.

A partial chronology from the voluminous Cheney vs. Paul file:

* National Security Republicans Go Gunning for Senate Front-Runner Rand Paul (March 17, 2010)

* Dick Cheney vs. Rand Paul (March 24, 2010)

* Why Rand Paul Is Backing the Sponsor of the Workplace Fairness Act Over Liz Cheney (July 15, 2013)

* Liz Cheney's Failed Campaign Highlights the Declining Influence of GOP Hawks (January 6, 2014)

And below the fold, watch some discussion of the Iraq situation on Monday night's episode of The Independents.

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  1. Why not compromise and take the worst from both? That’s how we do things now, right?

  2. I agree with Rand’s piece in the WSJ, but the fact remains that regardless of what the West does there is an intense struggle within the Muslim world right now between the forces of fundamentalists and moderates, and if the fundamentalists win (which it appears they are currently) the results for the rest of the world will not be good.

    This isn’t to argue for intervention per se, but if groups like ISIS and the Mullahs in Pakistan and Iran become strong enough together the West will become the next target.

    1. Thing is, those groups are all gonna fight each other before they come for us.

    2. “it appears they are currently”

      Fundamentalists always start strong, because they have the passion, but they don’t have the staying power, because their vision is narrow and people come to despise them once they are in power.

      1. people come to despise them once they are in power.

        Even if they don’t I have reservations about the fundamentalists ability to put up much of a threat with the kinds of economies they will be creating.

        So far their biggest weapon has depended on a $20 lock not being put on a couple of cockpit doors because government regulations prevented it.

    3. No, they are self-limiting, just as all extremists are. As long as they are the underdogs, they are fairly small and cohesive and united in spirit. Give them a few wins, some actual territory and power over it, and the night of the long knives will replay in the desert.

      They will never remain united long enough to threaten us. But we can always keep on sticking our nose in to their business and keep them united longer.

      1. I don’t share the same confidence that you all seem to in terms of “they will never unite long enough to threaten the west”.

        History shows that the relative stability in terms of world peace we’re experiencing now (to repeat RELATIVE stability, obviously not everywhere right now is sunshine and roses) is in fact an anomaly, and the normal course of events throughout history is one of constant upheaval. Although the worse murderers in the last 100 years or so were mostly Maoists or Communists or Nazi’s and not religious fundamentalists, that doesn’t mean that the next group can’t be religious fundamentalists.

        Pakistan could easily fall to fundamentalists and they already have nukes and a neighbor that they despise. There are all kinds of worst case scenarios one could imagine involving these lunatics getting their hands on serious firepower.

        I do want to stress again that this is not an argument for intervention by any means, but more of what Rand is getting at in that the threats aren’t going away and to maintain a “Reaganesque” foreign policy means one of peace through strength, and not using said strength without a clear purpose that is predicated on eliminating a known threat.

    4. Simple solution: If we’re targeted, all of Islam will be praying first to a mushroom cloud, then to a crater.

  3. You should have italicized this part for WTF-itude: Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace.

    Yeah, a residual presence-at massive cost to America-is a magic elixir that will somehow make Maliki’s awful governance not awful. Maybe it cures the common cold too.

    1. And speaking as one not usually inclined to defend Obama, Cheney is being (characteristically) a disingenuous sack of shit. Obama DID try to maintain some forces in Iraq, but the Iraqis refused, which meant withdrawal had to continue under the established time table–the one drawn up by the Bush administration.

      The mendacity involved in spinning this into “Obama abandoned Iraq” is positively breathtaking.

      1. Excellent point.

      2. Thoug it probably won’t get through to the “isolationists, dot, com” crowd, here.
        Did Oblamo say that it was with regret that the SOFA wasn’t ratified and that there was going to be problems with our retreat?
        In fact he, and Biden, claimed that withdrawal, without a residual force, that would, by the way, have nudged Malaki to continue in the direction of a unified Shia/Sunni government and army, was going to be one of their greatest successes.
        Oblamo didn’t try very hard for a SOFA, if he had, and failed, he would have had a completely different message, upon leaving.

  4. After Liz Cheney embarrassed herself in Wyoming there is no doubt that Republicans are growing sick of this shit from the neo-cons.

    They’ve lost all credibility to begin with, but Rand is certainly the kind of politician capable of making the non-interventionist position palpable for the average Republican voter. I suspect he’ll destroy whatever bloviating hawks get invited to the primary debates.

    1. Did you mean palatable? Or is Rand REALLY gonna flesh out his ideas.

      1. I don’t look forward to Cytotoxic joining Tony in a screaming shrill chorus about how much of a monster Rand Paul is.

    2. You presume they will let Rand into the debates.

  5. I eagerly await progtards slamming a war opponent like Rand while backing a supporter like Hillary.

    1. “America has the responsibility to protect the brown peoples everywhere!”

      Get ready for Return of 90s Liberal Internationalism. Big Men with Big Hearts.

    2. Honestly, it’s in the past. More important is which one is going to destroy the US economy via loony bullshit utopian economic fairy tales.

      1. Honestly, it’s in the past.

        What difference at this point does it make?

        going to destroy the US economy

        Yeah, Obama’s -1% GDP needs to be protected.

        1. Indeed, what difference, at this point does it make, you robotic teabagging simpleton? She repudiated her vote. The damage is done. The only thing that actually matters, assuming they’re both the nominees, is who would destroy the country and who might help it limp along. Those are the only options assuming Republicans continue to have any power.

          1. She repudiated her vote. The damage is done

            The same could be said of Bush. Yet I am pretty sure he is still to blame.

            Also Obama stayed in Iraq for 3 years and wanted to stay longer and Hilary was head of the fucking state department when Obama was executing that same Iraq policy.

            but yeah sure lets not judge her on her actual record. She said sorry so we better vote her in.


            who might help it limp along.

            Worse economic performance since FDR and you want to stay the course….who is a robot again?

            I will give you a gold star though. It only took 5+ years for you to finally admit the economy has not recovered under Obama.

            1. It has recovered, though not as much as it could if Republicans didn’t have a deliberate strategy of doing nothing to help it. The president can’t make broad economic policy on his own, you know.

              And yeah Hillary has been cravenly political about Iraq from the start. At least she didn’t start the fucking war.

              1. It has recovered



        2. Suddenly Iraq is not that big a deal. What really matters is whether the minimum wage will be raised.

  6. That’s it… Its either the soft leftist approach or the radical Liber approach.


    Tune in to Mark Levin and educate yourself before making a damn fool of yourself with articles like this!

    1. What’s your magical third way? I hate audio formats. Link to text.

  7. How old is Moynihan? Like 50?

    How does he still look like the British School boy in Empire of the Sun?

  8. America has lost more than 4,000 soldiers, more than 34,000 came back maimed and wounded, to say nothing of the hundreds of billions of dollars that have bankrupted our treasury. All for Cheney and the MIC

    Americans can ill afford to listen to Cheney. He has been proven wrong. It’s sad to see that no one has been charged with multiple crimes here.

    But then as an old book I read said. ‘None Dare Call it Conspiracy’

  9. Oh please sir, I will take the nice Mr. Paul to keep my country safe.

    I come over and over to Reason, hoping to find reason and reasoned debate, but it’s just not happening. When you lead with mixed up, shook up Republican Party, pause to comment on a world class political hack who dares to suggest this President’s “recreational activities” might be excessive and oftentimes inappropriate relative to what is going on in the world and the country(or fundraising in Vegas the morning after Benghazi)you descend into the polemic.

    Enemies are real. The military knows that and they know what they need to fight and win. But Obama wanted a domestic political win more than to do the hard work necessary to secure the peace. Maliki gave him a hard time and Obama took his ball and went home. And then he dithered. And now we have no good choice. It is not less dangerous to send a small force and 300 or so military advisors. Iraq has descended into a civil war, where we have no place.

    So please sir, when appropriate I will take the person who will listen to his commanders and generals and fight the hardest to do what is necessary keep the country secure abroad at its borders. Surely the vision is more inclusive than Cheney/Paul. But if that is the choice, then I would choose the one at his most informed is least likely to dither.

    1. Did you accidentally end up here on your way over to Hot Air or Commentary?

      I’d vote for a neocon over a progressive (before killing myself), and we all “get” where you’re coming from… but enough. Political repercussions matter. We can have all the proper virtue and just cause for fighting crazy jihad, but what is the fucking point if it’s going to lead to political wins for the actual enemies of liberty who are capable of really doing damage: the proggies.

      So kindly take your “wah! Reason is not reasonable!” garbage back to Hot Air where it belongs. (No offense AP)

      1. Nope. Got here directly on my own from my Inbox.

        Perhaps my tone was snide in response to what did appear to be more of a polemic. But I do come with an open mind and to look for the reasonable and reason at Reason.

        And of course political repercussions matter.

        So, I’ll just pick up my “garbage” and move on. Leave the place to you — all nice and tidy.

    2. But Obama wanted a domestic political win more than to do the hard work necessary to secure the peace.

      Then why didn’t he end the war in February of 2009?

    3. DRINK!

  10. We need a new approach, one that emulates Reagan’s policies

    Why bring that moron into Rand and ruin it. Reagan is the main cause of our problems. His bloated military was just dying to be used. His meddling in Afghanistan and central America did us no good and he got those Marines killed in Lebanon.

    1. What a bizarre recollection of the 1980s you have. Reagan never intended for his military to be used in the fashion it had by his successors. His strategy was “peace through strength” and it was designed to scare the Soviet Union into submission, which worked, perfectly. Aligning ourselves with the Mujahadeen and the Contras were probably misguided efforts, sure, but the former did help to bring the USSR to its knees and put Gorbachev at the bargaining table. Also, the marines in Lebanon were killed by terrorists, and Reagan’s response was to remove them rather than start a war that would have gotten them all killed. That was the right one.

      The Reagan Era was the most peaceful period of the entire 20th Century for Americans. Libertarians ought to appreciate that, in spite of whatever other flaws Reagan had. No other president in the last century is worthy of respect besides him.

  11. The road less travelled is the one we should have been traveling all this time. Cheney needs to go crawl back under the rock he came from. Or die of a heart attack, finally.

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