Rand Paul’s Foreign-Policy Flip-Flop Not Likely to Win Him Many Friends

Rand Paul’s anti-interventionism amounted to an anti-war policy. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

Rand Paul’s anti-interventionism amounted to an anti-war policy. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

In a recent article in the National Interest, Jacob Heilbrunn, its editor, notes Senator Rand Paul’s metamorphosis from your standard libertarian isolationist on all things offshore to a hawk. The man who once invoked George F. Kennan and prescribed the policy of containment that the latter applied to Russia for Iran and who opposed drones is “refurbishing his foreign-policy stands.”

In recent months, Paul seems to have experienced a conversion when it comes to intervention abroad.

Okay, we get it (the conversion of Paul the Apostle). As far as specifics:

Paul has offered a bill to cut off aid to Palestinians, reversed himself on drones—“If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him”—signed a GOP Senate letter formulated by freshman Senator Tom Cotton whose purpose was to imperil the Obama administration’s attempts to reach a nuclear agreement with Tehran, and proposed boosting defense spending.

Why? Heilbrunn:

Why is former Florida governor Jeb Bush signing on neoconservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz …? And why is Senator Marco Rubio demanding that President Obama unilaterally halt the “spread of totalitarianism” in China, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and Russia, among other countries?

Much of the answer can be traced to the fact that the GOP has, over the years, become wedded to a liberation doctrine that essentially allows its champions to present bombing and invading other countries at will as acts of supreme moral virtue.

“Republican budget hawks,” such as Paul was, writes Heilbrunn, “are running up against defense hawks. … The truth is that the triumphalist camp is resurgent, molding and shaping the general tone of the foreign-policy debate. It will be very difficult for any Republican candidate to deviate from orthodoxy during the primaries. The truth is that the triumphalist camp is resurgent, molding and shaping the general tone of the foreign-policy debate.”

When it comes to running for president, Rand Paul may have made a fatal mistake. Paul may be playing to the center of the Republican party now, but of what use is he to it if he can’t bring along the libertarians and Tea Party types that he has betrayed?