Rand Paul on Foreign Policy



Let those in the Middle East fight the battles there

I'm not sending our sons and our daughters back to Iraq. The war didn't work. We can amplify those who live there.

The Kurds deserve to be armed and I'll arm them. But the boots on the ground need to be the people who live there. Why are we always the world's patsies that we have to go over there and fight their wars for them? We need to defend American interests, but it is not in America's national security interests to have another war in Iraq.

Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

Quit sending aid to countries who hate us

Q: The first budget your proposed as senator cut all financial aid to Israel. You have since changed your view on that issue. What made you change your mind?

PAUL: I've said I would cut spending, and I've said exactly where. Each one of my budgets has taken a meat axe to foreign aid, because I think we ought to quit sending it to countries that hate us. I think we ought to quit sending it to countries that burn our flag. Israel is not one of those. But even Benjamin Netanyahu said that ultimately, they will be stronger when they're independent. My position is exactly the same. We shouldn't borrow money from China to send it anywhere, but why don't we start with eliminating aid to our enemies.

Q: OK, but you still say that Israel could be one of the countries that is cut from financial aid?

PAUL: Out of your surplus, you can help your allies, and Israel is a great ally. And this is no particular animus of Israel, but we cannot give away money we don't have.

Source: Fox News/Facebook Top Ten First Tier debate transcript , Aug 6, 2015

U.S. intervention in Libya strengthened Islamic State

Q: Some of your Republican critics argue that you are actually to the left of Hillary Clinton on foreign policy, that she's more hawkish than you are.

PAUL: Interestingly, many of the hawks in my party line right up with President Obama. The war that Hillary prominently promoted in Libya, many of the hawks in my party were right there with her. Their only difference was in degree. They wanted to go into Libya as well. Some of the hawks in my party, you can't find a place on the globe they don't want boots on the ground.

Q: And that's their point, that you're to the left of all them.

PAUL: No, my point is, is that they are actually agreeing with Hillary Clinton and agreeing with Pres. Obama that the war in Libya was a good idea. I'm not agreeing with either one of them. I'm saying that that war made us less safe, that it allowed radical Islam to rise up in Libya. There are now large segments of Libya that are pledging allegiance to ISIS, supplying arms to the Islamic rebels in the Syrian war.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 12, 2015

Boycott countries that demonize women, like Saudi Arabia

Q: Hillary Clinton's getting into this race. You have been comfortable bringing up a lot of her past and saying that it should be thought about and debated. Why?

A: I think the thing about the Clintons is that there's this grand hypocrisy in the sense that we've got this war on women thing that they like to talk about. And yet Hillary Clinton has taken money from countries that rape victims are publicly lashed. In Saudi Arabia, a woman was gang raped by seven men. She was publicly lashed 90 times. And then she was convicted of being in the car with an unmarried man. We should be voluntarily boycotting a country, not buying stuff from a country that does that to women.

Q: What would you say to Hillary on that?

A: I would expect Clinton--if she believes in women's rights--she should be calling for a boycott of Saudi Arabia. Instead, she's accepting tens of millions of dollars. And I think it looks unseemly. And there's going to be some explaining she's going to have to come up with.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 12, 2015

Stand with Israel Act: no US funds to Palestinian Authority

Israeli cafes and buses are bombed, towns are victimized by hundreds of rockets, and its citizens are attacked by Palestinian terrorists. It's time we took a stand for Israel by standing up to the enemies of Israel, the enemies that murder Israeli citizens.

That's why I proposed a bill called the "Stand with Israel Act" to cut off the flow of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority. As long as the Palestinian Authority is allied with Hamas not one more tax dollar should flow to them.

Source: 2016 presidential campaign website, RandPaul.com, "Issues" , Apr 7, 2015

2011: eliminate all foreign aid & rebuild America instead

Rand Paul's campaign strategy is to eliminate the widespread suspicion that Paul is an isolationist echo of his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian icon who frequently inveighed against US intervention overseas. Paul may lose support from some libertarians who supported his father's past campaigns; the goal, though, is to get enough support from enough slices of various constituencies--libertarians who are willing to compromise, conservatives who are tired of war, & maybe even some Democrats-- to help power him through the race.

Early in his Senate career, Paul was clearly influenced by his father's views. In 2011, he proposed eliminating all foreign aid, including to Israel, insisting: "I just don't think you can give other people's money away when we can't rebuild bridges in our country." As he seeks the presidency, facing a wide and varied GOP field that includes candidates with far more hawkish views, Paul has backed off on his past support for ending U.S. aid to Israel

Source: Politico.com 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 7, 2015

Crazy for North Korea to use force; we'd declare war

Some argue that North Korea and Iran could be emboldened if the United States elects not to use force against Assad in Syria. This is simply not true. North Korea sits atop a stockpile of weapons in close proximity to tens of thousands of US troops. If Pyongyang ever used these weapons against our troops, they would see a massive response from the US. The American people would be united, and Congress would declare war in a heartbeat. For anyone to think otherwise--be they a hawkish American pundit or a North Korean despot--is crazy.

Likewise, Iran--or any nation developing nuclear weaponry--should not doubt the military strength and unified approach of the American people toward the terrorizing of US citizens and allies. Nor should these nations doubt that international resolve will coalesce and extract harsh penalties on nations that pursue these activities. Ultimately, the US cannot and will not take any option off the table in order to protect Israel and other regional democracies.

Source: 2015 official Senate website www.paul.senate.gov , Jan 15, 2015

Where do Ron and Rand Paul disagree on foreign issues?

Where Ron Paul and Rand Paul agree on Foreign issues
  • Both oppose Iraq War
  • Both oppose Cuban embargo
  • Both agree on rights for Guantanamo detainees
  • Both agree on non-intervention abroad
  • Both oppose the TSA
  • Both oppose the United Nations
Where they disagree:Ron PaulRand Paul
Iran:Stay out of Iran Keep options on Iran
Israel:Cut off all aid Maintain alliance
Privacy vs National Security:Privacy first against terrorismSpying on terrorists ok
Foreign aid:End foreign aid Limit foreign aid
Military Spending:Cut absolute defense spendingCut relative defense spending
Source: Analysis: Ron Paul vs. Rand Paul on the Issues , Jan 1, 2015

Good idea to end Cuba embargo; it hasn't worked

Paul became the first potential Republican presidential candidate to offer some support for President Barack Obama's decision to try to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba. The president's surprise announcement was slammed by several potential GOP candidates, including Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, who said it amounted to appeasing the Castro regime.

Paul said in a radio interview that many younger Cuban Americans support opening up trade with Cuba. He also said many U.S. farmers would back Obama's moves because the country is a new market for their crops.

"The 50-year embargo just hasn't worked," Paul said. "If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn't seem to be working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship. In the end, I think opening up Cuba is probably a good idea," he said. Paul's comments parallel those of Hillary Clinton.

Source: Ken Thomas on Associated Press, "Trade with Cuba" , Dec 18, 2014

50-year embargo with Cuba hasn't worked; lift it

In a radio interview, Sen. Rand Paul took a very different tack from his Republican colleagues in responding to President Obama's decision to reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba. Paul told Tom Roten, a radio host in Huntington WV:

Q: What are your thoughts on the president's deal here with Cuba?

PAUL: I grew up in a family that was about as anti-Communist as you could come by. And when we first opened up trade with China we were thinking it was a bad idea. But over time, I've come to believe that trading with China is the best way to actually, ultimately, defeat Communism. You know, the 50-year embargo with Cuba just hasn't worked. I mean, if the goal was regime change, it sure doesn't seem to be working. And probably it punishes the people more than the regime, because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship. And if there's open trade, I think the people will see all the things that we produce under capitalism. So in the end, I think probably opening up Cuba is a good idea.

Source: National Journal 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Dec 18, 2014

Normalizing relations with Cuba can lead to positive change

Sen. Paul launched a social-media assault on Sen. Rubio about reopening US diplomatic relations with Cuba. Rubio cast the first stone: After Paul asserted earlier in the day that opening up trade with Cuba is "probably a good idea," Rubio said that Paul "has no idea what he's talking about."

Paul then posted this message on Facebook: "Senator Marco Rubio believes the embargo against Cuba has been ineffective, yet he wants to continue perpetuating failed policies. After 50 years of conflict, why not try a new approach? I believe engaging Cuba can lead to positive change. Seems to me, Senator Rubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism. Finally, let's be clear that Senator Rubio does not speak for the majority of Cuban-Americans. A recent poll demonstrates that a large majority of Cuban-Americans actually support normalizing relations between our countries.

Source: National Journal 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Dec 18, 2014

Temporary stop on elective travel to fight Ebola

Q: Is the government following the right policies on Ebola?

PAUL: I think the president's biggest mistake was saying," oh, it's no big deal, you can't catch it if you're sitting on a bus. And we're not going to stop any travel." It's very contagious when someone is sick. I don't think anybody should be riding on a bus or coming from Liberia to visit when they could be contagious. So, I think a temporary stop of travel for elective travel, if you're coming to visit your relatives, couldn't that wait for a few months?

Do you think we ought to tighten the restrictions on who can come to this country?

PAUL: From the beginning of our country, we always had restrictions on infectious disease. That was one of the primary things we did at our border. Commercial travel for people who just want to visit the US, that really isn't a necessity, and we can wait few months on it. And it would make our problem a lot less if we were only thinking about health care workers coming back.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 2, 2014

No quarantine on returning Ebola doctors unless symptomatic

Q: What about mandatory quarantines for health care workers who return to the U.S. after treating Ebola patients in Africa?

PAUL: It depends on your stage of the disease. Quarantine is a tough question, because the libertarian in me is horrified at the idea of indefinitely detaining anyone without a trial. One of our basic rights is habeas corpus: if anybody was detaining you, you have recourse to a lawyer and to a judgment.

Q: She had a lawyer. They filed suit to get her out of New Jersey. Now she's in Maine and again saying, "I am not contagious."

PAUL: Well, I think common sense would say that it makes a different whether or not you're febrile, afebrile or asymptomatic.

Q: She doesn't have a fever.

PAUL: Right. When you're febrile, you're beginning to be contagious. And so there is a reasonable public concern. I think that we have to be very careful of people's civil liberties, but I'm also not saying that the government doesn't have a role in trying to prevent contagion.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 2, 2014

GOP hawks fear my world view, but Americans support it

On the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal, Rand Paul has been accused of "bark-at-the-moon lunacy." (Paul's meeting last fall with The Journal's editorial board quickly went sour. People who attended described the meeting as awkwardly contentious-- until Rupert Murdoch, the newspaper's owner, walked into the room and brought down the temperature.) The headline on a column last month in the National Review asked: "Rand Paul's Foreign Policy: For the Situation Room or the Dorm Room?" The reason the attacks are so personal and so hostile, Paul said, is that Republicans who favor more American involvement in the world fear that his view, not theirs, is gaining support. "The country is moving in my direction," he said.
Source: NY Times 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 24, 2014

Neocons are neoisolationist: 'all should behave like us'

Paul bristles at an adjective often used to describe his foreign policy: isolationist. "Not only am I for being involved, I'm actually for more involvement than the neocons," he said, referring to the branch of conservatism that supports an interventionist foreign policy. "The neocons are really neoisolationists," he added, "in the sense that they are so hardened--that everybody should behave like us, and everybody in the world should be in our image--that they discount the concept of looking at things realistically and negotiating with people who don't have our point of view."

Paul often complains that his worldview is caricatured by people who are eager to cast him as a clone of his father, former Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who is deeply suspicious of American involvement overseas. "They start out with a mischaracterization of his point of view, bastardize it, make it worse," the senator said.

Source: NY Times 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 24, 2014

Eventually end all foreign aid, but unrealistic for now

The issue of aid to Israel also came up last year in a meeting with the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Members pressed the senator, and he conceded that while he would eventually like to terminate all foreign aid, he knew that would not be realistic now. "You could see he was a work in progress," said a member of the Jewish coalition's board. "He's thinking about these issues; he's trying to learn."

Part of Paul's strategy is to appear before audiences that are not necessarily friendly to him, such as the Heritage Foundation, where he left the impression that he knew he must evolve.

Some observers say this is the evolution of a savvy politician with presidential ambitions. Paul says it is more like a slow reveal. "I've been expressing gradually where my foreign policy is," he said. "Foreign policy isn't set in stone. It isn't either-or. And it isn't always right or wrong."

Source: NY Times 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 24, 2014

We don't need grandstanding tough talk against Russia

Sen. Rand Paul may not be a foreign policy hawk but he is a political one. He wrote, in a recent critique of his Republican colleagues: "What we don't need right now is politicians who have never seen war talking tough for the sake of their political careers." Paul was talking about grandstanding responses to the Ukraine crisis. It wasn't a pinprick attack about a policy disagreement: Sen. Paul is claiming his rivals--ignorant to the sacrifices of war--are too cavalier about committing American troops to foreign conflicts in their rush to make a name for themselves. He made this point in an essay where he also charged these performance hawks with misappropriating Ronald Reagan's legacy, a special desecration in a party where the 40th president is revered.

It wasn't immediately clear who Paul was attacking. He did not name names, but that may simply have been because he had too many targets. He could have been referring to several of his potential rivals for the presidency.

Source: CBS News 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 11, 2014

My worldview: engage both friend and foe in dialogue

People sometimes ask me what my worldview is. I really am a believer that foreign policy must be viewed by events as they present themselves, not as we wish them to be. The world of foreign policy has been turned on its head in the past decade.

I believe the answers to most problems that confront us around the world can and should be approached by engaging both friend and foe in dialogue. No, I don't naively think that dialogue always works, but I believe we should avoid the rigidity of saying that dialogue never works. I believe we should approach diplomacy from the notion that dialogue is nearly always preferable to war but that potential enemies should never mistake, as Reagan put it, our reluctance for war, with a lack of resolve.

I consider foreign policy to be an unending process of learning and that I am very open to learning new ideas, whether they are indeed new, or maybe just new to me.

Source: Rand Paul OpEd in The National Interest , Jan 16, 2014

Prioritize embassy security to avoid another Benghazi

Numerous reports have documented the security failures that resulted in the tragic deaths of four Americans at the consulate in Benghazi. The failures of management that led to these decisions are reprehensible; the lapses in judgment indefensible.

One of the most troubling aspects of the Benghazi attack is the complete disregard that State Department leadership gave to the repeated requests for enhanced security. Should funding have been an issue, the State Department always has the option available to come to Congress for approval to transfer funds within accounts. No requests for reprogramming were made by the State Department.

In addition to increasing diplomatic security accounts in this budget, I have supported legislation to provide the State Department transfer authority to prioritize diplomatic security at our embassies around the world. However, it is worth noting that this money will only be effective if it is responsibly managed by officials at the State Department.

Source: A Clear Vision to Revitalize America, by Rand Paul, p. 42 , Oct 1, 2013

No isolationism; but don't go abroad seeking enemies

America's national security mandate shouldn't be one that reflects isolationism, but instead one that is not rash or reckless, a foreign policy that is reluctant, restrained by Constitutional checks and balances but does not appease; this balance should heed the advice of America's sixth president, John Quincy Adams, who advised, "America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."
Source: A Clear Vision to Revitalize America, by Rand Paul, p. 37 , Oct 1, 2013

Against terror but first comes preserving the Constitution

Christie denounced the effort to pull back on anti-terror measures as "dangerous" and warned that those--like Paul--who are attempting to craft an American retreat from the world are playing with fire. Paul immediately fired back at Christie saying he's against terror but only wants to preserve the Constitution. But he's made it clear that what he wants is a massive pullback of efforts to seek out and fight Islamist terrorists as well as a general retreat from America's position as a global power with commensurate responsibilities. Paul has tried to call this stance "realism," but stripped of its rhetorical trappings that attempt to differentiate his positions from those of his father, Rep. Ron Paul, it is merely warmed-over isolationism. Paul has sought to play upon the war-weariness of Americans after Iraq and Afghanistan to bring this isolationist trend into the mainstream from the margins and fever swamps of the far right and far left, where it has dwelt since before WWII.
Source: Jonathan S. Tobin in Commentary Magazine , Jul 26, 2013

US aid enables a war on Christianity in the Middle East

Before the Arab Spring, Christianity flourished in small outposts, like the Coptic Christians in Egypt. I had hoped that the Arab Spring would bring freedom to long-oppressed people throughout the Middle East, but I fear the Arab Spring is becoming an Arab winter.

Today, Christians in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria are on the run--persecuted or under fire--and yet, we continue to send aid to the folks chasing them. While they burn the American flag and the mobs chant "Death to America," more of your money is sent to these haters of Christianity.

Even if all the atrocities to Christians were not occurring in these countries, we simply don't have the money to engage in this foolishness. We must borrow the money from China to send it to Pakistan.

It is clear that American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East and I believe that must end.

Source: Faith & Freedom Coalition speech: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 13, 2013

End US aid to countries that burn our flag

Sen. Paul told conservatives gathered at CPAC that ending foreign aid to nations like Egypt rather than stopping school children from touring the White House is a better way to cut federal spending: "I say not one penny more to countries that are burning our flag," Paul said, as the crowd rose to its feet and cheered. He chided the president for halting the tours as a way to deal with the across-the-board federal budget cuts required by the Budget Control Act, or sequester, which was proposed and signed into law by the president.

"The president's He's trying to do his fair share," Paul said. "But within a few days, the president finds an extra $250 million dollars to send to Egypt." Paul was referring to money appropriated by Congress to help the new government in Egypt where protests against the US have included burning the America flag, and "where mobs attacked out embassy and chanted 'Death to America,' [but Obama] found an extra $250 million to reward them," Paul said.

Source: CNSnews.com on 2013 Conservative Political Action Conf. , Mar 14, 2013

Stop sending foreign aid to people who don't like us

We continue sending billions to Afghanistan, yet Afghan president Hamid Karzai says that if neighboring Pakistan and the US went to war, his country would side with Pakistan. Why exactly are we sending so much money to Afghanistan?

Pakistani leaders have made similar comments, that if the US goes to war with Iran, Pakistan will side with Iran. Yet we continue to send Pakistan billions of US taxpayer dollars. Why?

We cannot continue to try to bully allies or pay off our enemies. So many of the countries we send aid to dislike us, regularly disrespect us, and openly tell the world they will side with our enemies.

America doesn't even have the money to send them. We're borrowing the money from China to aid people who don't like us. This is illogical. It's an insult.

And it should end.

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p.199 , Sep 12, 2012

Freeze aid to Egypt until they release detained Americans

When Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from office in 2011, a member of Mubarak's old guard decided to charge workers with the "crime" of doing something they had been doing legally and with full permission for years. American and Egyptian citizens were arrested.

Due to a near criminal degree of corruption, abuse, and waste on the part of many recipients--not to mention the fact that we can't afford it--I had long been in favor of eliminating foreign aid altogether. But since the aid existed, I thought it gave Congress the perfect tool to help the detained Americans.

I attempted to freeze aid to Egypt. We had sent Mubarak's regime over $60 billion and now a member of that same regime was responsible for arresting and holding American citizens against their will--19 US nationals. I proposed an amendment to end ALL foreign aid to Egypt--economic aid, military aid, all aid--in 30 days unless the American citizens were released. We give over $1.5 billion to Egypt annually.

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p.196-198 , Sep 12, 2012

As only democracy in Mideast, Israel is important ally

Sarah Palin's endorsement [in the Kentucky GOP Senate primary] gave us a boost that energized supporters, brought in new ones, and, of course, annoyed my opponent and his Republican bosses to no end.

Palin wanted to know my position on Israel. I said that Israel was an important ally, the only democracy in the Middle East, and that I would not condemn Israel for defending herself. Later, after Palin's endorsement of me, she was grilled about it on FOX News. Of course, she defended it.

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. 78 , Feb 22, 2011

Exit the UN; maintain US sovereignty

Q: Do you support U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations?

A: Yes.

Q: Will you support legislation that forbids U.S. troops from serving under United Nations command?

A: Yes.

Q: Will you support the American Sovereignty Act to restrict the Executive's ability to forge international agreements that lessen our sovereignty?

A: Yes.

Q: Will you oppose the so-called "NAFTA Superhighway" and any move toward a North American Union?

A: Yes.

Source: Campaign for Liberty survey of 2010 Congressional candidates , Nov 1, 2010

Rated 0 by AAI, indicating a mixed Arab/Palestine voting record.

Paul scores 0 by AAI on Arab-Israeli issues

The Arab American Institute has compiled a Scorecard to catalogue the voting record of the 112th Congress on issues of importance to the Arab American community. Though not comprehensive, we have attempted to provide a snapshot of legislation concerning many of the primary issues concerning Arab Americans. For the Senate, we have included 10 items: two bills on the Arab Spring, three on Palestine, one on Lebanon, one regarding civil liberties, and two for immigration reform.

  1. S. Res. 44: (+) calls on former President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a democratic political system
  2. S. Res. 109: (+) honoring and supporting women in North Africa and the Middle East
  3. S. Res. 138: (-) calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone report, formally known as the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which accused the Israeli government of targeting Palestinian civilians.
  4. S. Res. 185: (-) reaffirming the commitment of the US to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and calling for a US veto of any UN resolution on Palestinian statehood without a settlement.
  5. S. Con. Res. 23: (-) supporting Israel in maintaining defensible borders, and against Israel returning to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967
  6. S. 558: (+) the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, to limit the use of cluster munitions in areas normally inhabited by civilians.
  7. S. 1125: (+) greater judicial review of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and greater protections to individuals being monitored or gag-ordered by the FBI.
  8. S.1038, the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act, in opposition of PATRIOT Act extension.
  9. S. 723: (-) The Birthright Citizenship Act, limiting citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants born in the US.
  10. S. 952: (+) the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented minors to become US citizens, provided they meet certain conditions, including good moral character
Source: AAI website 12-AAI-S on May 2, 2012

Endorsed Liberty Candidate: US abroad unconstitutional & unaffordable.

Paul is endorsed by Congressional endorsement list

A Liberty Candidate will Defend the Great American Principles of A Non-interventionist Foreign Policy and Sound Money, [such as the views of] Adam Kokesh, Congress 2010 candidate from New Mexico, on foreign Policy: "Taken as a whole, America’s current foreign policy is a grossly unconstitutional one that we cannot afford. It has put us in a situation where children born today are burdened with an impossible debt. It is premised on a twisted version of American exceptionalism which assumes we have the right to police the world without respect for the sovereignty of fellow nations. If we hope to be respected in the global community, we would be wise to heed the advice of Thomas Jefferson and seek, 'peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations--entangling alliances with none.' "

Source: 2010 Congressional endorsement list 2010-LC-FP on Sep 1, 2010

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