Military Leaders Vindicate Rand Paul’s Foreign Policy

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Mon, Jun 15 - 1:31 pm EST | 3 years ago by
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Republican critics of a restrained foreign policy often resort to defining those who disagree with them as “anti-military.” The trouble with that critique is it isn’t reliably accurate. As the Washington Post recently reported, leading military strategists are presently returning to a more traditionally conservative position:

“As President Obama was weighing how to halt Islamic State advances in Iraq, some of the strongest resistance to boosting U.S. involvement came from a surprising place: a war-weary military that has grown increasingly skeptical that force can prevail in a conflict fueled by political and religious grievances.

Top military officials, who have typically argued for more combat power to overcome battlefield setbacks over the past decade, emerged in recent White House debates as consistent voices of caution in Iraq. Their shift reflects the paucity of good options and a reluctance to suffer more combat deaths in a war in which America’s political leaders are far from committed and Iraqis have shown limited will to fight.”

This swing reflects a much needed realist injection into our foreign policy debate. After a decade and a half of idealistically-driven military action under both the Bush and Obama administrations, a balance of this variety is welcome. Historically speaking, rational restraint is in fact, conservative. As Ronald Reagan explained in his autobiography, the “irrationality of Middle Eastern politics” led to his decision to withdraw troops from Lebanon and seek, as he put it, a more “neutral position” in order to save the lives of American soldiers.

Rand Paul Foreign Policy
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Today, there is only one Republican presidential candidate heeding the warnings of Reagan and current military leaders. As Rand Paul has stated, “I’m not sending one American GI to take Mosul if the Iraqis are not willing to fight for it. They need to fight. There are going to need to be boots on the ground. But the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots on the ground.”

Paul acknowledges the limitations inherent to government force, and further recognizes that actions abroad can have unintended consequences. Said Paul: “Each time we topple a secular dictator, I think we wind up with chaos, and radical Islam seems to rise.” This is a reasonable position that reflects reality, especially as it pertains to power vacuums that have led to dangerous extremism in places such as Libya and Iraq in recent years.

Thus far, the rest of the Republican presidential field appears to support the interventionist aspects of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy, with declared candidates Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio as particularly enthusiastic cheerleaders. Both Senators supported “Hillary’s War” in Libya, military action in Syria, and haven’t seen a troop reduction they deem reasonable.

Today, these Republicans say that Obama is being “weak” as his policies flounder. The interesting thing about that claim is they have supported his reckless interventions, and it’s military leaders who are arguing for caution. In fact, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter shares Paul’s view that ground forces are not required in an air campaign targeted against ISIS.

It will be fascinating to see whether members of the Republican presidential field will listen to the nation’s top military leaders and exercise caution moving forward. Ultimately, it is possible to destroy enemies who pose a threat to our homeland without simultaneously creating power vacuums abroad that lead to the rise of groups such as ISIS. The bad news for ideologically driven hawks such as Graham and Rubio is that doing so requires realist analysis and restraint.

Corie Whalen Stephens is a libertarian-conservative activist and writer based in Houston, Texas

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  • Bill

    Check-mate, Rand!

  • JimmyNelson

    I Stand With Rand

  • obolasucks!

    The fact, it took me quite a few unsuccessful tries and actually had to get another device to type this comment. (And submit it.) Is very discerning. Don’t let the Esablishment strip away Rand from what’s rightfully his. [WE ALL KNOW THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED TO RON PAUL] His father.

    • Jim Batausa

      Rand Paul will replace the present coward president. He is another coward in the mold of his father. The superpower USA will be a paper tiger if all presidents are intimidated. Rand Paul already surrender while he is still a candidate. Putin will be laughing. All of Europe will be Russia’s influence. Ourmilitary should all retire and be replaced by patriots.

    • Rick Allen

      Alright Caligula. Paul’s shift would have us focus on a defense no one could match instead of playing interventionist. Let me know where Russia will get her money to be the influence you say she is because Europe will never trust her, and the Chinese are only allies because Russia is convenient. With a 200 million man army, the Chinese will determine how long that convenience lasts.

    • Kurt

      Hey Jimmy, you are correct. Putin is laughing at us. But it’s because we are acting like that guy in the neighborhood watch, or the security “officer” patrolling the Walmart parking lot, who takes his job way to serious because he wasn’t able to join the “real deal”, being that he is cross eyed.

      Why don’t you sign up your son, grandson, or better yet yourself to be shipped off thousands of miles away to fight other peoples wars in the sand ? Show them that YOU are no coward. No Sir ! Not You !

      “All of Europe influenced by Russia” ? Did you time travel back to the 50′s or is it just that the fear/war mongers at Fox News have gotten to you ? Europe has, and always had a much better relationship with Russia than we did. Time for you to dig a little deeper, or else stay away from the ballot box. Definition of patriot : a person who loves and strongly supports or fights for his or her country. That’s what our military does every day.
      Just one problem though : For the wrong reasons.
      NO ONE but Rand Paul in 2016 !

    • George Linn

      I stand with Rand, if you haven’t figured it out yet Jimmy: one needs to have their own house in order before you try to supplant in another. A superpower that borrows from another to give aid to another is not bargaining from a position of power.

  • Matt Deckman

    they say he’s nuts, but really, it’s they who are nuts and he who is sane.

  • Charles Byrd

    I know some chest thumping warmongers who need to have this shoved in their faces.

  • Kasimir Urbanski

    Rand is one of the only candidates who actually believes in something.

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