My essay, “What Would a Rand Paul Libertarian Foreign Policy Look Like?”, is out at Truthdig
“On Saturday, Paul emerged as the winner of the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. Although none of the straw poll winners has gone on to become president, Paul can’t be ruled out as a GOP standard-bearer in 2016.
But what would a libertarian foreign policy look like? Would it be, as Paul’s critics say, merely a retreat into isolationism?
Paul most recently made headlines with his nearly 13-hour filibuster of the confirmation of CIA Director John Brennan, an architect of the Obama administration’s drone program. He wanted assurances that the administration forswore the use of drones against U.S. citizens on American soil. His longer-term strategy to rein in the drone program is to try to have the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution repealed. Paul complains that the resolution is far too expansive and has authorized U.S. involvement in “20 countries.”
Paul’s strand of libertarianism, insofar as it deeply distrusts big government, typically opposes policies that increase the size and power of government, chief among them ones pertaining to war. He insists that Congress must authorize going to war, and he opposed the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya on those grounds. Paul, however, rejects the label “isolationist,” and his vision of the challenges facing the United States has an Islamophobic tinge to it. He underscores that the problem is not with Islam as a religion or with the Muslim mainstream, but with radical, political Islam.
However, Paul does not see the latter as a tiny fringe. Rather he views what he calls Islamic radicalism as a large element in the Muslim world and among Muslims in the West, perhaps even a plurality. He lumps in conservative, pro-American Saudi Arabia with anti-American guerrilla groups such as the Taliban, and Iran’s theocratic Shiite state with the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president in Egypt.
The front-burner issue that is now at the most risk of igniting hostilities is Iran and its civilian nuclear enrichment program, which Washington and Tel Aviv insist is aimed at producing a nuclear warhead. Iran’s supreme theocrat, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has forbidden the construction, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons as incompatible with Islamic law, but his denials are discounted by Washington hawks and the Israel lobbies….
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