Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Matt Welch on Rand Paul and Foreign Policy

Matt Welch from Reason has a piece on Senator Rand Paul and the mainstreaming of noninterventionism:

Going by a pre-speech interview with The American Conservative's Daniel Larison, Paul's foreign policy vision will focus less on the "blowback" his father constantly warns about, and more on the "process" of restoring congressional participation in the constitutional balance of power over military affairs. Instead of getting to the immediate "no" on interventionism abroad, whether in Mali or Syria or Iran, this focus on congressional oversight allows Paul to work more slowly toward the same likely conclusion, while allowing for coalition building and stressing a certain epistemological humility.

"If you get to that, then you'll get to the facts ultimately," he told Larison. "It's hard to always comment on every set of facts in the world, particularly if we're not engaged in the debate."


But 27 months ago, there was no Republican in the United States Senate proposing to repeal the notorious 9/14 authorization of force that has in effect given the president a blank check to send assassination drones all over the globe. Few senators of either party spend so much time tilting at the windmill of Fourth Amendment restoration in an age of ubiquitous government spying. In an era when it's never been easier for disgruntled citizens to route around legislators who ignore their wishes, Rand Paul stands uniquely positioned to exploit the vast gap between America's instinctive foreign policy modesty and its governing consensus to the contrary.


But by insinuating himself successfully into the heart of the GOP, Rand Paul is doing more than mainstreaming libertarian-flavored foreign policy: He is forcing the purist, and therefore theoretical, instincts of his father's coalition to come into contact with the messy business of broad political persuasion. He will lose those along the way who prefer to lob rhetorical anti-imperial grenades from the margins. But he—and the country—stand to gain a whole lot more.

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