Rand Paul Calls for Reaganesque 'Strategic Ambiguity' on Iran

Image: Rand Paul Calls for Reaganesque 'Strategic Ambiguity' on Iran

Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 10:54 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday likened his foreign policy philosophy to former President Ronald Reagan's "strategic ambiguity," angrily denying that he thinks the United States should aim to contain a nuclear Iran.

"I am not for containment in Iran," the Kentucky Republican wrote in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post.

"Let me repeat that, since no one seems to be listening closely: I am unequivocally not for containing Iran. I am also not for announcing that the United States should never contain Iran . . . the scenario being misunderstood by some in the news."

In an interview Sunday on ABC, Paul said that "all options should be on the table" to control Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"To be against a 'we will never contain Iran' resolution is not the same as being for containment of a nuclear Iran," he wrote. "Rather, it means that foreign policy is complicated and doesn’t fit neatly within a bumper sticker, headline or tweet."

Paul's sole vote against a 2012 resolution to pursue a policy other than containment against Iran has put him at odds with the White House and with other conservatives as he considers a possible run for president in 2016, The Washington Post reports.

Paul argues that what U.S. foreign policy has been lacking is "nuance."

"Whether through preemptive war or 'red lines' that were crossed without consequence, the extremes of foreign policy have had their way, and it has not worked," he wrote.

Paul noted that Reagan was criticized "for not announcing in advance his policy toward particular situations" and for "not having a concrete foreign policy."

"In fact, Reagan often practiced strategic ambiguity," Paul wrote. "He thought, as many other presidents have, that we should not announce to our enemies what we might do in every conceivable hypothetical situation."

Paul reiterated that he thinks "all options should be on the table to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons" — then added, "including the military option." He also wrote he's "repeatedly" voted for sanctions against Iran "and will continue to do so."

"But I will also continue to argue that war is a last resort and that, as Reagan wrote, we should be reluctant to go to war but resolved to do so if necessary."

Containment of Iran "is a bad idea," Paul wrote, urging: "Our leaders need to think before they speak and consider that preemptively announcing responses to every hypothetical situation may well damage our ability to keep the United States safe and strong."

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