“I’ve been trying to say that for the last four years of public life that I’m I’m neither an isolationist nor an interventionist. I’m someone who believes in the Constitution and believes America should have a strong national defense and believes that we should defend ourselves. But when we do it, we should do it the way the Constitution intended. That’s the President should come before Congress and make the case for war.”
“There’s a big difference between that and between doing it unilaterally. And I think the example of Libya, with both Hillary’s support and President Obama’s support shows all the unintended consequences when they around the Constitution.”
I don’t disagree we should respect Constitutional channels, but objectively speaking, this is just political posturing and an attempt to define his position as diametrically opposed to that of both Mrs. Clinton and the administration. Which is smart. But his argument seems to hinge on the fact that we would not be in this nightmare of a foreign policy situation had President Obama gone to Congress. Perhaps he’s right. He continued:
“If I had been president, I would’ve called a joint session of Congress this August, brought everybody back from recess and said, “This is what why ISIS is a threat to the country. This is why I want to act, but I want to do it in a Constitutional manner. And I want the entire American public to come together, to galvanize support and say, you know what? This is something we can’t take.””
Buried in his suggestions was the observation that we might still have the upper hand had President Obama treated these groups (like ISIS) as a threat as opposed to emboldening them and their allies. Small point to be sure, but certainly helps to bolster Paul’s argument that Congressional approval and an actual declaration of war would’ve prevented this our current middle eastern predicament.
The Hoover Institute has a great read on the dangerousness of libertarian isolationism and further explores Paul’s argument that intervention lead to the the uprising of ISIS.
Senator Paul has been against the use of military force for a long time. Over the summer, he wrote an article entitled “America Shouldn’t Choose Sides in Iraq’s Civil War,” for the pages of the Wall Street Journal arguing that ISIS did not threaten vital American interests. Just this past week, he doubled down on this position, again in the Journal, arguing that the past interventions of the United States in the Middle East have abetted the rise of ISIS.
His argument for this novel proposition is that the United States should not have sought to degrade Bashar Assad’s regime because that effort only paved the way for the rise of ISIS against whom Assad, bad as he is, is now the major countervailing force. Unfortunately, this causal chain is filled with missing links. The United States could have, and should have, supported the moderate opposition to Assad by providing it with material assistance, and, if necessary, air support, so that it could have been a credible threat against Assad, after the President said Assad had to go over three years ago. The refusal to get involved allowed Assad to tackle the moderates first in the hope that the United States would give him a pass to tackle ISIS, or, better still, even assist him in its demise, as we might well have to do….
It is instructive to ask why it is that committed libertarians like Paul make such disastrous judgments on these life and death issues. In part it is because libertarians often have the illusion of certainty in political affairs that is congenial to the logical libertarian mind. This mindset has led to their fundamental misapprehension of the justified use of force in international affairs. The applicable principles did not evolve in a vacuum, but are derived from parallel rules surrounding self-defense for ordinary people living in a state of nature. Libertarian theory has always permitted the use and threat of force, including deadly force if need be, to defend one’s self, one’s property, and one’s friends….
Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker had this to say:
I confess to being agnostic, at the moment, on Rand Paul. While I am leaning increasingly in libertarian direction myself, I am worried by what appears to me to be an underweighting of nature of the security threats we face, even as I, too, chafe at the surveillance state that has been created as a supposed remedy to the terror threat (as compared to, say, identifying without apology the nature of the Islamic threat we face and a focus on Islam as a risk factor in assessing security concerns. Calling violent jihad a “perversion of a Great Religion” ignores a lot of history of Islamic conquest and amounts to wishful thinking).
Senator Paul has a way to go before he convinces me he has awoken to the severe security threats we face from Islam, and from other aggressive powers, such as Russia and China, for that matter. But I cannot write him off completely, if only because he has demonstrated an appeal to nontraditional GOP voters, such as students at UC Berkeley.
The GOP absolutely has to have a champion who can enlarge the tent, if only because the electorate has been (and continues to be) deliberately engineered in the direction of people dependent on government checks and therefore willing voters for high taxes that they don’t pay in order to fund their receipt of money earned by other people. We have perhaps one or two more presidential election cycles and naturalization ceremonies before we have a permanent majority of dependents, and we need to win over the younger generation who have been so badly betrayed by the president they overwhelmingly voted for.
The ball in now in Rand Paul’s court. I hope he will expand on his views of national security.
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