Magazine article Reason

Rand Paul and 10 Heedless Hawks: The Kentucky Senator Offers a Desperately Needed Alternative to the GOP's Mindless Militarism

Magazine article Reason

Rand Paul and 10 Heedless Hawks: The Kentucky Senator Offers a Desperately Needed Alternative to the GOP's Mindless Militarism

Article excerpt

AT A 2014 Q&A session in Dallas, Rand Paul expressed skepticism about whether the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) posed "a threat to our national security." Hours later, at another event in Dallas, the Kentucky senator said that if he were president he "would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily."

Paul's sudden conversion on the merits of war with ISIS made me worry that, in catering to Republican primary voters, he would lose his distinctive voice on foreign policy, which urges caution and modesty instead of die heedless interventionism advocated by his rivals. But September's Republican presidential debate showed that Paul still offers a desperately needed alternative to the mindless militarism favored by the GOP.

"We have a world that grows increasingly dangerous," Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida declared, "and we are eviscerating our military spending." It is so eviscerated that the U.S. devotes more money to military spending than the next seven countries combined.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson nevertheless agreed with Rubio that U.S. military spending is dangerously low. "We need the strongest military on the face of the planet," Fiorina said, "and everyone has to know it." Although we and they already do, Fiorina still wants to boost spending on the Army, Navy, and Marines.

Bush upped the ante. "If we're going to lead the world," he said, "then we need to have die strongest military possible." Strictly speaking, that means diverting virtually all resources to military spending, leaving Americans just enough to cover the basic necessities of life.

Paul, by contrast, has proposed a five-year budget-balancing plan that includes $164 billion in Pentagon cuts. Although he later seemed to retreat from that proposal, it is hard to imagine him complaining that $610 billion, about a fifth of all federal spending, is not enough to defend die country. …

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