What Would a Rand Paul Libertarian Foreign Policy Look Like? (Cole @ Truthdig)

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strategy to rein in the drone program is to try to have the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution repealed.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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4 Responses

  1. No one cares about the ME and no one cares about Iraq and in time no one will care about Israel
    I support Rand and Ron Paul: if Israel wants to duke it out with Iran let them duke it out. The US has no bones about this.
    I support the constitution in that executive power has undermined the legislative branch especially when it comes to foreign policy.

    The US influence in the ME is gone and this may in the long run be better for both the US and the ME.

    Until Zionism is defeated and allows for a secular binational state to emerge in Palestine/Israel there will be no peace in the ME.

    Spending 100 billion per year to bring Afghanistan from the 14th to the 15th century is not my foreign policy nor should it be yours.

    Pox on all of their houses the Republic is infinitely more important than the stupid empire

  2. Paul’s filibuster shook the war party (GOP) down to its core. Not only did John McCain and Lindsey Graham attack him in the Senate, but William Kristol compared him to the”Code Pink faction of the Republican party.” Rand Paul went after Obama and got blasted by many of the same people who were 110% behind the war in Iraq. Those war mongers going ballistic was a beautiful thing to see.They are the real “wackos.”

  3. “he defines radicalism as support for traditional, if Draconian, laws such as the death penalty for apostasy (a law to which evangelicals with missionary ambitions in the Muslim world particularly object).”

    I am sorry Dr. Cole but this is the problem with American liberals.

    Dr. Cole, Did you ever consider that most educated, smart people in the ME would also consider death penalty for apostasy “draconian”. Or are we all pro-death blood suckers with no notion of tolerance.

    It seems to me that you would be the racist in your pretense “tolerance of the other” because you see the masses in the ME as unchanging, stagnant. Surely apostasy laws affect more than the missionaries no? How about that little Christian girl in Pakistan? Or people killed for criticizing apostasy laws who are Muslim? You must surely know that an extensive take on freedom is speech including on religious affairs in on the wish list of most educated Middle Easterners.

    Not that I like his vision of America but you keep calling Rand Paul racist but would you not agree that most smart people in the ME will prefer an aloof American President to your smart looking imperial presidents.

  4. Ultimately it’s all about the bucks.

    Years ago a Reagan cabinet official admitted in his biography that the combo of tax cuts for the rich and big hikes in military spending were meant to create a future fiscal crisis that would force the dismantling of hated liberal social programs.

    From that point on, militarism has been the most effective way for right-wingers to bleed money from social programs. It even allows them to insinuate that the supporters of the programs are sympathizers with the enemy du jour, whether Communist or Islamist.

    Up until now, this ploy by corporate and racist conservatives has been so effective that the powerless libertarian faction has been able to safely condemn military spending, with no danger that actual military cuts would flow back to helping the people that they want Darwinistically expunged from the gene pool by the infallible Invisble Hand.

    Now the country’s broke, so again there is no danger of this. But now that one of them is a senator, what is he going to specify about military cuts in the future? Any dollar amount is potentially back on the table for the benefit of all us useless pinko welfare mothers in the real America. How many kids could get Head Start from cutting a single warplane from the budget?

    Which of those two choices are more offensive to Paul’s followers would be very interesting to know. Too bad they’ll just turn it into another tax cut for the rich instead, as economically successful as all the other tax cuts they’ve gotten since America went into decline.

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