Rand Paul

3 Problems Libertarians Have with Rand Paul's Foreign Policy

Libertarians who take their ideas seriously have always judged even purported political allies by tough standards, and rightly so.


Rand Paul
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Kentucky Senator (and presumptive Republican presidential candidate for 2016) Rand Paul last week raised eyebrows, hackles, chuckles, and (he undoubtedly hoped) his esteem as a serious foreign policy thinker when he said he'd like to see (Congressionally approved) military action against ISIS. Paul made sure, via Time, that everyone knew despite his noninterventionist reputation, he absolutely wanted airstrikes, arming of Kurds, and more help for Israel to boot.

Reason's Jacob Sullum, watching Paul's swift slide from seeking a national consensus on whether ISIS is a threat before plumping for war to declaring that the group's killing of American journalists and threatening religious minorities across the ocean is a threat to U.S. security demanding a military response, saw it as "political desperation" that makes it "hard to take Paul seriously on the subject."

As Reason editor in chief Matt Welch showed in great detail, Paul's career has been riddled with good big picture talk about sensible, realistic, non-bellicose foreign policy. Paul even tried in 2012 to give noninterventionism an evangelical tinge, saying he doesn't think Jesus would kill anyone, likely not even in self-defense.

But Paul has also been cagey, non-specific, and denied that noninterventionism is an unyielding principle. Paul also has never stated authoritatively what besides an actual attack on the homeland demands a military response. He has been consistent on executive overreach and the constitutional strictures on war-making, insisting that the decision to intervene against ISIS he supports should properly be made by Congress.

Back in June, I warned libertarians with a yen for Paul that they "will doubtless get heartburn at many steps along his path striving for the GOP presidential nomination." This was perhaps his biggest gut punch yet.

Libertarian noninterventionists had reason to expect better. As recently as June, the senator was sticking his neck out in the Wall Street Journal to stress how interventionist mistakes of the past on the part of both Obama and Bush have set the grim stage for Iraq's current crisis. He also recognized that jumping back in to Iraq "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."

Even now, Paul has not said he's ready for that decade of commitment. (Caginess about what he'd specifically do as president is, to Paul, a diplomatic virtue in and of itself. He's used that as an explanation for why he doesn't want to specify whether he thinks a potentially nuclear Iran can be contained or must be stopped at all military costs.)

Then in July, Paul took on likely presidential rival Rick Perry, speaking out about the folly of sending Americans to die for a government in Iraq not willing or able to defend itself and mocked the "let's-intervene-and-consider-the-consequences-later crowd."

Rand Paul, though, was indeed never the hardcore peacenik or vocal foe of American empire that his father Ron Paul tended to be. The senator had already said, in the public back and forth with Perry, in a Politico op-ed, that "President Obama has said he might use airstrikes in the future. I have also been open to the same option if it makes sense." Paul stressed he did not want to ignore ISIS. Still, though, in August he slammed possible Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton as a "war hawk."

Jon Healy at the Los Angeles Times did some concern-trolling recently for libertarians unhappy with Paul's recent pronouncements, calling them Paul's "biggest liability" as a politician. He singled out Reason's Jacob Sullum and Robby Soave, suggesting that critiques from thinkers or voters who might be otherwise Paul's biggest supporters makes for bad politics—if a libertarian wants Rand Paul to be a more successful national politician.

But there are (at least) three good reasons why even libertarians who wish Paul well as a national politician should not hesitate to criticize him over his ISIS declarations.

1) It shows Paul hasn't internalized his own lessons about the failures of intervention. Paul has in other contexts understood that the U.S. military is a blunt and often dangerous tool, that U.S. military actions create dangerous aftereffects (like ISIS  itself), that our enemies of today are using many weapons obtained via previous U.S. arming of the region, and that flooding the Middle East with more aerial bombings and more weapons to "allies" might not be the most sensible thing to do if future peace and less trouble for the U.S. is our goal.

Flipping on that point over what seems little more than vaunting threats and some mediagenic atrocities from ISIS makes the lip service Paul has shown to reticence and prudence in warmaking seem thin. Former Paul associate Jack Hunter argued there's no necessary contradiction between recognizing that past interventions create terrible problems and believing that alas, the current terrible problems might just prudently require more intervention. But making decisions to wage war that seem largely triggered by emotionally-charged atrocity stories is no way to run a world empire.

2) It shows Paul might be more prone to bending in political winds than you would want from a national spokesperson for the libertarian tendency within the GOP. Paul faces a political world in which being a "serious" thinker is tantamount to supporting military action, despite the rather dire record of such action in the past decades. That he might not be as eager to start a war as various Republican solons and deep thinkers believe their party needs to be has constantly haunted Paul. The Democratic Party lately has also gotten into the act of slamming him for being insufficiently tough.

We have some reason to believe from the last presidential election that most voters these days couldn't care less about foreign policy as long as we are draftless and not attacked. Still, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 61 percent of Americans now support military action against ISIS and only 13 are sure they don't want such action. In general, while the voting public doesn't care that much about foreign policy, it does not sound as peaceful as libertarians would like when asked.

National media and politicians are generally able to get Americans riled up against foreign threats as long as the bad aftereffects are not yet manifest. And as an annoying op-ed by Rick Santorum at Politico showed, no amount of willingness to talk war will make Paul's political enemies stop painting him as insufficiently dedicated to crushing all who have crossed the U.S. or Israel in the Middle East or elsewhere. Politically, Paul can't convincingly out-hawk his enemies within or without his party.

Still, a political plus for Rand Paul seems to have arisen already from this controversy. As of right now, the Rand Paul line seems to also be the Obama line, with new anti-ISIS airstrikes promised from the administration. This makes Rand Paul as mainstream a foreign policy voice as he could be.

3) Contra the Times' Healy, to a movement libertarian, Rand Paul's value as a consistent exemplar of libertarian political ideas and values might be more important than his immediate political prospects. If libertarian change is your goal, this may or may not be a self-defeating attitude, but it's real. Some movement vets have argued that libertarian political victories will have to come from politicians who aren't particularly hardcore in their libertarianism. Still, after decades far in the political wilderness, being right to libertarians can be more important than being president.

Having a politician of Rand Paul's national heft so close to libertarian desires on so many dimensions is a startling place for movement libertarians to find themselves. No one strategy to deal with it will, or should, dominate. Some will criticize yet try to understand; some will argue there's nothing un-libertarian about seeing mortal threats to America and acting on them with military might; some will just write off Paul as a hopeless case.

Rand Paul is not the only libertarian-ish voice in Washington. As Dick Cheney—perhaps the greatest living symbol of failed and destructive foreign policy—returned to the scene of his crimes to rally the GOP troops yesterday, Dave Weigel at Slate reported that Republican House members Justin Amash (Mich.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.)—two legislators not running for president—are still free-wheelingly skeptical about U.S. Middle Eastern interventions past, present, or future, never mind ISIS.

Serious Ron Paul fanatics have long lists of grievances against the son, who is not as inclined toward quixotic, bold libertarian stances as the father, whether sincerely or due to political calculation. This is perhaps the most painful for those who valued Ron Paul for his peaceful foreign policy above all, or his willingness to say that U.S. foreign policy has not been an unalloyed force for good in the world.

Pace Jon Healy, libertarians who take their ideas seriously have always judged even purported political allies by tough standards, and rightly so. When Ronald Reagan—who had famously, at least for libertarians, told Reason in 1975 that the heart and soul of conservatism was libertarianism—ran for president in 1980, he was taken to task by libertarian foreign policy thinkers (in the pages of Reason) for his bellicosity. Serious movement libertarians tend to take peace very seriously as a constitutive part of the classical liberal and libertarian tradition. War, to most libertarians, is not a neutral policy tool merely to be judged on whether it might rid the world of some problem we'd like to be rid of; it is, in modern terms, essentially and inescapably mass murder of a sort perhaps even more gross and distasteful than videotaped beheadings. 


NEXT: White House: Fund Rebels to Fight ISIS, Jay Carney Got a Job, Ray Rice Not Gone for Good: P.M. Links

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    1. If Paul gets even close to getting the GOP nomination, Reason will turn on him. You watch. Not all of the staff. But Doherety and Chapman and that wing will declare Paul the focus of evil in the modern world.

      1. I do NOT look forward to that. Sadly I think you’re right.

        We might get lucky though and get a decent amount of “need to teach the Dems a lesson” articles.

        1. We won’t get that even. Only Republicans need to be taught a lesson by being kicked out of power.

          1. Yes, nothing but praise for Democrats from the Reason writers…

            1. Many voted for Obama. Nuff said.

      2. If Paul moves further from libertarianism and closer to the standard GOP model why should Reason not ‘turn on him?’

        1. Because four years of Hillary isn’t exactly a “libertarian moment” and an imperfect Paul would be light years better than any president since Coolidge.

        2. Well, probably first and foremost because he’s no less libertarian than he was two weeks ago. The guy’s a long-self-announced realist. He’s made no bones that he’s not a non-interventionist. The guy’s laid out an entire viewpoint distinct from non-interventionism and neoconservatism. If Paul’s acting in accordance with what he’s claimed for a couple of years now makes him worthy of turning on to the Reason staff, they’re either illiterate or weren’t paying attention.

        3. Because he’s still a lot better than the alternatives. Frankly, I’d be happy if the next president doesn’t start any wars, doesn’t stimulate the economy, doesn’t start any new government programs, and balances the budget. Bonus if he manages to close some department, shut down a major government program, and piss off some European “allies”.

      3. Let’s be honest here:

        Unless the future headlines read:


        then I’m going to be disappointed.

      4. “Reason will turn on him”

        It all depends on what the Kochs and other forces behind Reason want.

        Based on Rand’s trajectory, it’s already clear he will do or say anything to get in the good graces of the establishment. There is no libertarian cause which he has not already watered down…

        Remember, he’s no longer a libertarian. He’s a libertarian Republican (in his own words).

        Well, heck, I’m a libertarian left-of-center dude. I want to cut the security state much more than Rand. I want all drugs to be non-crim. Elect me.

        1. Seems to me that office holders should have an IQ above 69.

          1. “Seems to me that office holders should have an IQ above 69.”

            In that case, your votes for GW broke your own rule.

            1. Sadly 69 is still higher than Obama…

            2. 69 is higher than the functionally retarded, which have an IQ of 35-55. That sums up Obama and Biden succinctly. “Functionally retarded”

              Since they don’t piss themselves at press conferences (that we know of.)

      5. And this is one reason why Libertarians will never be taken seriously and will always be a fringe element in the political arena.

  2. I have ninety-nine problems, but Rand Paul is not one of them.

    1. HIT ME!

      /Janay Rice

  3. Alternate Headline Ideas:

    3 Problems Some Libertarians have with Rand Paul’s Foreign Policy

    3 Problems Reason has with Rand Paul’s Foreign Policy

    3 Problems Brian Doherty has with Rand Paul’s Foreign Policy

    1. 3 Problems True Scotsmen have with Rand Paul’s Foreign Policy

      1. And if you’re not actually from Scotland? Are we now entertaining the idea that actively encouraging unnecessary wars is somehow compatible with libertarian thought of any stripe or even classical liberalism?

        Paul’s denied being a libertarian and frequently acts like he means it, and Doherty is as uncompromising as the Reason-variety libertarian comes. If Reason is going to be anything other than libertarianism and water, people like Doherty can’t turn their head when the nation’s best senator wimps out for purely political purposes.

        1. If one believes that ISIS is a real and urgent threat then a case can be made that military action is appropriate. I do not have to wait for you to pull the trigger to take action.

          I do not personally believe that ISIS poses such a threat, however, one can still believe in libertarian principles and come to a different conclusion.

          Also the argument from Libertarian purity gets even more absurd when we are talking about when and why we should be deploying a government military force funded by involuntary tax contributions.

          1. Also the argument from Libertarian purity gets even more absurd when we are talking about when and why we should be deploying a government military force funded by involuntary tax contributions.

            This line of thought is as bizarre as shrugging your shoulders about Core Curriculum because public education is already funded by extortion.

            If the US military has any legitimate purpose, it’s to defend American citizens from foreign threats. The idea that ISIS poses a threat to American citizens commensurate with Obama’s decision to go to war is as absurd as any defense of the preemptive Bush invasion.

            As far as bright-line libertarian tests go, one’s willingness to send US soldiers off to fight in random civil wars half the world away is a good one. If that means telling people who advocate needless war that they’re not libertarians because they don’t understand the ethical principles of libertarianism, I’m more than okay with that.

            1. This line of thought is as bizarre as shrugging your shoulders about Core Curriculum because public education is already funded by extortion.

              Maybe you have me mixed up with someone else?

              If the US military has any legitimate purpose, it’s to defend American citizens from foreign threats. The idea that ISIS poses a threat to American citizens commensurate with Obama’s decision to go to war is as absurd as any defense of the preemptive Bush invasion.

              I agree. Others do not. Not a libertarian issue. It’s an issue of fact.

              As far as bright-line libertarian tests go, one’s willingness to send US soldiers off to fight in random civil wars half the world away is a good one.

              As one of those people who was sent into such a situation I agree with that totally. It’s fucking stupid to get involved in other people’s civil wars. Particularly when both sides hate us.

              If one were to believe that ISIS poses a credible threat to the US or her citizens however, we would be justified in taking action against them in light of their behavior up to this point.

              I personally do not believe that they rise to such a point, but that has nothing to do with my libertarian beliefs.

              1. Apparently clowns like you and some others here can ignore the fact the ISIS has publicly threatened the US. If you read something besides Reason, you would realize they is a very good possibility that ISIS is crossing the border now. The is also the inconvenient fact that hundreds of “Americans” have joined ISIS. These traitors have American passports and the Muslim loving Obama will allow them back into the country.

                You people are fools,

          2. “I do not personally believe that ISIS poses such a threat, however, one can still believe in libertarian principles and come to a different conclusion.”

            You also don’t have access to the same level of information that Rand does.

            So there’s that.

            1. You also don’t have access to the same level of information that Rand does.

              The “top men” fallacy has so infected our view of governance that this is seen as a sincere argument that voters should fall in line behind the politicians and their direction for this country, instead of the other way around.

              1. That came off more passive-aggressive than I intended, so let me be more blunt:

                Rand Paul may have access to more information than we do. If according to that information he feels the case is made for the United States as a collective entity to commit to war, then he should at the least advocate for the revelation of that information to the American public.

                It is we the voters and citizens who are (ultimately) the decision makers in this country. Yes, as a practical matter the elected officials are the ones who cast the votes and set the wheels of government in motion, but they do so at the discretion of the electorate.

                If a case is to be made, it is to be made to the American public. Paul may bring these facts to light as part of the debate before a vote, but to hold up “he knows more than you” as a reason to defer judgment to him is to invert the master-servant relationship between the politicians and the people.

    2. Yes, despite the actual history of stances of actual self identified libertarian organizations, any generalization is clearly moronic.

      I think the dance you’re doing might be called The Derp.

      1. You have no idea how revolting you can be in your endless desire to stroke your own ego. I’m pretty clearly on record here opposing any further involvement in the ME. I was objecting to the idea that all libertarians are a monolith that can be spoken for or hold identical beliefs on this issue.

        1. Your objection seems fairly pedantic. Reason speaks for libertarians as a group on a regular basis, and there are many positions that are common to the vast majority of libertarians. A noninterventionist foreign policy is one of them.

          1. As I note above, military action does not automatically equal interventionism. They are different things and should be treated that way. ISIS has declared war on the US. You can reach the conclusion that it is a mostly hollow threat and decide not to engage, but the fact that they did so moves it out of the realm of non-intervention purity and into the realm of “do we take these nutjobs seriously or not.”

            1. I’m not gonna cut him that much slack. War should be the option of last resort…ALWAYS. It is immoral by nature.

              The circumstances of this altercation don’t rise anywhere near that standard. We are really going to start a war over two journalists and some empty threats?

              Did we start a war of the Khobar Towers? How about the bombing of our marines in Lebanon? Did we start a war over the first WTC bombing?

              No, Americans are jaded. We’ve come to believe we are justified in going to war over anything we don’t agree with.

              We are the only remaining superpower. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. That goes for the citizenry as well as the government. No way in fuck we’d have gone to war over such a minor incident prior to 911.

              We’ve lost our way. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

              I’m 49. My country has been at war nearly half of my life. That’s fucked up.

              1. I agree with everything that you wrote. I don’t cut him very much slack on this issue myself, but there are also no better options on the horizon, so I’m not going to jettison Paul over it either, and I’m just as tired of burned babies and mass incarceration as I am of war.

                If Paul can’t be perfect at least he might give us a shot at changing something.

                1. I thought all he said was that he was going to Congress to make the case.

                  I understood that he was saying it’s Congress’ decision to make ?

                  No ?

    3. Yeah, I guess I’m not going to pass the libertarian litmus test, but I’m actually in favor of some intervention with those Islamic State barbarians. Let’s provide weapons and air support for the Pesh Merga. The Kurds have their acts together and are pro-West. I wish we had carved out an independent Kurdistan earlier. As for Rand Paul, I’m happy with his foreign policy. It’s the right attitude of saying we need the people’s support through Congress and legal authority to go to war, then we destroy the enemy, declare victory and withdraw. He’s neither an isolationist nor an anti-interventionist. He’s a realist with respect for the Constitution. I much prefer that to his dad.

  4. Not that Mr. Doherty contacted the Libertarian Party for comment about what problems libertarians have with bombing the Islamic State, but we issued a press release on the issue.

    The Libertarian Party does not agree with the junior Senator from Kentucky on this issue.

    1. How the hell would the Libertarian Party know more about what libertarians think than John does?

    2. Any attempt by the United States and other foreigners to intervene in the area undermines the ability of natives who oppose the Islamic State (IS) to mount sustainable opposition.

      Really? Blowing up their tanks and Hummers and leaders will undermine natives who oppose ISIS? That’s just plain stupid. It might inflame other actors – as you indicate – but it won’t hurt the natives.

      1. Cause we all know that the U.S. would never bomb non-military targets over there.

        1. Precision. That’s Obama’s watchword, baby!

      2. In case you missed it, we’re blowing up the weaponry we gave to our last set of “friends” in the region that somehow is now being used by our “enemies.”

        Besides, the strategy is not to blow up their weapons, it’s to “try to find some non-ISIS fighters, and train them and arm them so they can help us defeat ISIS.”

        I’m sure there’s no possible way that those arms we’re going to give our new “friends” will ever end up in the hands of our “enemies.” It’s inconceivable.

        1. I didn’t say we should arm anyone. I think it is foolish to train people. We should use our power to DEFEND our friends and allies where it makes strategic sense (and without endangering our troops). In this case we put weapons in the arena and should be obliged to see that they don’t do any more harm. If the Kurds (or others) are facing a serious threat we should help keep them from being annihilated.

          1. We should not defend our friends and allies. We should assist them in their own defense.

            We were like the sap who comes over to help paint the “friend’s” house and after we both get started the home owner starts taking phone calls and not doing any of the goddamned work.

            Now we’re the like sap friend who’s pissed off at the home owner and instead of just saying fuck it and walking away or slowing down we decide every wall is going to be mauve whether he likes it or not.

            1. How about “we” stop anthropomorphizing artificial constructs like nation states?

            2. IF – agree: Help defend

      3. Being the target of the US gains a movement automatic sympathy over there

    3. That was a very reasonable press release Nicholas. You came across like the adult in the room.

      Nicely done.

      1. Thanks.

        In fairness, given the relative quality of the arguments in favor of military intervention, it’s not hard to be the adult in the room.

        1. “Relative quality of the arguments in favor of military invention?”

          Even that, is far too kind.

    4. This is the same Libertarian Party that nominated “Libertarian” Bob Barr?

      1. Yes, and the same one that nominated Ron Paul, Harry Browne, and Gary Johnson. The party’s not going away despite any mistakes that may have been made six years ago.

        1. Fair nuff.


          If Paul wins the R nomination, will the LP run someone against him?

          Best guess.

          1. It’s up to the delegates whether to nominate a candidate at the convention in 2016 (it’s in Orlando, you should come). However, I’d give it a 95% chance that the Libertarian Party runs a candidate in 2016 regardless of who wins (or is likely to win) the GOP nomination.

              1. New Hampshire allows cross-nomination, so you can run as the (L/D) or (L/R) candidate if you win both primaries. It’s really helped.

        2. Good answer. And I don’t think it should go away, especially since Gary Johnson was such a drastic improvement over Barr. But I still don’t think the LP speaks for libertarians any more than Reason does.

          1. The Libertarian Party speaks for libertarians who are willing to capitalize the “L,” rather than using the word as a modifier for their flavor of some other political ideology. But it seems that if someone is asking what “libertarians” think, asking the Libertarian Party would capture a subset of that.

            Kind of like how the Pope may not speak for cafeteria Catholics, but does speak for orthodox Catholics.

  5. If you can’t criticize a politician whom you (sometimes) admire, you’re nothing but a team hack.

    1. Yeah, he’s wrong on this one and he is doing it for political gain.

      It pains me.

      1. I agree, but he’s still way ahead of any other national pol

          1. Yes.

            He’s out there talking about WOD reform, assert forfeiture, restoring voting rights for nonviolent felons, criticizing WOT tactics that undermine our rights as citizens.

            Even on this issue he’s ahead of Obama, Cruz, etc.

            1. True, he has been talking about the things you set forth, but he has also been dodging and hedging and qualifying and to some extent, outright backpedaling, from his earlier pronouncements.

  6. “movement libertarians” vs constipated libertarians ?? WTF

    Rand Paul embraces lots of libertarian ideas. He seems to be saying that as long as half the Senate agrees on intervention then it is OK. I would prefer he outline a philosophy of when intervention is OK – in DEFENSE of the US, its allies, and other friendly groups/states/organizations. The goal should not to knock out ISIS but to defend the Kurds, the Iraqi govt (people? I’m not sure how to identify this), Israel, etc. If ISIS goes back into Syria, who cares?

  7. “Libertarians” don’t have a problem with Rand Paul’s “foreign Policy” because he doesn’t have one = he just has a couple of statements he’s made for political reasons.

    Leaders IN POWER have foreign policies. Candidates can express positions on any given issue of the day, but they have fuck all to actually do with implementing any policy.

    Also = “Non-interventionism” isnt “foreign Policy”. Its ‘Ideology’.

    The voting public may often agree with the recommendations of this ‘ideology’ – in fact more often than not they agree we should ‘generally stay out of other people’s shit’.

    However, when it is expressed as a ‘rule’ and not as a ‘nice-to-have’, it is political suicide. Because no one votes for leaders who prefer ideology to practical reality.

    For anyone to throw rand paul under a bus simply because he fails an ideological purity test is the apex of fucking stupid.

    1. NO, the apex of fucking stupid is supporting a democrat or republican party politician for, as a practical matter, to do so is to signal one is one stupid slave.

      1. in English?

        isnt that the same thing?

        1. Well, if we are referring to the same people, yes.

          A vote for what I think you mean by “practical reality” is a vote for more statist ideology.

          Of course, when it comes to the subject of voting, one should, as a matter of practical reality, presume that Comrade Stalin was right about vote counting.

          1. Have American voters typically voted outside the box?

            In other words, if you look at the total raw vote “counts”(mama, there goes that comrade again) over the last 150 years in all federal races, what percentage of the tally has been cast in favor of candidates bereft of a D or an R after their name?

            If I had a kopek for every time I have heard a person proclaim that voting for any third party candidate is “throwing your vote away”, I would be one filthy rich Russian oligarch.

            Therefore, if dufus americanus has voted as he has because he wants more government goodies and more empire, then, you could argue that his voting history demonstrates that he has been motivated by concerns of practical reality when he decides for whom he shall cast his ballot.

            1. in English…

              what are you even replying to?

          2. My point was there is no reason to throw Rand under a bus for a lack of ideological purity on the FP front. PARTICULARLY given his relative lack of influence on the issue.

            He could choose to grandstand against it, and make ‘not attacking ISIS’ his signature position, and rally all the political capital he has against any kind of continued military action in the region…

            ..but i think that would be moronic.

            Maybe its something Bo would endorse? Bo? What do you think about that?

    2. “no one votes for leaders who prefer ideology to practical reality”

      Really? Then how did Obama get elected? Fool.

  8. “the apex of fucking stupid.”

    Well that’s an excellent description of Doherty, isn’t it.

    1. No. I like most of brian’s stuff.

      And to be fair -i’m one of the few (only) people who is endlessly irritated by the presumption that ‘libertarians’ are a monolithic group united by their one-dimensional foreign policy views.

      IMHO, i look to libertarianism to provide the most sound argument for defense of LIBERTY for american citizens, which generally means protection of the constitution and individuals against the encroachment of the state.

      As far as ‘foreign policy’ goes, i can see how libertarian principles *might* inform ones FP views… but the idea that ‘non-interventionism’ is a necessary requirement to get your decoder ring is a little much.

      1. Yeah, I bet you’d like to see a ‘bigger tent’ on libertarian fp, so you can stick your neocon nose under the flaps (for a ‘serious discussion’ of course!)

        1. Why do you think Rand Paul is a Neocon, bo?

          1. I think you are

            1. Hypocrites are cute.

              1. Coy neocons, less so.

                You practically salivate over the prospect of a more interventionist friendly fp among libertarians. Like all good neocons you talk the language of ‘non-intervention? Tut tut, that’s not a SERIOUS stance.’ Well we have the evident result of such ‘serious’ interventionist foriegn policies through history. Not only is war the health of the state, but our interventions have been as likely to make the targets worse off than better. You can keep such ‘serious’ foreign policies for your buddies at Weekly Standard and National Review

                1. Facinating, bo.

                  So you’re still going to vote for Rand, right?

  9. And apparently it’s team hacks all the way down.

    1. Standing on the backs of True Scotsmen.

    2. Called it

  10. rand paul is just as crazy as the rest of the libertarians

    1. Show us on the doll where the nasty libertarian touched you.

    2. Show us on the doll where the libertarian left you alone.

  11. This is likely nothing more than Rand Paul jockeying for the Republican nomination. He knows that a firm non-interventionist stance will crater him with the war boners on the right, so he’s giving lip service to that wing of the party.

    1. Winner! He’s taking the least offensive stand he can in the eyes of the Ann Coulter wing.

    2. “so he’s giving lip service to that wing of the party.”

      So you agree he’s more a populist than an actual truth teller? He’s lying to get votes….???

      And, if elected, he will deny everything he said and all the votes he took part in?

      1. Obama lied completely about his war making intentions. Anything reasonably expected from candidate Obama was jettisoned by prez Obama almost immediately. I sorta remember a number of reason staffers advocating him for his likely non-interventionist bent, prior to ’08.

        If Rand turns out to be a ringer, I’m guessing it’ll be in favor of liberty, not the other way around.

        1. “If Rand turns out to be a ringer, I’m guessing it’ll be in favor of liberty, not the other way around.”

          So, you think he’s lying and ducking and jiving now, but he will truly be honest and forthright if and when he gets more power?

          That’s totally fantastic! I’ve always found that those who sell out big and early sell out even more when things get tough. He’d have absolutely no reason to “go libertarian” after getting what he wanted by being right wing.

          1. He’s named after Ayn Rand and his dad is Ron Paul. He’s seen what happened to his dad. True Scotsmen get laughed at not voted for.

          2. craiginmass|9.10.14 @ 8:25PM|#
            …”I’ve always found that those who sell out big and early sell out even more when things get tough.”…

            And with your fave lying POS, we didn’t have to wait long at all! He started back-walking the minute he was elected!

  12. Rol lthat beautiful bean footage.


  13. If Randy were serious, he’d introduce a bill not just authorizing, but mandating, the military action he says Congress should be asked to authorize? If he thinks it’s a good idea, why doesn’t he put it in writing, even if the bill has no chance of getting out of committee?

  14. I’m really torn about Rand Paul. Just to have someone on the taken seriously on the national stage who doesn’t flat out make me puke seems miraculous to me. And there is no doubt that Rand has courageous like no other politician standing up against the police state and to a lesser degree the war on drugs. From my own perspective, it seems to me that Rand is walking a tightrope, trying to interject some libertarian perspective into the national debate without being labeled a whacko and dismissed like his dad.

    1. has been courageous

    2. “Rand is walking a tightrope, trying to interject some libertarian perspective into the national debate without being labeled a whacko and dismissed like his dad”

      When you think about it, it’s amazing that RFK, MLK, Ghandi and many other historical figures were able to actually get things done and didn’t mind being called whacko.

      That’s quite a pull back…now the Paulies are going to settle for “libertarian perspective”. Heck, I’ll bet I can quote a lot of GW Bush and Obama speeches which show “libertarian perspective”.

      Don’t know what to think. First thought is that maybe this means it’s evident that US citizens don’t want or like the “libertarian” movement as put forward by Koch/Rand, etc.??

    3. Taft wasn’t perfect, either, nor Goldwater. But libertarianism has always been a philosophy first and a political movement second (or third), which means that the tallest dwarf in the Senate gets his ass kicked or kissed as circumstances and his decisions demand.

      You’re right about Paul’s role in popular debate. With his TIME column drawing so much attention, I see Rand in much the same light as Friedman a generation or two ago: not radical enough for the taste of radicals, but a meaningful, uniquely positioned figure who will introduce more people to a line of thought they didn’t know existed. Friedman was clearly more libertarian than Paul, but Rand is much better suited to effect a fundamental political transformation of the National-Review-inclined GOP.

      1. but Rand is much better suited to effect a fundamental political transformation of the National-Review-inclined GOP

        Agreed and we need it pretty desperately at this point.

  15. Excellent, this is simply excellent. The grumbling by purist libertarians is an indication that the son has learned from his father’s mistake.

    “ISIS can do whatever it wants, it’s no threat to us and therefore I won’t do anything about them once I’m president” is NOT the message the American people want to hear from the presidential candidate, even if it’s true.

    ISIS isn’t a threat to us like Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany were back in the day. I get it. But that doesn’t mean their agents can’t commit terrorist acts in our soil. And if anything like 9/11 happens, public opinion on how to address foreign terrorism will change.

    Americans don’t want more wars. But they can see Russia and Islamic terrorism is flexing their muscle. Paul is going to have to calibrate his message and offer some concrete plan that goes beyond “let’s just play defense”.

    And no, we’re not going to close the every military bases overseas and the departments of things (education, energy, etc). We’ll continue to fund Israel’s defense. Those things will take time, shift in public opinion, and more coalitions to happen, if it happens at all.

    Rand Paul will also lose Dhalmia’s support when he won’t vaporize E-verify in some states and authorizes more spending to bolster the border. Oh, Judas! Impure! Throw him out onto the street, where he may gnash his teeth and ashen his head!

  16. What exactly do libertarianism and non-intervention policies have to do with each other? I fail to see how the logical consistency libertarians have with rights has shit to do with whether or not we kill ISIS.

    1. NAP?

      Individual liberty, free markets and peace?

      Understanding the limits of our foreign policy and military capabilities?

      Belief that we should only fight wars of self defense and national survival?

      1. NAP doesn’t apply. ISIS will kill group A. We can stop ISIS. Regardless of whether ISIS is crushing liberty while we stick our fingers in our ears doing nothing damn sure doesn’t do shit for liberty. Unless you think that group A doesn’t deserve liberty or that the freedom to be slaughtered is some sort of freedom.

        You can believe we should only fight wars for self defense and survival but that belief has fuck all to do with libertarianism. It also means things like the revolutionary war and WW2 were unjust. Which is the opposite of libertarianism. If rights aren’t worth fighting for, only survival than why bother even talking about rights.

    2. Really?

      The basic tenet of libertarianism is that you leave people alone provided what they are doing doesn’t violate the rights of others. That includes nations.

      One can argue ISIS violated the rights of the two journalists and therefore war is justified under libertarian principle. I believe it is.

      BUT, one must first ask is it worth it. What will be gained by spending billions and risking our troops? History shows, nothing. We just spent $1T on two wars and we are no better off than we were before them. One could argue, worse. You cannot defeat terrorism with bombs and bullets. You need to identify the root cause of the conflict and eliminate it. That root cause is our meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations, and dictating terms to them. They hate us for it, as you would hate another nation who tried to push their beliefs on us.

      1. If beheading two journalists justifies a war, then what should we do about droning a 16 y/o whose father said mean things about us? We do far worse to our own people. War would means doing far worse to magnitudes more people. Avenging two deaths shouldn’t mean tens of thousands of innocents have to lose their lives.

        Treat it like a crime and apprehend the actual perpetrators. Isis is not a nation. It’s a really big gang. The land the claim is filled with innocents, just like our domestic gangs. They are the one’s who’ll pay the price if we go to war.

      2. “That root cause is our meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations, and dictating terms to them.”

        That is a trite and vague answer to the problem. Several of the worst governments in the ME had no respect for borders or international waterways. There is no shame in earning the hate of petty bullies.

        1. And their disrespect for borders affects our national security how?

          1. Lack of respect for international treaties affects the security of just nations. Kind of like how a burglar breaking into homes in your neighborhood affects your home’s security.

          2. “The basic tenet of libertarianism is that you leave people alone provided what they are doing doesn’t violate the rights of others.”

            Disrespecting borders and waterways is a violation of the rights of others at the nation-state level. As I wrote above, the simplistic view you espousing of “meddling” does not really provide guidance other than curling up in a fetal position.

      3. “You leave people alone provided what they are dong doesn’t violate the rights of others”

        What ISIS is doing clearly does violate the rights of others, so Nader your definition we would not leave them alone. If you think it’s just two journalists your way off.

        You seem to be suggesting we leave people alone unless they hurt Americans. But last I checked the Constitution- a document most libertarians take pretty seriously didn’t limit rights to Americans or citizens. The very nature of god given rights meant they applied to everybody.

        We caused it logic is a crock of shit. The same groups have been fighting since the caliphate, to the Barbary wars to today. We meddled with Japan the Philippines, Germany and a ton of other countries and only the Islamic ones are trying to blow us and every other country up. Plus ISIS will tell you they’re fighting to build an Islamic empire not some other bullshit reason. Do you think they’re lying?

        1. Damn auto correct got me, must proofread.

        2. Are you suggesting we force the whole world to adhere to our constitution? That’s not likely to go very well. We don’t even do that here.

  17. You libertarians speak for yourselves. I for one look forward to adding the Syrian Campaign Medal my already obnoxious ribbon rack.

    1. I’ll be happy to volunteer Marktaylor’s wallet to ay for your trip!

      1. What does my wallet have to do with anything? In my opinion all government programs including the military should be voluntarily funded. But that doesn’t have anything to do with this conversation.

  18. There’s muddy thinking involved with both Rand Paul and the author of the above article. A more rational analysis of the Middle Eastern situation and appropriate solution may be found at: http://www.theobjectivestandar…..-315662429

    1. “Bomb everyone who currently hates us, and hope that fixes the problem. If other people start hating us because of it, that means they also need to be bombed.”

      The transitive closure of that behaviour wpuld of course result in killing most of the Middle East + a good chunk of the rest of humanity. And that’s in the very best case.

  19. Libertarians talking about foreign policy and national security is like one hand clapping. Maybe we can just trade with ISIS and open our borders to them and that will settle them down. That is straight Libertarian doctrine.

  20. As much as I would like a President with strong Libertarian beliefs, the reality is we could not get one elected. The socialism in our society did not happen with one person or one election. If we want to push for more limited government we need to do it incrementally. It will take more than electing a president, it will mean getting far more in the house and senate that support libertarian views. Let’s win the small battles time and again, hopefully more of the public will see the value in less government and more freedom over time.

  21. Apparently people have not learned the lesson the current occupant of the White House has taught us well. What you say as a candidate has no connection to what you do once elected. Every consider Paul may be flexing his views to get elected with the intent of going 100% Libertarian once in office? However, I will take Paul’s problematic Libertarianism over the Democrats or Neo-con GOP any day.

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