Rand Paul Alienating Some in GOP on Foreign Policy

Saturday, 24 May 2014 01:38 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Powerful Republicans, alarmed by potential presidential candidate Rand Paul's less-aggressive stance on foreign policy, are portraying the Kentucky Republican as being misguided as he nears a decision on the upcoming race.

Libertarian-leaning Paul is wary of centralized authority and skeptical of military intervention, reports The New York Times.

His stance is attractive to younger voters, but he stands to lose the Republican base that could lead to his nomination for a presidential race, some insiders are saying.

Opinion writers from some of the country's most powerful conservative publications, including The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, and National Review are already questioning Paul's stance, as are right-wing supporters of Israel, neoconservative think tanks, and veterans of former President George W. Bush's administration, all voices with clout that can control campaign contributions.

For example, National Review writer Rich Lowry described Paul's foreign policy as "dewy-eyed foolishness." People attending a meeting last fall between Paul and The Wall Street Journal's editorial board said owner Rupert Murdoch had to calm down the contentious scene between the politician and his journalists.

Paul says the attacks against him are personal and hostile because Americans are leaning more in his direction. But he's been courting some of the power players in the party with events including dinners with ambassadors, a trip to Israel, and a personal pitch to Republican Jewish Coalition's board, a group that casino billionaire and major GOP donor Sheldon Adelson finances.

And although he's often described as being an isolationist, Paul insists he's for more foreign involvement than "the neocons."

"The neocons are really neo-isolationists,” he told the Times. "They are so hardened — that everybody should behave like us, and everybody in the world should be in our image — that they discount the concept of looking at things realistically and negotiating with people who don’t have our point of view.”

Paul also complains that people want to cast his opinions alongside those of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a perennial presidential candidate who is suspicious of America's overseas involvement.

But Paul says he believes that wars should only be fought under the authorization of Congress, and that President Barack Obama has overstepped his executive authority by ordering drone strikes on foreign targets.

Party "hawks" are looking with alarm at his votes on bills dealing with Israel and Iran. Further, Paul believes foreign aid should be cut off and in 2011 called aid to Israel "welfare," angering Jewish conservatives.

And Bush-era Republicans were angered by a video that surfaced suggesting former Vice President Dick Cheney advocated the invasion of Iraq because of his ties with government contractor Halliburton.

“It’s crazy. It’s vicious. It’s personal,” Paul Wolfowitz, a deputy secretary of defense during the Iraq war, said of the video. “It’s entirely unhelpful.”

But some who feared Paul's stance are starting to soften their views. For example,
Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said that after he asked Paul about his stance on aid to Israel, he came away reassured after Paul "said if there was a vote and for any reason it seemed like it was actually going to be close, he would vote for it."

Paul, meanwhile, notes he has only been a public official a short while, and he has been "expressing gradually where my foreign policy is," as "foreign policy isn’t set in stone. It isn’t either-or. And it isn’t always right or wrong.”

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