Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Text of Rand Paul's Speech on "Containment and Radical Islam"

Reason has the transcript of Rand Paul's speech today at the Heritage Foundation.  Key excerpts are below.  Obviously, with a moniker like "libertarian neocon" I tend to be on the more hawkish side but I have to say a lot of what he says makes sense.  Also, a lot of the Senators who are at least theoretically more in line with my foreign policy views also voted to give Egypt M1A1 tanks and F-16 fighter jets, while Rand Paul fought tooth and nail to withhold those advanced weapons systems.  Anyway, it probably is time we had a President who believed in a more intelligent use of American power overseas.  One based on interests and not "well that is what we have always done".  That's how you end up giving billions to anti-american, anti-semitic regimes like the ones in Egypt and Pakistan and still have 900 American bases overseas.  Anyway, here are the key excerpts from today's thought-provoking speech:

As many are quick to note, the war is not with Islam but with a radical element of Islam  -- the problem is that this element is no small minority but a vibrant, often mainstream, vocal and numerous minority.  Whole countries, such as Saudi Arabia, adhere to at least certain radical concepts such as the death penalty for blasphemy, conversion, or apostasy.  A survey in Britain after the subway bombings showed 20% of the Muslim population in Britain approved of the violence.
Some libertarians argue that western occupation fans the flames of radical Islam – I agree.  But I don't agree that absent western occupation that radical Islam "goes quietly into that good night."  I don't agree with FDR's VP Henry Wallace that the Soviets (or Radical Islam in today's case) can be discouraged by "the glad hand and the winning smile."
Understandably no one wants to imagine what happens if Iran develops a nuclear weapon.  But if we don't have at least some of that discussion now, then the danger exists that war is the only remedy.
No one, myself included,  wants to see a nuclear Iran.   Iran does need to know that all options are on the table.  But we should not pre-emptively announce that diplomacy or containment will never be an option. 
In a recent Senate resolution, the bipartisan consensus stated that we will never contain Iran should they get a nuclear weapon.  In the debate, I made the point that while I think it unwise to declare that we will contain a nuclear Iran, I think it equally unwise to say we will never contain a nuclear Iran.  War should never be our only option. 
Let me be clear.  I don't want Iran to develop nuclear weapons but I also don't want to decide with certainty that war is the only option.
What the United States needs now is a policy that finds a middle path.  A policy that is not rash or reckless.  A foreign policy that is reluctant, restrained by Constitutional checks and balances but does not appease.  A foreign policy that recognizes the danger of radical Islam but also the inherent weaknesses of radical Islam.  A foreign policy that recognizes the danger of bombing countries on what they might someday do. A foreign  policy that requires, as Kennan put it, "a long term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of . . .  expansive tendencies." [3] A policy that understands the "distinction between vital and peripheral interests."
No one believes that Kennan was an isolationist but Kennan did advise that non-interference in the internal affairs of another country was, after all, a long standing principle of American diplomacy . . . [that should be excepted only when: A) " there is a sufficiently powerful national interest"  and B) when "we have the means to conduct such intervention successfully  AND can afford the cost."
In Kennan's famous 'X' article he argues that containment meant the "application of counter-force at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points, corresponding to the shifts and manoeuvres of Soviet policy." He later clarified, though, that did not necessarily mean that the application of counter-force had to mean a military response.  He argued that containment was not a strategy to counter "entirely by military means."  "But containment was not diplomacy [alone] either."
Like communism, radical Islam is an ideology with worldwide reach.  Containing radical Islam requires a worldwide strategy like containment.   It requires counterforce at a series of constantly shifting worldwide
points.  But counterforce does not necessarily mean large-scale land wars with hundreds of thousands of troops nor does it always mean a military action at all.
Kennan objected to the Truman doctrine's "implied obligation to act wherever Soviet aggression or intimidation occurred, without regard to whether American interests were at state or the means existed with which to defend them."  He was also concerned that the Truman doctrine was "a blank check to give economic and military aid to any area in the world."
Likewise, today's "Truman" caucus wants boots on the ground and weapons in the hands of freedom fighters everywhere, including Syrian rebels.  Perhaps, we might want to ask the opinion of the one million Syrian Christians, many of whom fled Iraq when our Shiite allies were installed.  Perhaps, we might want to ask:   will the Syrian rebels respect the rights of Christians, women, and other ethnic minorities?
Everybody now loves Ronald Reagan.  Even President Obama tries to toady up and vainly try to resemble some Reaganism.  Reagan's foreign policy was robust but also restrained.  He pulled no punches in telling Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down that wall."  He did not shy from labeling the Soviet Union an evil empire.  But he also sat down with Gorbachev and negotiated meaningful reductions in nuclear weapons.
Many of today's neoconservatives want to wrap themselves up in Reagan's mantle but the truth is that Reagan used clear messages of communism's evil and clear exposition of America's strength to contain and ultimately transcend the Soviet Union.
The cold war ended because the engine of capitalism defeated the engine of socialism.  Reagan aided and abetted this end not by "liberation" of captive people but by a combination of don't mess with us language and diplomacy, not inconsistent with Kennan's approach.
Jack Matlock, one of Reagan's national security advisors, wrote "Reagan's Soviet policy had more in common with Kennan's thinking than the policy of any of Reagan's predecessors."
Reagan's foreign policy was much closer to what I am advocating than what we have today.   The former Chairman of the American Conservative Union David Keene noted that Reagan's policy was much less interventionist than the presidents of both parties who came right before him and after him. 
I'd argue that a more restrained foreign policy is the true conservative foreign policy, as it includes two basic tenets of true conservatism: respect for the constitution, and fiscal discipline.
I am convinced that what we need is a foreign policy that works within these two constraints, a foreign policy that works within the confines of the Constitution the realities of our fiscal crisis Today in Congress there is no such nuance, no such moderation of dollars or executive power.
Last year I introduced a non-binding sense of the Senate resolution reiterating the President's words when he was a candidate that no president should go to war unilaterally without the approval of Congress unless an imminent threat to our national security exists.
Not one Democrat voted to support candidate Obama's words and only ten Republican senators voted to support the notion that Congressional authority is needed to begin war.
Some well-meaning senators came up to me and said, Congress has the power of the purse strings and can simply cut off funds.  The problem is that there is occasionally a will to avoid war in the beginning but rarely, if ever, is there the resolve to cut off funding once troops are in the field.  No historic example exists of Congress cutting off funds to a war in progress.  Even during Vietnam, arguably our most unpopular war, funds were never voted down.
Madison wrote, "The Constitution supposes what history demonstrates,   that the Executive is the branch most prone to war and most interested in it, therefore the Constitution has with studied care vested that power in the Legislature
Since the Korean War, Congress has ignored its responsibility to restrain the President. Congress has abdicated its role in declaring war. 
What would a foreign policy look like that tried to strike a balance?  first, it would have less soldiers stationed overseas and less bases.  Instead of large, limitless land wars in multiple theaters, we would target our enemy; strike with lethal force.
It is time for all Americans, and especially conservatives, to become as critical and reflective when examining foreign policy as we are with domestic policy. Should our military be defending this nation or constantly building other nations? What constitutes our actual "national defense" and what parts of our foreign policy are more like an irrational offense? It is the soldier's job to do his duty—but it is the citizen's job to question their government—particularly when it comes to putting our soldiers in harm's way
And of course, the question we are forced to ask today is—can we afford this?
I hope such questions begin to be asked and we see some sort of return to a Constitutional foreign policy. I hope this occurs before the debt crisis occurs and not amidst a crisis. To that end, I will fight to have a voice for those who wish who wish to see a saner, more balanced approach to foreign policy.
And here is the video of the speech:


No comments:

Post a Comment