Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday he plans to fight for a “saner” and “restrained” foreign policy that stakes out a middle ground between the way neoconservatives and isolationists see the nation’s role in the world.
Mr. Paul said that his “realist” view of the world calls for fewer soldiers and military bases overseas and for the nation to pursue targeted attacks against enemies as opposed to large-scale wars.
If military force is deemed necessary, the Kentucky Republican said that the United States “should attempt to intervene in cooperation with the host government” or require Congress to issue a formal declaration of war.
“What the United States needs now is a policy that finds that middle path. A policy that is not rash or reckless. A foreign policy that is reluctant, restrained by constitutional checks and balances but does not appease,” Mr. Paul said in a “”Restoring the Founders’ Vision of Foreign Policy” speech a the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington.
Mr. Paul told the crowd that he opposes a nuclear-armed Iran, and said the Middle Eastern nation needs to know that “all options are on the table.” “But we should not pre-emptively announce that diplomacy or containment will never be an option,” he added, as part of his call for a more robust public debate on how to handle the issue. “Let me be clear. I don’t want Iran to develop nuclear weapons, but I also don’t want to decide with certainty that war is the only option.”
“Perhaps, we might want to ask the opinion of the one million Christians who live in Syrian, many of whom fled Iraq when our Shiite allies were installed. Perhaps, we might want to ask: Will the Syrian rebels respect the rights of Christians, women, and other ethnic minorities?” he said. “In the 1980s, the war caucus in Congress armed [Osama] bin Laden and the mujaheddin in their fight with the Soviet Union. In fact, it was the official position of the State Department to support radical jihad against the Soviets. We all know how well that worked out.”
Mr. Paul called former President Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy “robust, but also restrained,” and criticized “neoconservatives” who want to claim the Reagan mantle.
“The truth is that Reagan used clear messages of communism’s evil and clear exposition of America’s strength to contain and ultimately transcend the Soviet Union,” Mr. Paul said. “The Cold War ended because the engine of capitalism defeated the engine of socialism. Reagan aided and abetted this end not by ‘liberation’ of captive people but by a combination of ‘Don’t mess with us’ language and diplomacy”