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



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.