During his Senate campaign, Rand Paul walked a careful line on foreign policy: he shared his father’s basic skepticism of interventionism but tried to be much more respectful of the majority viewpoint within the Republican Party. Sometimes that led him to state his positions differently from his father; sometimes it led him to take different positions than his father.
So it was interesting to read the Kentucky senator’s statement on President Obama’s Middle East speech. As expected, Paul slammed Obama’s liberal interventionism: “Our mistakes in foreign policy have always been from hubris. We somehow believe that we can dictate the policies of the world, and enforce them with our military and economic strength. While this might sound like a good idea to many, it has its limits and its consequences.” Yet even in opposing the Libya war, Paul took a pro-Israel line: “For example, instead of seeking proper authority from Congress and the Constitution to go to war with Libya, President Obama empowered the United Nations and the Arab League, two bodies that together endanger the security and sovereignty of our ally Israel.”
Senator Paul continued his criticism of Obama’s stance on Israel:
It is the United Nations who is threatening to impose a Palestinian state without a guarantee of safety for Israel. It is members of the Arab League who foment hostilities or refuse to recognize the right to safety and security of Israel.
But far worse than that, today it was an American President who stood before the world and once again demanded Israel act against her own strategic interest in the name of a false peace.
Peace from weakness or peace from outside coercion of Israel is a fool’s errand. Unfortunately, the President today proved himself willing to play that fool.
Israel and her enemies have fought wars for the better part of the past 60 years. And terror-supporting countries in the region have spent the better part of those years feigning interest in peace while lobbing rockets across borders.
For President Obama to stand up today and insist that Israel should once again give up land, security and sovereignty for the possibility of peace shows an arrogance that is unmatched even in our rich history of foreign policy.
Paul then concludes on a noninterventionist note:
I agree with the President. This is in fact a moment of opportunity. It is time to seize control of our foreign policy from those who have spent the past decade policing the world, trying in vain to build nations after destroying them, and bankrupting our children and grandchildren in the process.
This opportunity will pass us by if we simply repeat the same mistakes, over again.
UPDATE: Ron Paul’s statement is strikingly similar, with some twists (the elder Paul is tougher in his antiwar language and hints he thinks it might be in Israel’s long-term interests to voluntarily make concessions).