Rand Paul & Iran: Foreign Policy is Not a Bumper Sticker

Rand Paul & Iran: Foreign Policy is Not a Bumper Sticker

 

Iran sees the world differently than the rest of us. There’s no doubt about that. Just look at who they chose as a U.N. ambassador. If Iran wants peace with us, then maybe they should skip the trip down memory lane to the 1979 Iran hostage crisis for a start. Even with a nuclear deal in the works, their familiar chorus hasn’t exactly changed to “Peace and Love to America.” Rand Paul has been criticized for his take on foreign policy before but, c’mon, this country has been egging us on for a war for decades. This is no simple matter.

 

Rand Paul is right. There’s no way to neatly wrap up a foreign policy “within a bumper sticker, headline or tweet.” Especially when dealing with a country like Iran. While he’s not ruling out a military option with regards to Iran, we all know that at his libertarian core he wants to avoid war. That’s what is important.

 

The truth of the matter is that Paul is a different kind of Republican when it comes to foreign policy.

Take Paul’s history on Iran. In the spring of 2012, he worked to slow approval of a measure sanctioning Iran for their pursuit of a nuclear weapon, making clear that he didn’t want the vote to be seen as a first step toward a potential war.

While he eventually voted for those sanctions, he opposed an effort to put more sanctions on the country earlier this year, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: ” I think the bottom line is we should give negotiations a chance. My hope is that sanctions will avoid war. We’ve been involved in two long wars in the Middle East. And I think it would be best if we can do anything possible to try to avoid another war now.” (Washington Post)

 

Rand Paul knows his approach to foreign policy is going to be at odds with the GOP standard.

As Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post notes:

Paul’s allies “have made clear he is savvier, politically speaking, than his father and understands that he isn’t likely to enjoy majority support within the party for his foreign policy views. Therefore, he won’t spend oodles of time talking about those issues.”

While Paul’s Op-Ed in The Washington Post had some folks scratching their heads, he wants to avoid stirring up the hornet’s nest and avoid war with a country that still chants “Death to America” whenever it gets the chance. Obviously, when dealing with Iran, “nuance” is more important than ever.

Jonathan Chait of the New York Magazine backs Paul up:

“It means we should take every non-military step to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but should those fail, deterrence is a more workable strategy than war. … It’s true that elected politicians tend not to say this, because why admit the potential failure of Plan A? What Paul is doing is merely saying out loud what many of them understand perfectly well.”

Rand Paul wants to keep all the options on the table. You can’t just say to a country like Iran that we’re going to “deal” with you the hard way ahead of time. Especially when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani  is saying things like, “”We don’t attack any country and don’t want war but we will firmly confront any aggression against Iran.” “Strategic ambiguity” doesn’t sound like a strong foreign policy, but neither does showing all your cards to the other players.

 

What’s YOUR take on all of this? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Stir up a conversation on our Facebook or if you really want to get others involved in this discussion, send us a tweet.  

 

(Photo courtesy of Chronos Tachyon, via Flickr CC)

 

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