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Rand Paul: The Case for Foreign-Policy "Realism"

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On August 23, 2014 Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gave the following speech in New York City at the annual dinner of The National Interest. Founded in 1985 by Irving Kristol and Owen Harries, the publication has long argued that U.S. foreign policy should fundamentally reflect American interests and needs.

The current editors write that the magazine's large approach "is guided by the belief that nothing will enhance [U.S.] interests as effectively as the approach to foreign affairs commonly known as realism—a school of thought traditionally associated with such thinkers and statesmen as Disraeli, Bismarck, and Henry Kissinger. Though the shape of international politics has changed considerably in the past few decades, the magazine's fundamental tenets have not. Instead, they have proven enduring and, indeed, appear to be enjoying something of a popular renaissance. Until recently, however, liberal hawks and neoconservatives have successfully attempted to stifle debate by arguing that prudence about the use of American power abroad was imprudent—by, in short, disparaging realism as a moribund doctrine that is wholly inimical to American idealism. This has been disastrous."

What follows is the prepared text of Paul's speech.

Immediately before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama wrote that we are at "the end of history."

The world, Fukuyama argued, had arrived at what he called the universal triumph of "Western liberal democracy as the final point of human government."

Almost 25 years later, we know Fukuyama was either wrong or, at the very least, a bit optimistic.

History has not ended.

Russia slides backward vainly hoping to resurrect the Soviet Union.

Vladimir Putin justifies aggression in Ukraine as defense against decadent and hypocritical Western powers.

In East Asia, Beijing extols the remarkable rise of China as the supremacy of a one-party state capitalism.

In the Middle East, secular dictatorships have been replaced by the rise of radical jihadist movements, who in their beliefs and barbarity—represent the antithesis of liberal democracy.

These challenges are in part consequences of failing to define our national security interest in a new era.

Our allies and our enemies are unsure where America stands.

Until we develop the ability to distinguish, as George Kennan put it, between vital interests and more peripheral interests, we will continue to drift from crisis to crisis.

Today I want to share with you my views on how to address these threats and how I see America's role in the world.

I want to spell out for you what I believe to be the principles of a national security strategy of strength and action.

Americans want strength and leadership but that doesn't mean they see war as the only solution.

Reagan had it right when he spoke to potential adversaries: "Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will."

After the tragedies of Iraq and Libya, Americans are right to expect more from their country when we go to war.

America shouldn't fight wars where the best outcome is stalemate.  America shouldn't fight wars when there is no plan for victory.

America shouldn't fight wars that aren't authorized by the American people, by Congress.

America should and will fight wars when the consequences….intended and unintended….are worth the sacrifice.

The war on terror is not over, and America cannot disengage from the world.

President Obama claims that al Qaeda is decimated.  But a recent report by the RAND Corporation tracked a 58 percent increase over the last three years in jihadist terror groups.

To contain and ultimately defeat radical Islam, America must have confidence in our constitutional republic, our leadership, and our values.

To defend our country we must understand that a hatred of our values exists, and acknowledge that interventions in foreign countries may well exacerbate this hatred, but that ultimately, we must be willing and able to defend our country and our interests.

As Reagan said: "When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act."

Will they hate us less if we are less present?

Perhaps….but hatred for those outside the circle of "accepted" Islam, exists above and beyond our history of intervention overseas.

?The world does not have an Islam problem.

The world has a dignity problem, with millions of men and women across the Middle East being treated as chattel by their own governments.

Many of these same governments have been chronic recipients of our aid.

When the anger boils over as it did in Cairo, the anger is directed not only against Mubarak but also against the United States because of our support for Mubarak.

Some anger is blowback, but some anger originates in an aberrant and intolerant distortion of religion that wages war against all infidels.

We can't be sentimental about neutralizing that threat, but we also can't be blind to the fact that drone strikes that inadvertently kill civilians may create more jihadists than we eliminate.

The young activist Malala Yousafzai, whom the Taliban in Pakistan shot in the head at point-blank range for insisting that girls have the right to attend school, voiced this concern when she met with President Obama.

She said: "It is true that when there's a drone attack…terrorists are killed.  But 500 and 5,000 more people rise against it and more terrorism occurs."

The truth is, you can't solve a dignity problem with military force. It was Secretary Gates who warned that our foreign policy has become over-militarized.

Yes, we need a hammer ready, but not every civil war is a nail.

There is a time to eliminate our enemies, but there is also a time to cultivate allies and encouragers among civilized Muslim nations.

Those of you who are familiar with me know that I deeply believe in individual liberty.

But I have learned through experience that this ideal can only be achieved by recognizing, as Bismarck said, that, policy is the art of the possible.

We need a foreign policy that recognizes our limits and preserves our might, a common-sense conservative realism of strength and action.

We can't retreat from the world, but we can't remake it in our own image either.

We can't and shouldn't engage in nation building, but we can facilitate trade and extend the blessings of freedom and free markets around the world.

Here's how I see the most important principles that should drive America's foreign policy.

First, the Use of Force is and always has been an indispensable part of defending our country.

War is necessary when America is attacked or threatened, when vital American interests are attacked and threatened, and when we have exhausted all other measures short of war.

While no foreign policy should preclude the use of force, Reagan understood that war should never be the first resort.

Eisenhower understood this also when he said, "Belligerence is the hallmark of insecurity."

The war in Afghanistan is an example of a just, necessary war. I supported the decision to go into Afghanistan after 9/11.

I still do today.

America was attacked by Al Qaeda, and there was a clear initial objective: dismantle the Taliban, and deny Al Qaeda safe haven.

The invasion showcased the best of modern American military strength and ingenuity: we went in with Special Forces and heavy air power, and formed critical alliances.

The Taliban were ousted from power, and Al Qaeda fled. We kept a limited force in Afghanistan to wage counterterrorism and we understood, at first, the limits of nation building in a country decimated by over 30 years of constant war.

?Only after our initial success did the lack of a clear objective give rise to mission creep.  Today Afghanistan is more violent than when President Obama came into office.

He deployed another 50,000 troops, nearly doubling our forces in Afghanistan, and added $120 billion dollars to the deficit.

And yet, the results are discouraging. The leading cause of death among our soldiers now comes from enemies disguised in the uniforms of our allies.

1,422 troops have died since President Obama ordered the surge.

We have now spent more money in Afghanistan than we did for the Marshall Plan and yet after the killing of Bin Laden and the toppling of the Taliban, it is hard to understand our exact objective.

Stalemate and perpetual policing seem to be our mission now in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

A precondition to the use of force must be a clear end goal. We can't have perpetual war.

A second principle is that Congress, the people's representative, must authorize the decision to intervene.

Reagan's defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, outlined a systematic approach to sending American troops to war.

A critical component of this doctrine is support from the American public.

The Libyan war was fought without the approval of Congress or the American people.

President Obama claimed our military was "being volunteered by others to carry out missions" in Libya.  He fundamentally misunderstands our Republic.

Let me be very clear:

France doesn't send our men and women in uniform to war, the United Nations doesn't send our soldiers to war, Congress, and only Congress can constitutionally initiate war!

The war in Libya was not in our national interest. It had no clear goal and it led to less stability.

Today, Libya is a jihadist wonderland, a sanctuary and safe haven for terror groups across North Africa.

Our Ambassador was assassinated and our Embassy forced to flee over land to Tunisia.  Jihadists today swim in our Embassy swimming pool.

The Obama administration, urged on by Hillary Clinton, wanted to go to war but didn't anticipate the consequences of war.

Libya is now more chaotic and America is less safe.

War should not be a unilateral decision taken in the isolation of the White House. But that is what happened.

In failing to seek Congressional authority, President Obama missed a chance to galvanize the country. He missed a chance to lead.

A President who recognizes the Constitutional limitations of power is not weakened, but actually empowered by the public debate that comes with a declaration of war.

I support a strategy of air strikes against ISIS.

Our airpower must be used to rebalance the tactical situation in favor of the Kurds and Iraqis and to defend Americans and our assets in the region.

Just as we should have defended our consulate in Benghazi, so too we must defend our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad.

I don't support arming the so-called Sunni moderates in Syria, though.

I said a year ago and I say it again now. The ultimate sad irony is that we are forced to fight against the very weapons we send to Syrian rebels.

The weapons are either indiscriminately given to "less than moderate rebels" or simply taken from moderates by ISIS.

600 tons of weapons have been given to the Syrian rebels, inadvertently creating a safe haven for ISIS.

Although I support the call for defeating and destroying ISIS, I doubt that a decisive victory is possible in the short term, even with the participation of the Kurds, the Iraqi government, and other moderate Arab states.

In the end, only the people of the region can destroy ISIS. In the end, the long war will end only when civilized Islam steps up to defeat this barbaric aberration.

A third principle is the belief that peace and security require a commitment to diplomacy and leadership.

Around the world we see the consequences of failed diplomacy and absence of leadership after 6 years of the Obama administration.

Military force is meaningless if our leaders cannot reinforce American diplomacy through engagement and leadership.

President Obama never invested in relationships with Congress, and the same is true of his foreign policy. To have friends, you have to be a friend.

In the run up to the Gulf War in 1991, Arab nations believed that once President Bush drew a line, he wouldn't let Iraq cross it.

And President Bush didn't "dance on the Berlin Wall" when it crumbled; instead he worked behind the scenes to help the Cold War end calmly.

In light of the new threat posed by ISIS, I believe it is even more imperative that Tehran and Washington find an effective diplomatic solution for limiting the Iranian enrichment program. A nuclear armed Iran would only further destabilize a region in turmoil.

Another diplomatic challenge is Russia's military intervention in Ukraine. Putin's actions not only threaten Ukraine, but represent a threat to the post-Cold War European order.

I support the sanctions that the U.S. and the European Union put in place against Russia.

I also agree with the measures taken at the NATO Summit to increase the Alliance's military preparedness, especially increased European defense spending.

We need to use sanctions and defense spending to achieve a diplomatic settlement that takes into account Russia's long-standing ties with Ukraine and allows Kiev to develop its relations both with Russia and the West.

As Kissinger put it: "If Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side's outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them."

Ukraine is geographically and historically bound to both regions.

We will need to understand that even with our help, Ukraine will not be able to stand up to Russian pressure unless it undertakes some fundamental reforms, such as stamping out corruption and restructuring its energy sector.

This brings me to the last principle I'd like to discuss today: we are only as strong as our economy.

Admiral Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put it succinctly:  the biggest threat to our national security is our debt.

A bankrupt nation doesn't project power but rather weakness.

Our national power is a function of the national economy. During the Reagan renaissance, our strength in the world reflected our successful economy.

Low growth, high unemployment, and big deficits have undercut our influence in the world. Americans have suffered real consequences from a weak economy.

President George W. Bush understood that part of the projection of American power is the exporting of American goods and culture.  His administration successfully brokered fourteen new free trade agreements and negotiated three others that are the only new free trade agreements approved since President Obama took office.  Instead of just talking about a so-called "pivot to Asia," the Obama administration should prioritize negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership by year's end.

Free trade and technology should be the greatest carrot of our statecraft.

Trade is a critical element of building a productive relationship with other nations, including China.

While our relations with China are complicated, trade has drawn us together and mutual investment can also play a constructive role. In an era in which geopolitics could drive us apart, we need to look for new areas for US-Chinese cooperation.

Promoting free markets should be a priority.

The only long-term strategy that will change the world is fostering successful capitalist economies that increase living standards and connect people through trade.

From Kiev to Cairo to Tunis, we are witnessing a historic time of protest against the injustice of overbearing, corrupt governments.

If the long war is ever to end, we must understand the frustrations of the street.

It isn't always abject poverty or religion that motivates recruits or sets off conflict.

Often it is the despair and humiliation that comes from overbearing government.

Twenty-six year old Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street merchant who set himself afire and began the Arab Spring, was an aspiring entrepreneur foiled by a corrupt government.

Bouazizi had a dream: he'd save for a pick-up truck. But cronyism and an overbearing government stifled his dream.

Constantly harassed for money he didn't have, Bouazizi doused himself in kerosene and lit a match.

My great-grandfather came to America with a dream not unlike Bouazizi's. He peddled vegetables until he saved enough to purchase a truck, elevating him to what they called then a "truck farmer," a level that allowed him to purchase a home and small bit of land.

The difference between America in the late nineteenth century and places in the Middle East…South Asia..Africa…and South America…today is that bribes and cronyism were not necessary to get a license to purchase a truck or sell vegetables.

Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto spoke to Bouazizi's brother and asked if he left a legacy. Bouazizi's brother responded: "Of course, he believed the poor had the right to buy and sell."

Tonight I have outlined the principles we must remember if we are to advance security, peace, and human dignity.

These principles of conservative realism are a return to traditional Republican values that recognize our limits and realize our might.

Americans yearn for leadership and for strength, but they don't yearn for war.

Our enemies should bear witness to the unmatched and unstoppable American force that was justifiably unleashed after 9/11 and know that terrorism will never defeat America, that terrorism will only awaken and embolden our resolve.

But the world should also know that America aspires to peace, trade, and commerce with all.

That though we will not abide injustice we will not instigate war.

That our noblest intentions are sincere and war will always be our last resort, and that "our reluctance for war must not be mistaken for lack of resolve" …

That the exceptional ideas that formed our republic unify us in the defense of freedom, and we will never back down in the defense of our naturally derived, inalienable rights.

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  1. + 1 for kicking Fukuyama in the balls

    + 1 for referencing Hernando de Soto

    Still, I would have liked to have seen Paul come out even stronger against the Sinophobia that dominates the government’s, especially under Democrats, dealings with China

    1. And the bipartisan Russophobic thinking that stands in the way of rational policy. It wasn’t Putin who spent taxpayer monies to replace a democratically-elected regime with a bunch of Nazis. If we want to irreversibly thwart Hillary’s chances of winning the White House, then we should want all of these things to get the circulation they deserve.

      1. It wasn’t Putin who spent taxpayer monies to replace a democratically-elected regime with a bunch of Nazis.

        Indeed, it was nobody because that never happened in Ukraine.

        1. “A bunch of nazis” is the only questionable part of this statement. The rest is extremely true. If you don’t think so you need to do some more reading. And I think Rand went far enough with both his Sino- and Russian-relations

    2. China could do its part by not launching cyber-attacks against US commercial interests.

      1. Yes it sucks, but we do the same thing. There are only two possibilities of alleviating it- war (not an option) or cut ties with China (not an option). Increased security is the only way out, for both countries. This game is as old as money

  2. I read the whole thing. Much respect Rand. You have a thoughtful, clear vision. Also, nice job calling out Clinton. Set up the competition early like Romney did. Be the ‘clear frontrunner’ the media never allowed your father to be. I don’t agree with all your views, but you are a man in government that has my respect. One of very few.

    1. I’m not waiting for perfect agreement with Paul’s public statements, myself, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want any of the other likely presidential candidates to win, from either major party.

  3. “Twenty-six year old Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street merchant who set himself afire and began the Arab Spring, was an aspiring entrepreneur foiled by a corrupt government.”

    The underlying problem in Tunisia and the other Arab Spring countries is unemployment. Nobody would be self-immolating if there were a corrupt autocratic government using oil money to provide everyone a decent living (like some places I can think of). I dearly hope Sen. Paul isn’t pimping Bouazizi out to make a point about financial regulations.

    Which is to say, as ever, it’s the economy, dumbass. I sincerely hope Paul’s foreign policy approach resonates, but if he faces Clinton his first job will be to explain how his domestic policies will put more wages in more people’s pockets. I presume he’s polished enough by now not to tell the truth, that his real views about economic policy don’t have any room for caring about macroeconomic outcomes like the employment rate.

    1. Well Paul is pretty close to Reagan and Reagan’s economic policies kicked the asses of everyone since at least Coolidge so he shouldn’t have much to worry about there.

      1. You’ve got to be joking.

        1. No I’m 100% right as usual.

            1. Economic policies, yes. Civil liberties, not so much.

    2. “Nobody would be self-immolating if there were a corrupt autocratic government using oil money to provide everyone a decent living (like some places I can think of).”

      So you’d rather have them go bankrupt slowly?
      What a pathetic piece of crap you are.

      1. Well they could use the money on things like education, health care and infrastructure instead of sending it to Switzerland by the truckload.

    3. As an irrational progressive moron, I thought you were against oil, and yet here you are lobbying for its proceeds to be used as a welfare fund.

      I guess in the prog terrible policy decision tree giant welfare state environmental communism?

      1. giant welfare state “is greater than” environmental communism.

        Apparently brackets aren’t allowed in this chat box?

      2. I am against oil, and what happens to places that let profits from it flow like milk from a teat like Saudi and Alaska if we stop burning it is a serious concern. Not as big a concern as the destruction of the biosphere from burning fossil fuels, but an interesting question.

        1. You’re against oil?

          Tough to come up with a comment stupider than that.

  4. The right to trade freely is a basic human right. Good on Rand for stating it so explicitly and forcefully.

  5. The underlying problem in Tunisia and the other Arab Spring countries is unemployment

    Which can only be caused by a lack of theft from the right people, and not an oppressive regime that allows little to no opportunity for people to better their lives, or the lives of others.

    1. It can be caused by lots of things, and victimized people will put whoever in charge they think will give them jobs. Oppressive regimes can ensure widespread prosperity if they are able and willing, so ensuring employment and prosperity and establishing free democratic governments would seem to be two different ends requiring different means. All I’m saying is the problem is not translatable to libertarian bromides about those darn bureaucrats.

      1. This is a fundemental issue, Tony.

        You say, “his first job will be to explain how his domestic policies will put more wages in more people’s pockets.”

        You assume that it is his job to put wages into pockets. You have changed th debate to “Who will give me more free stuff,” rather than, to Rand’s point, “Who will give me the freedom to thrive?” That is what the world needs.

        (PS: I get it: people who are starving don’t need freedom, they need bread. Don’t go on about starving masses, that is just a waste of time, and changes the subjet.)

        His point is that Bouazizi, and others, need economic policy based on freedom of enterprise, freedom to lift one’s self up, not free stuff.

        You say, “Oppressive regimes can ensure widespread prosperity if they are able and willing …” I would challange you to give examples. Show me a genuinely oppressive regime that has produced, for an extended period of time, wideparead prosperity. You will have a hard time showing this for any significant length of time.

        (Please don’t say “Well, nobody has, but they COULD!” This is not convincing. After all, if wishes were nickles, beggars would be kings.)

        Finally, yes, you are correct in that there are options for unemployment other than personal freedom. For example, mass extermination. Pure fascism, in which everybody has a job run by the government (and standard of living be damned.) However, Rand, and much of the libertarian movement, is saying that we can achieve BOTH of these goals.

        1. You have changed th debate to “Who will give me more free stuff,” rather than, to Rand’s point, “Who will give me the freedom to thrive?” That is what the world needs.

          Same thing to me. He promises his laissez-faire policy will enable people to thrive, a Democrat thinks more intervention will. If he doesn’t think it’s his job to care about employment, I suggest he campaign on that. But it’s still very much promising people free shit. More so, in fact. He would claim that they can have widespread prosperity without having to pay taxes to attain it. That is free shit.

          Show me a genuinely oppressive regime that has produced, for an extended period of time, wideparead prosperity.

          Well I was thinking about petrostates like Saudi that are theocratic and autocratic but where there aren’t revolutions going on. Revolutions tend to be about real basic needs. Agitating for democracy and liberalism is a higher-level thing and takes preexisting institutions and context.

          1. He would claim that they can have widespread prosperity without having to pay taxes to attain it. That is free shit.

            FAIL

            Well I was thinking about petrostates like Saudi that are theocratic and autocratic but where there aren’t revolutions going on. Revolutions tend to be about real basic needs.

            Qaddhafi’s Libya was a petrostate.

            1. Yeah well Gaddafi was a fucking weirdo dictator.

          2. First,

            Respectfully, you miss that the actor is valuable. You said “Give me.” This assumes that it is being provided. Rand (hopefully) is not promising anybody free anything. He is arguing that a world where somebody doesn’t have to get approval from a government agency to buy a truck and sell his goods will allow that individual more upward mobility. Rand would, I assume, claim that unemployment is an issue, and one he is concerned with, but his solution would be to give individuals more freedom to be prosperous rather than spending tax money to employ them.

            Second,

            I am — skeptical of your examples of petrostates. I am not sure that Saudi Arabia is exactly what we want to look at for an example. Is it currently peaceful (not including the protests that this and the previous government had to clamp down on, sending peaceful protesters off to prison)? Yes, for some measure of the word. But wide spread prosperity? SA does not publish statistics on their own poverty, and those who have published statistics (indicating that 22% of them would be considered by international standards as “poor” and 70% of them do not own homes. So I am not seeing that “Widespread Prosperity.” Yes, they are less poor than they were in 1932, but I wouldn’t expect “It is better than it used to be” to be much of an argument, and certainly not something an educated individual like yourself would suggest.

            1. If you just look at the history of economic policy, there is no way RP could honestly offer laissez-faire and a promise of full employment. The market doesn’t care about full employment. If he does make promises about employment, he is offering free shit. Libertarianism in general is all about a giant free lunch: peace and prosperity and civilization, and we don’t have to pay for it! It happens by magic. Market magic. That this has never happened before doesn’t seem to stop you.

              I’m skeptical of my other argument as well. Still, in Tunisia where the revolutions began, the base problem was mass unemployment, and this guy’s problem was desperation related to that. Yes there was bureaucratic nonsense that served as the last straw, but saying that’s an argument for laissez-faire is like saying a bad day at the DMV is an argument for getting rid of drivers licenses.

          3. “He would claim that they can have widespread prosperity without having to pay taxes to attain it. That is free shit.”

            Actually, you still have to work for it…

            And, since it isn’t Papa Obama that cuts your check, (or mine anyway), but the company you work for or your customers (if you are self-employed) it is certainly not free, but a fair and consensual trade of time/effort for money. The government is the parasite in this equation, because they get a cut and don’t provide anything of substantive value to the equation.

          4. Who’s getting free shit? How many palaces and private jets does a person need? These third-world “presidents-for-life” are stealing the money needed to set up basic commerce and civilization. Imagine taking weeks to go a few hundred miles to deliver a truckload of freight.

            West African Truckers documentary.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYFEoWwDvxY

  6. He Who Ruined Burning Man was there and pronounced “I have seen the next Reagan,” to which Bill Kristol snarled “the next George McGovern.”

    This may be wishful thinking, but the Rubin/Kristol/Wehner/Gerson contingent seems to be getting desperate, born out of a sense that they just can’t make this guy go away.

    I know they won’t give up and the invective will only get exponentially worse, but I hold out a faint hope that the uber hawks ultimately throw up their hands in a “can’t beat em, join em” kind of way.

    I continue to believe that Rand may actually pull this miracle (winning the primary) off. He’s like Yankee pinstripes; no one can keep their eyes off him, least of all the haters.

    1. If the neocons had ANY brains, they’d co-opt Ted Cruz. But they’re stupid so they’re going to go with Jeb Bush or even…Mitt Romney.

      1. Isn’t that a good thing? If they were competent, wouldn’t we be in a much worse position?

  7. ‘Realism’ has an actual definition in international relations (think Hans Morgenthau) so I think it’s a bit much for Rand to use that term to describe his foreign policy platform. Still, lots of good stuff in that speech there, clear and concise, which is what he needs to be to shake off the ‘isolationist’ slur.

  8. The difference between America in the late nineteenth century and places in the Middle East?South Asia..Africa?and South America?today is that bribes and cronyism were not necessary to get a license to purchase a truck or sell vegetables.

    It’s the same difference between America in the late 19th Century and America in the early 21st Century. We’re really nothing more now than a banana republic without the bananas.

  9. Our enemies should bear witness to the unmatched and unstoppable American force that was justifiably unleashed after 9/11 and know that terrorism will never defeat America, that terrorism will only awaken and embolden our resolve.

    Tow that lion, Rand. Now go to AEI and kiss some rings.

  10. I’m less sanguine than Paul is (or says he is) about the notion of “civilized Islam.” The problem is that Islam is essentially a totalitarian political ideology with a bit of religious crapola tacked onto it.

    It only became “civilized” when two things happened, somewhat concurrently: (1) it was finally and severely defeated on the battlefield in various places between about 1500 and 1850, and (2) the various pashas and emirs ruling the “ummah” realized that it was a lot more fun to roll around in mounds of gold and cavort with their harems than to put on black pajamas and go fight the kafirs.

    What the Salafists are selling is the original cult-like nature of Islam in its purest form. It sells well to different people for different reasons, and it’s going to be a problem for a long time unless it is crushed as an idea.

    1. Hold on, Islam during the middle ages-especially in Spain-was a force for civilization. Jews were more than tolerated, although probably not equal but still better off than in Europe. They produced beautiful art.

      1. They did so occasionally. Andalusia alternated between vicious thuggery and somewhat more tolerant eras that contained echoes of the classical Mediterranean civilizations.

        And, of course, there’s the entire matter of how Islam got to Spain in the first place…

        1. Islam got into Spain the same way the Visigoths they conquered did. It was ‘everything goes’ in post-Roman Europe. I for wish the Battle of Tours had gone the other way.

      2. The Middle East was largely more ‘civilized’ than Europe, but that’s not saying much in the Middle Ages. Jews and Christians were more tolerated, but also considered second class citizens under the law. Europe eventually got out of its pogrom phase but had to force the Ottoman Empire into abandoning its caste system. Christianity does not have any specific doctrinal justifications for pogroms on Jewish communities, but Islam has codified laws that extort dhimmi.

        If we’re judging Middle Age societies as ‘civilized’ by their religious tolerance, then the Mongols win by default.

  11. Sorry, but Rand is losing me on this one.

    Lot’s of noble sentiment in the abstract, lots of Party-courting in the concrete.

    “Saint Reagan understood the importance of prudent military action conducted with full public consent – no secret unapproved military engagements on HIS watch!”

    “George Sr. drew clear lines with Hussein in the run-up to 1991 – no talking out of one side of his mouth and then changing position at the last minute in defiance of his previous positions for HIM!”

    “George Jr. understood the value of peace, free trade and cultural exchange – he didn’t just rush us into war without considering other avenues!”

    Principals, not principles.

    By the time he wins the primary, he will be advocating Perpetual War in the Name of Finally Ending the Long War.

    1. I hope you are wrong. I am afraid you are right, but I hope you are wrong.

      However, I am willing to give him a chance to be wrong, hoping he will be right, rather than bet on a horse I KNOW will lead to a bad end.

    2. Holy hell, way to miss the point. Rand is emphasizing the values promoted by these Republicans, not their actions that didn’t live up to those values.

      1. Rand is emphasizing the values promoted by these Republicans, not their actions that didn’t live up to those values.

        You mean the empty hollow words of people who will say anything to a crowd even if they don’t mean it.

    3. One article called Rand Paul a ‘moderate non-interventionist’ (in comparison with his father, an ‘absolutist non-interventionist’).

      In other words Rand is a ‘moderate interventionist’ which is pretty much the same as all those who favor interventionism for the ‘right reasons’. Lots of examples in recent history. None of them positive.

  12. This isn’t bad and I generally like it. I have a few quibbles.

    First, it is unfortunately not true that the liberation of Afghanistan was a crowning moment of American military achievement. It was a disaster. America sent in an insufficient number of Spec Oops ninjas to liaise with Afghan ‘allies’ we never should have trusted. America should have sent in 100,000 US Army Rangers and nuked Tora Bora and treated the Northern Alliance and other Afghan ‘allies’ with suspicion and as cannon fodder. Most importantly, America’s troops should not have been so burdened with ROEs.

    And that is the low-hanging fruit Rand should be picking to get liked by the GOP base: stop hindering US troops with outrageously restrictive ROEs.

    Also, he should call for ending our ‘alliance’ with the House of Saud and Pakistan. This is the worst arrangements America has going on. Recognize Somaliland and Kurdistan instead.

  13. Paul’s ‘realism” foreign policy speech here does not address the issue of appeasement in the face of multiple attacks on this country starting with Iranian Embassy takeover and culminating in 9/11. In spite and possibly because of these stupidly self-defeating wars–Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and various drone strikes, the attacks go on. Those enabling the very real threats against this country need to be eliminated–Iran’s mullahs and factions inside the Saudi government that provide huge financial support of Salafi Jihadism.

    Rand suggesting more negotiations with Iran seems weak and more of the same appeasement that ends up getting us into in more half-assed wars that are not fought to win.

    Iran wants us dead, they want Israel dead. They and other terrorist supporters are not going away and as long as they only see more appeasement, they will continue to do what they have been doing–building their capability to carry out their threats. Rand’s “realism” needs to address this clear and present threat for him to be taken serious as a candidate.

    1. You are correct, but we cannot afford outright war with Iran or Saudi Arabia. High-interest rates for hard money and increased energy production should cause energy prices to collapse and with them go these belligerents. If necessary the CIA can support insurgencies in them.

      1. We cannot afford to eliminate an existential threat? We must. What I am suggesting–ridding the world of the main supporters of ME terrorism could be done in 2-3 weeks if the full force of the American military were laid to bare.

        Maybe a robust support of Iranian democracy movement would have done the trick, but Obama missed the chance. If their democracy movement could be counted on to secure individual rights for the country a set up a peaceful society, I would say support them, but if it is just another bunch of dictators, then we should do it ourselves.

        1. Yes, the USG should have at least sent weapons to the Iranian protesters. The war you propose would be a great idea if America weren’t broke, which it friggin is. Besides, Iran and SA look more and more likely to war on each other, in Iraq and Yemen. We need the budget option and that means stepping aside to let these two POSs tear each other apart.

        2. David, I really want hear your detailed case for how Iran and the other terrorist groups are existential threats.

          Also, I’m curious about your 2-3 week time frame for “ridding the world” of terrorism supporters. Seems pretty straightforward, so let’s hear it.

          1. If Iran has the bomb or even a dirty bomb, do you think they would hesitate to use it to destroy NYC or DC? Have they left any doubt as to their intentions.

            According to Hillary Clinton of all people, the Saudi’s are the biggest financial supporter of world-wide terrorism in the world. You don’t think the Saudi’s don’t have the financial resources to figure a way to destroy an American city? Do you wish to take that chance?

            As for the amount of time our military would need to take out these jokers, I admittedly am dealing in a bit of speculation and hyperbole. However, the Iranian military lost to the Iraq’s and the Iraq’s turned tail an ran against Americans who had one had tied behind their back with stupid ROEs.

            If our military leaders were told to go after these people as if our country’s survival depended upon it, it would not take long. That’s what should be done.

            1. If Iran has the bomb or even a dirty bomb, do you think they would hesitate to use it to destroy NYC or DC? Have they left any doubt as to their intentions.

              Go back to licking asssholes at AIPAC.

  14. Scary that a return to the ideas of Kissinger is now considered isolationist.

  15. Senator Rand Paul

    Sir,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on U.S. involvement in the world, and what you believe our policies should be.

    I hope that if you are elected President of The United States of America that you will not change your mind on the position(s) you have established in this article.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to let people know where you stand on this issue.

  16. We could largely be independent of Islam, and not have to think as much about dealing with them by becoming energy independent.

    Canada, US, and Mexico have enough proven reserves, if they were allowed to be developed, to have this part of the world energy independent.

  17. Outstanding speech. These fundamental points should become a standard portion of his campaign repertoire. If they do and if he repeats them over and over again consistently, they will guarantee a degree of success in his campaign for the presidency.

    Consider:

    1 The use of force is a critical feature of our defense policy.

    2. Congress, the peoples’ representative, must authorize the use of force.

    3. Peace and security require a commitment to diplomacy and leadership.

    4. We are only as strong as our economy.

    Stick to it. The voters will come along.

    Jer

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