Rand Paul: I don’t think we should impose new Iran sanctions while negotiations are ongoing

posted at 2:01 pm on January 31, 2014 by Allahpundit

Via Think Progress, this one’s a few days old but worth noting belatedly. Skip to 4:25 for the key bit. Three weeks ago, this would have been a big deal legislatively. Rumors were swirling at the time that the Senate had 67 votes — a veto-proof majority — to slam Iran with a new round of sanctions that would, in theory, pressure them to faithfully carry out their obligations under the Geneva nuclear deal. The Iranians countered that new sanctions would be a dealbreaker; Obama threatened to veto them if they passed, but 67 votes would mean taking the pen out of his hand. The mystery, then: How would Rand Paul, potentially the 67th vote, come down on the question when his dovish libertarian fans and more hawkish conservative ones were at odds? The answer, as it turned out, was that it doesn’t matter. After the news broke about a veto-proof majority congealing in the Senate, the White House and various interest groups went into overdrive in pressuring pro-sanctions Democrats to back down. It worked. Chris Coons, one of the original sponsors of a new round of sanctions, had a change of heart, as did Richard Blumenthal. The pen is back in Obama’s hand so Paul’s vote is academic.

Academic, but still interesting and relevant to the future of Republican foreign policy. Support for new sanctions is nearly unanimous among Senate GOPers, with Paul and Jeff Flake, as far as I know, constituting a caucus of two in showing reluctance. Marco Rubio backs sanctions and thinks the Senate still has a shot at a veto-proof majority on them. Ted Cruz called Obama’s SOTU threat to veto a sanctions bill “one of the most dangerous things in the entire speech” and compared his handling of Iran to Clinton’s handling of eventual nuclear power North Korea in the 90s. This is, in other words, a glaring point of contention between Paul and his presidential rivals on a hot-button foreign policy issue. It’s bound to figure in the debates next year, maybe prominently. If negotiations break down, it’s a cinch that the field’s more hawkish candidates will use his wait-and-see approach to bludgeon him for his dovish naivete. Paul will have defenses to that — he voted for Iran sanctions in the past, and he says here that he’d prefer to keep existing sanctions in effect until there’s proof that Iran’s complying with the Geneva terms (although Iran never would have agreed to that) — but no one knows if they’ll work. The whole thrust of his opponents’ criticism on foreign policy will be that he’s too much like his father to be trusted to defend the country robustly. They’re looking around for data points to support that thesis; if negotiations collapse, this’ll be seized eagerly. And of course Paul knows it, which is why it’s safe to say he’s giving his honest opinion here. He’s already got the libertarian vote. All this can do is get hawkish voters to say “hmmmm.”


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“I think the bottom line is we should give negotiations a chance. My hope is that sanctions will avoid war.”

We all “hope” that, but the question is, Do you believe that? And do you have a plan beyond denial if your “hope” is dashed?

rhombus on January 31, 2014 at 2:03 PM

This is why I just can’t pull the lever for Rand.

He’s fine as KY’s senator but not as President.

Bitter Clinger on January 31, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Sorry Rand, but if you think giving Iran a chance to negotiate than you’re as dumb as everyone else in DC. They are liars that use negotiations to stall for time. That’s it. They will never honor any agreement with the infidels. How stupid can you be not to understand this?

Flange on January 31, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Sorry Rand, but if you think giving Iran a chance to negotiate than you’re as dumb as everyone else in DC. They are liars that use negotiations to stall for time. That’s it. They will never honor any agreement with the infidels. How stupid can you be not to understand this?

Flange on January 31, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Sums up most of the ME. Taqiyya is their staple.

nobar on January 31, 2014 at 2:16 PM

This is why I just can’t pull the lever for Rand.

He’s fine as KY’s senator but not as President.

Bitter Clinger on January 31, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Dittos. He’s consistent to a philosophy that is dead wrong.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Rand Paul is an appeaser and an apologist for the islamists. The idea that he could get the Repub nomination just shows the depths to which the Republican party has sunken.

He is basically his Dad and his Dad pals around with racists and bigots.

georgealbert on January 31, 2014 at 2:23 PM

He voted for sanctions in the past?
Nothing is more irritating than the self-serving hypocrite politicians who manipulate their public positions to be on both sides of the fence (until I need to commit for my political gain). I watched Joe Lieberman play this game for years to perfection, gaining undeserved love from both sides, and only condemnation from the few principled people left in America.

Don L on January 31, 2014 at 2:25 PM

That would make sense if we had an administration that negotiated with the interests of the USA in mind. Obozzo seems to want to get a deal, any deal just so he can say he did something, Israel be damned.

stephana on January 31, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Nothing wrong with the position Rand’s taken.

Outside Iran mobilizing first, you will not be able to pass any authorization for direct conflict.

Congress nor the Pentagon will not back a strike-first policy because we do not have the means to handle the conflagration that will occur.

So why implode the region by pushing sanctions.

The other point made, which isn’t mentioned, is he feels the original deal should have been verification before removal of current sanctions. If Iran wouldn’t agree with that, then sanctions stay in place.

“Denial” is thinking you could get a legit American majority behind attacking Iran first. It ain’t happening.

W had that opportunity when they started supplying IEDS to Iraqi insurgents and housing Bin Laden’s son.

Obama had an even better opportunity with the ’09 revolution.

Unless we get that window again, you’re backing a Bill Kristol policy.

And I promise you, all the bluster coming out of Cruz is the real canard. He’s trying to create a purely political distinction.

Put Cruz in the position where his vote scuttles diplomacy and possibly ignites WW3, and he’ll back sanctions, too. No one wants that blood on their hands. Save Neocons.

budfox on January 31, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Dittos. He’s consistent to a philosophy that is dead wrong.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 2:18 PM

While his foreign policy is pretty bad, his economic philosophy is still miles better than what the GOP leadership or Obama can offer. I’d pull the lever if only because I feel like we could actually trust him with the economy, even if we might pay a price on the international stage.

Doomberg on January 31, 2014 at 2:26 PM

My hope is that sanctions will avoid war.

Sometimes I think Paul is too much of a peacenik. I’m totally against pointless pro-enemy interventions like in Libya, but if Iran gets nukes, we could see a disaster looming many orders of magnitude greater than a few cruise missiles flying over Tehran. And sanctions aren’t war. That was the whole idea of the velvet glove sanctions: do sanctions not war.

anotherJoe on January 31, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Following the principles of isolationism is fine to a certain degree, but sometimes there has to be action. Iran has shown itself to be disinterested in following any kind of “good neighbor” behavior.

Not entirely sure sanctions are the answer, but more negotiations with people who won’t follow any kind of agreement is a waste of time.

kim roy on January 31, 2014 at 2:29 PM

…I love Rand…but on THIS…he scares me!

KOOLAID2 on January 31, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Sometimes I think Paul is too much of a peacenik. I’m totally against pointless pro-enemy interventions like in Libya, but if Iran gets nukes, we could see a disaster looming many orders of magnitude greater than a few cruise missiles flying over Tehran. And sanctions aren’t war. That was the whole idea of the velvet glove sanctions: do sanctions not war.

anotherJoe on January 31, 2014 at 2:28 PM

I get your point, but think it all the way through.

Rand voted for the original sanctions. He wanted them to stay in place. Obama decided to use them as leverage and remove them.

Now, if you vote for sanctions, it no longer means you go back to status quo, nor does it mean you stop Iran.

That’s the dilemma. Iran is at the point where they can declare themselves a nuclear power and that the sanctions are a stage of war. That’s pretty much what Imperial Japan did to justify Pearl Harbor.

But it will be much easier for Iran to go after soft targets in the region.

That creates a larger regional war by proxy between us and them.

That brings Israel and Saudi Arabia into play. And then we’re off and running into WW3.

budfox on January 31, 2014 at 2:35 PM

budfox on January 31, 2014 at 2:26 PM

I disagree.

The Senate’s sanctions bill was a “this is what we will have ready to go into place if Iran doesn’t abide by the deal struck in Geneva”. Who cares if the Iranians carp about that? I don’t believe they have any real intention to keep to what was negotiated. And what exactly was negotiated in Geneva? They’re keeping that secret and the Iranians have already said that they didn’t agree to any dismantling. So there’s really no reason not to go forward with the Senate’s bill, except that Obama doesn’t like it because it shows what a feckless deal he and Kerry most likely struck in Geneva.

Bitter Clinger on January 31, 2014 at 2:40 PM

While his foreign policy is pretty bad, his economic philosophy is still miles better than what the GOP leadership or Obama can offer. I’d pull the lever if only because I feel like we could actually trust him with the economy, even if we might pay a price on the international stage.

Doomberg on January 31, 2014 at 2:26 PM

I couldn’t vote for him even though I generally agree with you about his foreign policy and economic philosophy. I’m looking for a candidate whose positions don’t make national policy into some sort of a crap shoot.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Has he been talking to his dad?

Ward Cleaver on January 31, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Sounds like an echo of Obama’s “Open Hand” policy.

thebrokenrattle on January 31, 2014 at 2:47 PM

We all know how well sanctions worked in Iraq. It’s just a prelude to another war paid for by the American taxpayer and with the blood of good men who are sent to their death by old men and women in Washington. Let’s let Israel take care of it like they did when they bombed Iraq’s nuclear facility in the early 80s.

Let the EU deal with it, let Israel deal with it. They can’t reach us, and we shouldn’t be paying to defend Israel or Saudi Arabia. Look at you people, just frothing at the mouth for more war.

MoreLiberty on January 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM

While his foreign policy is pretty bad

Doomberg on January 31, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Dude I know, how dare him not want to spend billions upon billions on continual war in an effort to defend Saudi Arabia and Israel.

MoreLiberty on January 31, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Sorry Rand, but if you think giving Iran a chance to negotiate than you’re as dumb as everyone else in DC. They are liars that use negotiations to stall for time. That’s it. They will never honor any agreement with the infidels. How stupid can you be not to understand this?
Flange on January 31, 2014 at 2:10 PM

The only government that has proven that it can never be trusted is the US government. They lied about Iraqi WMDs and they also lied about Syria’s use of WMDs in order to provide an excuse for war.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 3:09 PM

The only government that has proven that it can never be trusted is the US government. They lied about Iraqi WMDs and they also lied about Syria’s use of WMDs in order to provide an excuse for war.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Well then why don’t you move to Iran and report back to us how open and honest their government is.

Bitter Clinger on January 31, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Dude I know, how dare him not want to spend billions upon billions on continual war in an effort to defend Saudi Arabia and Israel.

MoreLiberty on January 31, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Please explain how supporting sanctions on Iran equals spending billions.

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on January 31, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Well then why don’t you move to Iran and report back to us how open and honest their government is.

Bitter Clinger on January 31, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Hahahaha…that’s it. Don’t dare question the federal government. They never lie. LOL

MoreLiberty on January 31, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Academic, but still interesting and relevant to the future of Republican foreign policy. Support for new sanctions is nearly unanimous among Senate GOPers, with Paul and Jeff Flake, as far as I know, constituting a caucus of two in showing reluctance.

What’s interesting to me is that Hot Air somehow thinks that the GOP’s foreign policy is their strength. The reason why they were routed in 2006 and 2008 is due to the unpopularity of the Iraq war, which was based on lies. Polls show that the US public at large have become weary of wars. If people bothered to get out of Hot Air bubble they would notice that being uber hawks is not a winning strategy for the GOP. Agitating for more ME wars will not win them the White House. Rand Paul is too much of a warmonger for me but the GOP would be wise and follow his lead and show some restraint when it comes to the use of military force.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Please explain how supporting sanctions on Iran equals spending billions.
Throat Wobbler Mangrove on January 31, 2014 at 3:15 PM

I would argue that those sanctions are enforced by the use of the Federal government’s military muscle, which of course cost billions of billions of dollars.

I know most of you believe that economic sanctions are benign but they do cause economic hardships onto people.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Rand Paul is too much of a warmonger for me but the GOP would be wise and follow his lead and show some restraint when it comes to the use of military force.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 3:21 PM

I was going to ignore the thread, but this; I’m dumbfounded by this. Explain.

nobar on January 31, 2014 at 3:28 PM

I am in no way opposed to armed conflict, as long as it is in defense of US soil or citizens. The invasion of Grenada was a perfect use of our military because it saved Americans, while the Beirut “peacekeeping” operation was a complete debacle and it has been proven so.

Thousands of fellow marines and soldiers have lost their life in Iraq for what? Let the Iraqis fight for their own freedom. In reality, we fought for each other over there, not for apple-pie, the US Constitution, our homes or freedom; none of that was at risk. In the beginning, Afghanistan was a real target. Kill the guys protect OBL and find him. But now we are building bridges, protecting their poppy and pot farms, and building schools all while our “allies” shoot us in the back.

MoreLiberty on January 31, 2014 at 3:35 PM

I was going to ignore the thread, but this; I’m dumbfounded by this. Explain.
nobar on January 31, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Would you consider it an act if war if a foreign country imposed severe economic sanctions on the US? Mind you, economic sanctions have the effect as a blockade.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 3:38 PM

I told you.

KBird on January 31, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Would you consider it an act if war if a foreign country imposed severe economic sanctions on the US? Mind you, economic sanctions have the effect as a blockade.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Nope. In the first place, only a handful of countries could have any impact close to severe. And in the second place, acts of war are predominately violent in nature (see Pearl Harbor, Blitzkrieg, 9/11). Preventing trade isn’t one of them.

nobar on January 31, 2014 at 3:44 PM

In my opinion, the USA should be a neutral country with the disclaimer that if you hurt or attack a US citizen, a US flagged vessel, or our soil we will freaking destroy you. We wont build your bridges, we wont hand out soccer balls or candy, we will come in, take care of business and then leave.

Those of you that want to defend other countries please feel free to enlist in their armies, and/or write your own check to them.

MoreLiberty on January 31, 2014 at 3:47 PM

I am in no way opposed to armed conflict, as long as it is in defense of US soil or citizens. The invasion of Grenada was a perfect use of our military because it saved Americans, while the Beirut “peacekeeping” operation was a complete debacle and it has been proven so.
Thousands of fellow marines and soldiers have lost their life in Iraq for what? Let the Iraqis fight for their own freedom. In reality, we fought for each other over there, not for apple-pie, the US Constitution, our homes or freedom; none of that was at risk. In the beginning, Afghanistan was a real target. Kill the guys protect OBL and find him. But now we are building bridges, protecting their poppy and pot farms, and building schools all while our “allies” shoot us in the back.
MoreLiberty on January 31, 2014 at 3:35 PM

I would argue that all of these wars are somehow tied to the petrodollar. Saddam offered to sell oil in Euros and was later overthrown. Gaddafi tried to organize African states to forming an alternative currency for oil trade and he was overthrown. Iran has offered to sell their oil for Euros and they are next in line to be invaded and bombed. However, Saudi Arabia, a Muslim country that funds Islamic extremism, has somehow been left off the Axis of Evil/invade list. Why? I believe it is because they are one of the primary supporters of the petrodollar. Soldiers are being required to kill, be killed, maim, be maimed not to protect our freedoms of the average citizen but rather to maintain the status if the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Nope. In the first place, only a handful of countries could have any impact close to severe. And in the second place, acts of war are predominately violent in nature (see Pearl Harbor, Blitzkrieg, 9/11). Preventing trade isn’t one of them.
nobar on January 31, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Blockades, although not necessarily violent, are the use of aggressive force and are considered to be acts if war. Although economic sanctions are not officially considered to be acts of war, they have many of the same effects of a blockade. This may be considered to be a case of a distinction without a real difference . The economic sanctions placed on Iraq has been estimated to have resulted in the deaths of 100K to 500K+ Iraqi children.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Rand Paul is too much of a warmonger for me

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Well…there it is.

thebrokenrattle on January 31, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Crap. This sounds just like Ron Paul, who I could never have voted for as president.

Shay on January 31, 2014 at 4:23 PM

nobar on January 31, 2014 at 3:44 PM

So if the Chinese or Iranians attempted a naval blockade preventing our ships from trading at some location, that’s not an act of war?

iwasbornwithit on January 31, 2014 at 4:50 PM

What is the end-game here?

We have sanctions…if you say they are working, then keep them, fine.

If they are NOT working you have 3 basic choices: Lift the sanctions, keep the status quo (doesn’t make any sense if they are NOT working, but that seems to be the current strategy), or shooting war.

If the goal is to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons, are sanctions effective in that regard? Do those sanctions encourage or discourage Iran to develop a nuclear weapon?

I don’t think that there is any chance of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons simply by imposing sanctions on them, no matter how “crippling” they may be.

The only way to ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon is to invade. I don’t think anyone here thinks that is a good idea, much less politically tenable. It is not happening.

So in the end, sanctions have no impact on the stated goal, but make some in this country feel good because we are “punishing” Iran for not obeying us. Of course, the ruling class in Iran, just like the ruling class here, will not suffer from the sanctions. It will be the common folks, many of whom don’t have a dog in this fight. Sanctions feel like we are doing something, but if we have had sanctions all this time, and if you believe that Iran is continuing to develop nukes, what exactly is the point?

iwasbornwithit on January 31, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Yep, Rand is just like his daddy..not a fan of Israel

sadsushi on January 31, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Yep, Rand is just like his daddy..not a fan of Israel
sadsushi on January 31, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Well, it would be nice if the President of the United States would be a fan of the United States and not of a foreign country. Most normal countries like France, Switzerland, Brazil, Japan, Russia, Mexico etc expect for the leaders of their countries 1st, 2nd, and last. Only in America is it expected that the interest of foreign nations is put ahead of its own people.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 8:44 PM

^^^^^ corrected

Well, it would be nice if the President of the United States would be a fan of the United States and not of a foreign country. Most normal countries like France, Switzerland, Brazil, Japan, Russia, Mexico etc expect for the leaders of their countries to put the interest of their people 1st, 2nd, and last. Only in America is it expected that the interest of foreign nations is put ahead of its own people.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 8:47 PM

Rand Paul: I don’t think we should impose new Iran sanctions while negotiations are ongoing

Translation: I don’t think we need to put any pressure on Iran while they’re stalling us about building nukes.

I always thought Rand Paul was more sane, but I guess not.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 31, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Well, it would be nice if the President of the United States would be a fan of the United States and not of a foreign country. Most normal countries like France, Switzerland, Brazil, Japan, Russia, Mexico etc expect for the leaders of their countries to put the interest of their people 1st, 2nd, and last. Only in America is it expected that the interest of foreign nations is put ahead of its own people.

antifederalist on January 31, 2014 at 8:47 PM

A long-winded version of the Dual Loyalty charge, i.e. sadsushi wants a leader who puts Israeli needs before our own. sadsushi does not wish for any America leader to put Israel first, it just so happens that Israeli interests and American ones are often similar if not the same. Your interpretation of a diversion of those interests sounds more Obama-like than you’d like to admit.

thebrokenrattle on January 31, 2014 at 9:50 PM

We all know how well sanctions worked in Iraq. It’s just a prelude to another war paid for by the American taxpayer and with the blood of good men who are sent to their death by old men and women in Washington. Let’s let Israel take care of it like they did when they bombed Iraq’s nuclear facility in the early 80s.

Let the EU deal with it, let Israel deal with it. They can’t reach us, and we shouldn’t be paying to defend Israel or Saudi Arabia. Look at you people, just frothing at the mouth for more war.

MoreLiberty on January 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM

That kind of thinking died out with WW2. Not because of progressivism, but because isolationism is a proven failure.

The oceans don’t protect us any longer. Planes cross the oceans in a matter of hours.

Iolationism is just a delusion that the world will leave us alone if we leave them alone. Sorry, too late for such pretensions.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 31, 2014 at 11:03 PM

This idiocy pretty much eliminates Rand Paul as a serious presidential candidate. His obliviousness to evil is a sure disqualifier.

paulus1 on January 31, 2014 at 11:23 PM

A long-winded version of the Dual Loyalty charge, i.e. sadsushi wants a leader who puts Israeli needs before our own. sadsushi does not wish for any America leader to put Israel first, it just so happens that Israeli interests and American ones are often similar if not the same. Your interpretation of a diversion of those interests sounds more Obama-like than you’d like to admit.

thebrokenrattle on January 31, 2014 at 9:50 PM

Thank you..well said

sadsushi on February 1, 2014 at 5:01 PM