Realism and Rand Paul

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Senator Rand Paul hits back at NRO writers who have criticized his foreign policy:

The knives are out for conservatives who dare question unlimited involvement in foreign wars.

Foreign policy, the interventionist critics claim, has no place for nuance or realism. You are either for us or against us. No middle ground is acceptable.

And there’s the problem. None of Paul’s critics at NRO have said anything like what Paul claims about nuance or realism, or called for unlimited involvement in foreign wars. And criticism of Paul — and his excuse-making for the Russian and Syrian regimes – does not amount to criticism of realism. Nor does William F. Buckley Jr.’s retrospective opposition to the Iraq war amount to Senator Paul’s view that Halliburton’s influence over Dick Cheney had something to do with its start.

I’m glad Senator Paul is there to push back against, for example, the ill-considered proposal to strike at Syria last year. But he’d be a more effective advocate for realism if he showed an ability to make obvious distinctions.

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