Isolationist? No, Diplomacy! Strategy First, Not Bullets

Isolationist? No, Diplomacy! Strategy First, Not Bullets

We do not have to solve everything with war. America does not have to follow an ideology of “might makes right.” After all, it isn’t always a strategy that serves the long-term. Rand Paul has frequently been labeled as an “isolationist” by his critics. That’s not the case. He believes in diplomacy first, not war. He wants to promote an exchange with words, not bullets.

In his speech during the 20th Anniversary Dinner at the Center for the National Interest, he continues:

“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.”

“…It is the first principle of diplomacy: understanding that diplomacy only is successful when both parties feel that they have won…If you insist on unconditional surrender as a prerequisite to diplomacy, there will be very little diplomacy.”

And if we can’t approach diplomacy directly, we should leverage our relationships with other countries:

“When the President came to us to try to convince the Senate to support a military engagement with Syria, he acknowledged that any national-security interest was ambiguous at best. Because of the demand, by many of us, for more debate a diplomatic solution arose that may well do something that no military strike could perform—remove the chemical weapons. The Syrian chemical-weapons solution could be exactly what we need to resolve the standoff in Iran and North Korea. By leveraging our relationship with China, we should be able to influence the behavior of North Korea. Likewise, we should be engaging the Russians to assist us with the Syrians and the Iranians.”

Paul is showing that he sees the whole picture and is willing to discuss all options, not just a narrow path, but that isn’t to say that he advocates a “weak” America. ‘A reluctance for war’ shouldn’t be misinterpreted as a reluctance to defend ourselves:

When America is attacked or our interests directly threatened, our country should and will defend itself with the force and authority of our collective wills. We will seek no other military objective than complete victory over our attackers.

Bottom line, this is not the foreign policy of an “isolationist” but of a realist. We shouldn’t go out of our way to create wars or engage in military involvement overseas when there’s a smarter approach.


(Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, via Flickr Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

WATCH: Rand Paul on Diplomacy
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