Rick Perry vs. Rand Paul – Who’s Right on Foreign Policy?

This week Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) released dueling essays on the current state of American foreign affairs.

Governor Perry is obviously ramping up his visibility and taking on the people he sees as his likely competitors for the GOP Presidential nomination. He likely sees Senator Paul as a foe who can differentiate himself based on foreign policy beliefs and is trying to undercut him long before Paul has the chance to make his case.

Many people are tired of war, and the urge to pull back is a natural, human reaction. Unfortunately, we live in a world where isolationist policies would only endanger our national security even further.

That’s why it’s disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), suggest that our nation should ignore what’s happening in Iraq. The main problem with this argument is that it means ignoring the profound threat that the group now calling itself the Islamic State poses to the United States and the world.

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This represents a real threat to our national security — to which Paul seems curiously blind — because any of these passport carriers can simply buy a plane ticket and show up in the United States without even a visa. It’s particularly chilling when you consider that one American has already carried out a suicide bombing and a terrorist-trained European allegedly killed four at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

perry vs. paulOn the other hand, Senator Paul is also positioning himself for a run at the White House, and unlike every libertarian(ish) candidate before him, he actually stands a serious chance. In this latest attack from Perry he must recognize a real danger, because his response came swiftly and harshly. He reminded Perry that the policies that Perry suggests are the same policies that President George W. Bush and Barack Obama have pursued to a lesser or greater degree. He reminds Governor Perry that the American people are no longer keen on those policies, and that his (Paul’s) arguments may just be the new direction that America is looking for.

Governor Perry writes a fictionalized account of my foreign policy so mischaracterizing my views that I wonder if he’s even really read any of my policy papers.

In fact, some of Perry’s solutions for the current chaos in Iraq aren’t much different from what I’ve proposed, something he fails to mention. His solutions also aren’t much different from President Barack Obama’s, something he also fails to mention. Because interestingly enough, there aren’t that many good choices right now in dealing with this situation in Iraq.

Perry says there are no good options. I’ve said the same thing. President Obama has said the same thing. So what are Perry’s solutions and why does he think they are so bold and different from anyone else’s?

Then Senator Paul delivers a crushing blow…

Unlike Perry, I oppose sending American troops back into Iraq. After a decade of the United States training the Iraq’s military, when confronted by the enemy, the Iraqis dropped their weapons, shed their uniforms and hid. Our soldiers’ hard work and sacrifice should be worth more than that. Our military is too good for that.

I ask Governor Perry: How many Americans should send their sons or daughters to die for a foreign country — a nation the Iraqis won’t defend for themselves? How many Texan mothers and fathers will Governor Perry ask to send their children to fight in Iraq?

Whichever side you support, the argument is a real one. The Republican Party is in the midst of an internal struggle over foreign policy. Since the administration of President George H.W. Bush, the Republican and Democrat foreign policies have been strikingly similar (arguments usually arise for political purposes more than tactical ones), and most Republicans now agree that changes need to be made.

The latest Wall Street Journal Poll finds the majority of Republicans are in agreement with Senator Paul’s foreign policy vision.

For all the hand-wringing about whether his foreign-policy views could disqualify him from winning the Republican presidential nomination, recent polls suggest his skepticism about foreign entanglements might not be quite so out of step with GOP voters.

In the latest Journal poll of 1,000 adults, conducted June 11-15, 58% of the Republican respondents said the war in Afghanistan wasn’t worth it, compared with the 37% who said it was. That’s an abrupt shift from January 2013, when just 37% of Republicans said the war wasn’t worth it. The Annenberg survey conducted days later found similar erosion in views about Iraq.

This topic will be one of the main points of discussion in 2016 when GOP hopefuls are trying to win the hearts and minds of the electorate… so get ready to hear a lot more foreign policy talk.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com

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