In a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. this morning, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called on the president and Congress to revert back to a constitutional, middle-of-the-road foreign policy program that focuses on containment.
“Foreign policy is complicated,” Paul said. “But there is room for foreign policy that strikes a balance.”
Labeling himself “a realist, not a neoconservative, nor an isolationist,” Paul said he believes that foreign policy should not just bring Republicans and Democrats together to deal with a crisis, as what happened post-9/11. He commented that both parties have similar endgames when it comes to foreign policy, but that “few leaders from either party have been willing to question or challenge our current foreign policy status quo.”
“What the United States needs now is a policy that finds a middle path,” commented Paul. “A policy that is not rash or reckless. A foreign policy that is reluctant, restrained by Constitutional checks and balances but does not appease. A foreign policy that recognizes the danger of radical Islam but also the inherent weaknesses of radical Islam. A foreign policy that recognizes the danger of bombing countries on what they might someday do. A foreign policy that requires, as [political scientist George] Kennan put it, ‘a long term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of . . . expansive tendencies.’ A policy that understands the “distinction between vital and peripheral interests.”
The crux of Paul’s speech focused on containment, specifically with Iran and its nuclear weapons program. He urged the federal government to take the threat of Iran’s nuclear weapons program more seriously; however, he doesn’t consider war to be a viable option. Instead, he believes that we should work with Iran’s key trading partners, including Russia and China, to help contain Iran. He does concede, however, that it is very likely that we will never be able to successfully contain the threat.
“No one, myself included, wants to see a nuclear Iran,” Paul said. “Iran does need to know that all options are on the table. But we should not pre-emptively announce that diplomacy or containment will never be an option.”
Paul also said the U.S. needs to revisit how it views radical Islam in America, as he said he believes it to be a more dangerous threat than most Americans perceive it to be. He claimed that one in five Muslims living in Britain shortly supported the 2005 London bombings, which killed 52 civilians and injured hundreds more.
He stated that radical Islam is an ideology that has a worldwide reach, and that in order for us to contain the threat we must enact a worldwide strategy. Paul also said he believes that the U.S. can’t simply deal with the threat of radical Islam by ‘glad-handing’ it, arguing that its followers have a “long and perseverant memory.”
“Radical Islam is no fleeting fad but a relentless force. Though at times stateless, radical Islam is also supported by radicalized nations such as Iran. Though often militarily weak, radical Islam makes up for its lack of conventional armies with unlimited zeal,” Paul stated.