Rand Paul

Has Rand Paul Turned Into a Neocon Hawk? Judge for Yourself by His Speech in South Carolina.

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Rand Paul campaigned in South Carolina today, a state that is strongly pro-military, benefits from defense spending (both in terms of military bases and defense contractors), and regularly sends hawkish Sen. Lindsey Graham to the Senate.

So what did Paul, who some have accused of becoming a neocon in order to try and secure the Republican presidential nomination, have to say about intervention today in South Carolina? Nothing memorable, to be honest, but certainly nothing that makes him sound like a bloodthirsty neocon, either. 

Here's an excerpt from the speech he gave on the U.S.S. Yorktown.

There is no greater responsibility for any legislator or any leader than to determine when we go to war.  The consequences are potentially ominous. That responsibility should never be given to any individual who frivolously and cavalierly calls for war.

War brings with it great obligations.

These obligations do not end when our brave young men and women return from war.  It's just the beginning.  One thing I know is true:  we owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who fight for our Bill of Rights and no one should ever forget it.

We owe the next generation of warriors, like these students from the Citadel, the wisdom to know when war is necessary and when war is not. 

I promise you this, I will never forget our veterans.  I will never forget our soldiers in the field and I vow to judge questions of war with a solemn and profound deliberation.  I will never take the country to war without just cause or without the Constitutional approval of Congress.

As commander in chief, the world will know that our object is peace but the world will not to mistake our desire for peace for passivity, the world should not mistake reluctance for inaction.

And if war should prove unavoidable, America will fight with overwhelming force and we will not relent until victory is ours.

Behind me is the USS Yorktown. The shipmen on the original USS Yorktown were silent as they watched the ship known as "The Fighting Lady" sink to the depths of the Pacific during the Battle of Midway. "The sea was a mass of bobbing heads," wrote a reporter for LIFE magazine. "There was little conversation, no hysteria." 

Over a hundred sailors died that day.  Is it any wonder that people who have served in combat are usually more circumspect than those who have never fought.

The men of the USS Yorktown were on the front lines. They knew better than anyone in Washington the sacrifice necessary to protect liberty. They didn't talk about strength and courage; they lived it. They did not seek war, but were fiercely resolute when called to fight.

I believe that the men and women protecting our liberty deserve leaders who are accountable to the American people.

The crew of the USS Yorktown understood that our freedom and prosperity must be defended against those who would attack us. They learned the terrible lesson that war is not a game and should not be used for political advantage.  

Too many lawmakers in Washington haven't learned that lesson.

Over the past few months, Paul has called for keeping foreign aid flowing to Israel (which he once opposed), called for attacking the Islamic State, signed a letter to Iran drafted by hardcore interventionist Sen. Tom Cotton, and called for increased defense funding (something he once opposed). Such things are disappointing, but none makes him a Cheney-style neocon and nothing in his speech today suggests that he's busy beating his ploughshares into swords.

Watch the speech via C-SPAN.

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  1. Over the past few months, Paul has called for keeping foreign aid flowing to Israel (which he once opposed), called for attacking the Islamic State, signed a letter to Iran drafted by hardcore interventionist Sen. Tom Cotton, and called for increased defense funding (something he once opposed).

    See, Gillespie can “editorialize” because he is an editor.

  2. This is going to be a long election cycle. Maybe I’ll try inventing a new type of alcoholic beverage.

    1. Watch the speech via C-SPAN.

      I rest my case.

      Now, to find some interesting fermentables….

      1. I am experimenting with ginger beer.

    2. I might have to cut back on H&R. My brain already hurts.

  3. I think it’s a pretty good speech. By the way, over in the Chapman thread, Eddie posted this speech that Chapman used to go after Paul as ‘not libertarian enough’ since Paul talked about ‘liberal elites’ attacking Christianity.

    As Eddie rightfully pointed out, that’s one sentence from a very long speech and the rest of the speech is spent criticizing actual murderous attacks against Christians and arguing that the US actually made the situation worse by invading Iraq. For example:

    “During the Iraq War, over a quarter-million Iraqi Christians fled Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator but his government was secular and therefore relatively safe for Christians. Christians, however, feared the Shiite government that we helped put in place after Saddam, and they fled in droves.

    Where did these Christians go? They headed mostly for Syria, joining the over one million Syrians who have lived as Christians since the time of Christ.

    Now, the senate is attempting to arm the rebel forces in Syria, many of whom are Al Qaeda or affiliates. They do so out of a misguided attempt to stop the violence in Syria.”

    He’s criticizing American nation building and the arming of insurgents in a foreign civil war. Can Chapman explain how he could look at that speech and conclude that Rand Paul is No True Libertarian because of one sentence about liberal elites?

    1. Because of PM&AS;.

    2. Multi-paragraph quotation rule, how does that work?

      1. Multi-paragraph quotation rule, how does that work?

        Better with a quotation bar?

    3. Its an interesting point.

      If you look at the consequences of what we’ve done in the ME, it sure looks like we are persecuting Christians ourselves.

      We strip them of a government that at least tolerated them, in favor of one likely to persecute them. Then, when they flee, we arm the people in their new country who are persecuting them.

  4. Overall not bad, but this gets under my skin:

    One thing I know is true: we owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who fight for our Bill of Rights and no one should ever forget it.

    I doubt our military involvement anywhere in the world has a single thing to do with the Bill of Rights.

    1. If they were fighting for our Bill of Rights, they’d be organizing a coup right about now.

    2. It’s an interesting bit of rhetoric. He knows it isn’t true, but he’s seeking to position liberty as the thing that’s worth fighting for, rather than safety or kicking the Ayatollah’s ass or whatever.

    3. No. But I think a lot of the actual soldiers on the ground probably think that they are in some way fighting for that. Not sure if that is worth a whole lot, but those who do think that deserve some respect. But respect is about the best I can do. I can’t muster any gratitude for people fighting fights I’d rather not be involved in at all.

  5. He didn’t say anything objectionable and it’s about as non-hawkish as you can reasonably expect a Republican to be.

    Wars are bad, wars are a big deal, we should avoid them, but if we do find ourselves in one the US will kick ass.

  6. Question for the commentariat:

    If you had to choose between a neocon hawk who was pretty effing good on domestic issues (tax reform, entitlement reform, drastic cuts to non-military spending, etc.) and

    A garden-variety big spending politician on the domestic front, who was going to drastically cut military spending and overseas ops/commitments.

    Which would you go with?

    1. A shack in Montana.

    2. Not sure either of those two theoretical individuals could exist.

    3. I think the right choice is whoever results in a split government. Vote for gridlock.

    4. The nice thing is…I don’t have to choose between them. My choice is neither.

    5. What are their respective positions on gay pizza?

    6. Well, that worked about as well as I expected.

    7. #2. Wars are what bankrupts nations. Annoying welfare state bullshit is retarded, but it’s less dangerous financially.

      1. Not true in America’s case. The forecasts are clear: the military spending is going to be dwarfed by the ballooning entitlement state.

        1. It already is.

          In the President’s proposed budget, Social Security, unemployment, and labor is 33%, Medicare is 27%, and defense is 16% of the Federal budget.

    8. To say nothing of the moral considerations.

      1. Yeah, a lot of people seems to overlook innocent lives being lost when most of them aren’t Americans. Even a justified war is going to cause a lot of injustice on the individual level. You have to weigh that carefully, I think, if you want to play that game.

    9. #1. We can recover from stupid wars and maybe President War will fight a correct war correctly. America cannot recover from welfare-palooza.

    10. I could maybe vote for the reincarnation of Goldwater. Is that what you had in mind?

  7. When he is just talking about foreign policy he really is very close to what he’s always said, he is just making sure he can’t lose to “Team America Fuck Yeah!” kind of attacks.

    In my fantasy world he’d be talking about cutting defense budget instead of increasing it, but really I don’t know if he can afford to not do this kind of pandering.

    1. In my fantasy world he’d be talking about cutting defense budget instead of increasing it

      Yes and no, for me. Here is what is going on.

      The hardware the military has has been chewed up and spit out over the last 14 years and two+ worthless misguided wars. The shit was literally falling apart years ago, when I was still in. As far as the aircraft go, they’ve all overflown their anticipated useful life spans. I’m sure it’s the same in the Army and Navy. Whatever else happens, a portion, if not all, of that hardware needs to be replaced.

      Responsibly reducing the size of the military requires an adjustment to the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy and the National Military Strategy BEFORE implementing cuts to the forces themselves. These long term objectives drive the size of the force by describing what it is the military needs to be capable of doing. (Remember, things like fight a major war on two fronts plus a brushfire…back in the Reagan days?)

      The military could be cut by at least 50% if the NSS, NDS and NMS were molded to defensive posture rather than one of force projection and the force built around that objective. Just cutting, without addressing what and why you’re cutting is as irresponsible as cutting nothing. I think Rand knows this and wants to return to an effects driven system.

  8. I do not know. Is there any space to occupy between neocon hawk and utopian absolute pacifist?

    1. Not in Reasonland. You’re either with the peacenazis or you’re a dirty NEOCON.

  9. The proposed defense increase has zero chance of becoming reality and Paul knows it.

    Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling and lamented the irresponsibility of leaving mountains of debt to future generations. You know, because it was good political posturing. How many progressives have held Obama to any of his campaign promises? But boy, they sure do love calling out Paul for what really wasn’t even a contradiction.

    You are not making it out of the Republican primary alive if you are viewed as a dove. And the only way to get in the White House as a libertarian is through the Republican Party (an extreme long shot). Libertarian purists would ask Paul to nuke any chance of victory so he can put out some empty words with no weight behind them.

    Paul is nominally against defense spending because its fiscally irresponsible at this point. His plan (a political non-starter) cut spending elsewhere to make up for the costs of the proposed increase. That’s not really hawkish behavior.

  10. “Paul is nominally against defense spending because its fiscally irresponsible at this point. His plan (a political non-starter) cut spending elsewhere to make up for the costs of the proposed increase.”

    But then he can’t touch the safety-net spending, or else he’ll be crucified by the MSM. “Rand Paul wants to take food away from poor kids to build more bombs!” Good luck in the general election after that.

  11. As commander in chief, the world will know that our object is peace

    I thought it was Paul, not the world, that was seeking to become commander-in-chief.

  12. Obama was a dove before Presidency too. Rand is already slanting hawkish in a hawkish party (not that there’s any appreciable difference between them). There’s no doubt if he were to take the reigns absolutely nothing would change other than skin color. It will be Bush’s 5th term. And will be Bush’s 5th term with Hillary at the helm too.

    And that’s the TRUTH.

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