Rebuttal of Rand Paul’s straw man claims
The National Review has recently published an article by Sen. Rand Paul wherein the junior Kentucky Senator falsely claims that there is no room allowed for disagreement on foreign policy in the GOP; that we defense conservatives have a “either you’re with us or against us” mentality; that he’s displaying some foreign policy nuance and strategic ambiguity that we fail to appreciate; and then spends the rest of his op-ed railing against the Iraq war, quoting William Buckley’s opposition to it, as if it were the only thing he disagrees with defense conservatives on.
Needless to say, he’s dead wrong on all counts.
As I refute his claims, I shall speak directly to him in this article.
Senator, you claim that:
“You are either for us or against us. No middle ground is acceptable. The Wilsonian ideologues must have democracy worldwide now and damn all obstacles to that utopia.”
That is completely false. No conservative that I know of is saying that, or advocating that the US try to democratize the world (and BTW, THIS hawkish conservative is a sworn opponent of democracy.) Stop making straw man claims, Senator.
Perhaps you are confusing conservatives with the liberals in the Obama admin who, everyday, sip coffee in the WH, point their fingers at a world map, and say which country should be invaded next
As for the Iraq war, it was indeed an error, and I opposed it from the start. But your foreign policy differences with us conservatives hardly end with the Iraq war – they barely begin with it, contrary to your false claim that:
“Foreign policy, the interventionist critics claim, has no place for nuance or realism.”
No, Senator. What you are displaying is neither nuance nor realism. What you are displaying is a LIBERAL policy of appeasement of America’s enemies and support for unilaterally disarming the US, and when you are justly criticized for those policies, you backtrack somewhat, thus making yourself sound totally incoherent.
There is a BIG difference between nuance and incoherence.
You are displaying neither nuance or realism. You are displaying a staunch disagreement and break with the entire GOP and the entire conservative movement on the whole gamut of foreign and defense policy issues.
You support deep, crippling defense cuts, up to and even beyond sequestration. You claim defense spending hasn’t been cut nearly enough. You have railed on liberal TV networks against Republicans who disagree. You support closing virtually all US bases abroad (which are crucial for power projection and for reassuring America’s allies) and dramatically cutting equipment spending. You advocate containment of Iran.
You accuse Dick Cheney, most people on the Congressional defense committees, and anyone who advocates striking Iran, of being war-profiteering warmongers. You have claimed that sanctions provoked Japan to attack Pearl Harbor. You were one of the very few Senators to vote AGAINST sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, and one of only four GOP Senators (along RINO Dick Shelby, RINO Thad Cochran, and Nebraska’s Mike Johanns) to vote to confirm Chuck Hagel.
You have even claimed that a nuclear-armed Iran would not be a threat to the US or even to Israel. You also consistently oppose all of the Bush admin’s war on terrorism policies that have proven very successful in eliminating terrorists: drones, effective interrogation techniques, GITMO, and so forth.
In one of your recent op-eds for WaPo, just as Russia was beginning to invade Ukraine, you claimed Obama’s appeasement (reset) policy towards Moscow was working very well and “we ought to be proud of that”, and you blamed any troubles in the relationship solely on your fellow Republicans, whom you falsely accused of being “so stuck in the Cold War that they want to tweak Russia.” You whitewashed Russia and absolved it of any blame and urged Americans to be “respectful” towards Moscow.
No, Senator, you are not displaying any “nuance” or “strategic ambiguity” on foreign policy, you are displaying utter ignorance, recklessness, and incoherence at best, and your father’s repugnant Blame America First, Second, and Third beliefs at worst.
You have falsely claimed that your refusal to say clearly whether you would or would not rule out the containment of Iran amounts to “strategic ambiguity” and have wrongly invoked Ronald Reagan as someone who would’ve endorsed such lack of clarity.
Strategic ambiguity means being ambigous about the strategy you’ll employ to achieve your goals – but not about what the goals themselves are. Ronald Reagan was never unclear about those and articulated them clearly, in public and in private. His goal was nothing short of sending Communism and the Soviet Union “to the ash heap of history.”
Your lack of clarity on one of the most important foreign policy issues of our time – whether or not to try to contain Iran – has nothing to do with “nuance” or strategic ambiguity” and would send absolutely the wrong signal to friend and foe alike. America’s allies in the Persian Gulf would be in the dark on whether or not the US, under your leadership (should you be elected President), would stop Iran’s nuclear program. America’s foes would be emboldened by such lack of clarity and would continually test your – and America’s – patience with ever-graver provocations.
Fortunately, as AmSpec’s Jed Babbin says, you stand NO chance of ever getting elected President. A man of your extremely-leftist views stands zero chance of ever being elected President. No matter when you run, you will be justly clobbered, if not in the primaries then in the general election. Because even if you do somehow win the Republican nomination, you will definitely lose in the general election, as nominating you will disenfranchise tens of millions of pro-defense voters.
You might want to take that into account when you decide whether to run for President in 2015-2016 – which will be the biggest decision of your life.