Let the primaries begin: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz battle over foreign policy

posted at 11:21 am on March 10, 2014 by Allahpundit

Like the Cold War itself, it’s all very diplomatic but has the potential to escalate quickly. Or rather, was very diplomatic: The line in Paul’s op-ed at Breitbart this morning lamenting certain unnamed critics “who have never seen war talking tough for the sake of their political careers” makes me think this could get nasty fast. Matt Lewis covered some of the history between them last week but here’s a quickie timeline if you haven’t followed it. Back in November, the NYT opened a story about the nascent battle for the 2016 tea-party vote with this tidbit:

But when Mr. Cruz went to New York City to meet with donors this summer, he privately offered a different view of Mr. Paul: The Kentucky senator can never be elected president, he told them, because he can never fully detach himself from the strident libertarianism of his father, former Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

Word of Mr. Cruz’s remarks reached Mr. Paul’s inner circle, touching off anger and resentment.

That got a lot of attention when the story first ran. What hasn’t gotten as much attention is the fact that Cruz had been trying to quietly separate himself from Paul on foreign policy for months before that, telling Time magazine last August that McCain and Paul represent the two poles of Republican opinion on foreign policy and that Cruz himself follows a more Reaganesque line between them. That’s as transparent a bit of triangulation as you’ll ever see, but it’s a clever way to frame Paul as extreme. If superhawk John McCain is one end of the spectrum and Rand Paul is the other, how radical must Paul be?

Fast-forward to late February, when Paul told WaPo (before Russia invaded Crimea) that while it’s fine to support Ukraine, it’d be foolish to needlessly antagonize a major power like Moscow by inviting Kiev to join NATO, as McCain had been doing. Some hawks in the party, he said, want to gratuitously “tweak” Moscow all the time. I was struck at the time by how different he sounded from Cruz, who’d been criticizing Russia harshly for weeks. Two weeks later, while attendeding a foreign policy event being held to coincide with CPAC, Cruz repeated his old point about McCain, Paul, and Reagan and bloggers took notice.

Evidently that was the last straw for Paul, who knows that his biggest liability in the primaries is being seen as too much like his old man on foreign policy. The longer he waits to rebut Cruz, the greater the risk that Cruz will define him in tea partiers’ eyes as unacceptably dovish. So this weekend brought a flurry of responses. On “Fox News Sunday,” he told Chris Wallace that his foreign policy is in line with George H.W. Bush’s (would President Paul have led a coalition against Saddam Hussein?) and mentioned points of agreement between himself and Reagan. Then, when Wallace asked him about Cruz’s jab at Bob Dole, McCain, and Romney for being too centrist to win their elections, Paul added this:

Asked on Fox about Cruz’s remarks, Paul said, “Everybody has their own style,” but added, “I don’t spend a lot of time trying to drag people down.”

“Can we do things different to get the party bigger? There’s always ways we can get bigger, particularly when we don’t win,” he continued. “But I don’t spend any time sort of trying to criticize others in the party, because I realize the party has to be bigger, not smaller.”

While Paul was saying that, Cruz himself was on “This Week” saying this:

“I’m a big fan of Rand Paul,” Cruz said, “but I don’t agree with him on foreign policy. I think U.S. leadership is critical in the world. I agree with him that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force abroad. But I think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did. When Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire, when he stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate and said, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,’ those words changed the course of history. The United States has a responsibility to defend our values.”

Skip to around 1:50 of the clip below. Yet again, Cruz had claimed the mantle of Reagan in drawing a distinction with Paul.

So Paul replied today with two op-eds. One, at Time magazine, emphasizes “strong action against Putin’s aggression.” Sanctions, international isolation for Putin, and, most notably, a reminder that “it is our role as a global leader to be the strongest nation in opposing Russia’s latest aggression” — it’s as hawkish as anything you’d see from Cruz or Marco Rubio, a few paragraphs at the end about not launching interventions we can’t pay for aside. He even calls for re-installing a U.S. missile shield in eastern Europe, provided that Europeans pick up the cost. A key passage:

Reagan’s policy of “peace through strength” requires strength of the sort President Obama now fails to project. But what some American leaders, including some in my own party, often forget is that lasting peace was always Reagan’s ultimate objective.

I have said, and some have taken exception, that too many U.S. leaders still think in Cold War terms and are quick to “tweak” the international community. This is true.

But mutual respect and practical diplomacy is a two-way street, where Russia or any other nation should not be tweaking us either, or their neighbors.

Putin’s invasion and occupation of Crimea certainly now goes far beyond tweaking.

I’m curious to see how libertarians and paleocons react to that. Russia dominating its satellite states was, I thought, a classic case of “MYOB” given that there are few American national interests involved. The other op-ed, at Breitbart (and linked up top), is a direct rebuke to members of his own party who shall remain nameless to stop “warping” Reagan’s foreign policy. Guess who this is aimed at. Hint: Not McCain.

Every Republican likes to think he or she is the next Ronald Reagan. Some who say this do so for lack of their own ideas and agenda. Reagan was a great leader and President. But too often people make him into something he wasn’t in order to serve their own political purposes…

Many forget today that Reagan’s decision to meet with Mikhail Gorbachev was harshly criticized by the Republican hawks of his time, some of whom would even call Reagan an appeaser. In the Middle East, Reagan strategically pulled back our forces after the tragedy in Lebanon in 1983 that killed 241 Marines, realizing the cost of American lives was too great for the mission…

I don’t claim to be the next Ronald Reagan nor do I attempt to disparage fellow Republicans as not being sufficiently Reaganesque. But I will remind anyone who thinks we will win elections by trashing previous Republican nominees or holding oneself out as some paragon in the mold of Reagan, that splintering the party is not the route to victory…

Yet, some politicians have used this time to beat their chest. What we don’t need right now is politicians who have never seen war talking tough for the sake of their political careers.

Paul’s never seen war either and, after that Time op-ed, he’s talking about as tough as anyone. The obvious move for Cruz now, if he wants to escalate further, is to claim that Paul’s the one posturing for political ends, posing as some sort of Reagan/Bush “peace through strength” negotiator when, Cruz could argue, he’d follow the Ron Paul line in office if elected. But maybe Cruz doesn’t need to respond; maybe the whole point here is to bait Paul into hawkishness knowing that some libertarians will grumble about it. Then, when/if Paul tries to satisfy them by taking a more dovish line in the future, some of the grassroots conservatives intrigued by his newly hawkish stance on Russia will wonder if Cruz is right that Paul is privately more dovish than everyone thinks. The more the two sides of Paul’s base have reason to doubt he’d be their guy in office, the more difficult Paul’s task becomes.

Exit question: Quien es mas Reagan?


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Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 10:37 PM

Thanks Cindy. I have a few that I want to send a donation also. Can’t do a lot, but at least to let them know they have support out here.

I resent them blocking anyone other than their own State. That’s why I call. A few of their Staff try to bulk, but I tell them right up front what State I’m calling from and even my District:-)

I feel that as long as their vote effects me, I have a right to voice my opinion.

You did take note of who is having the big fundraiser for McConnell in a couple of weeks?

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 10:44 PM

When I finished a comment a couple of minutes ago and hit submit comment, I got the following:

The website cannot display the page

HTTP 405

Most likely cause:
•The website has a programming error.

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 10:48 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 10, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Thank you very much. I doubt he really cares what Reagan said, we have a lot of party people here and they twist their pearls if we all don’t use our inside voices.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 10:49 PM

You did take note of who is having the big fundraiser for McConnell in a couple of weeks?

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 10:44 PM

I didn’t, so I don’t know. This is a bit hard for me because I don’t dislike Sen. McConnell and in general don’t think he has done a terrible job. But he has gotten a real case of DC syndrome, forgetting that he is neither entitled to his job and who is his employer. Since he is the minority leader, I think it is safe to say that he can expect a wider range of contacts. If he wants to be the majority leader, he needs to be a leader and that doesn’t include crushing people or punching them in the nose.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 10:53 PM

Just as their first significant public conflict as 2016 frontrunners was starting to heat up, Ted Cruz has some nice things to say about his colleague Rand Paul.

“Rand Paul is a courageous voice for liberty, and I’m honored to call him my friend,” Cruz said in a written statement, adding that the two have agreed on the “vast majority of issues.”

“We do not agree on everything, especially regarding foreign policy, but we have agreed on the vast majority of issues, and I am sure we will continue to do so. Substantive policy disagreements are a positive aspect of the political discourse, but in the fight for liberty, I am proud to stand with Rand,” Cruz said.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/10/Ted-Cruz-Brings-It-Down-A-Notch-In-Fledgling-Fight-With-Rand-Paul

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 10:54 PM

@ Cindy, my comment this thread bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 3:16 PM

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 10:53 PM

Maybe Reid’s arrogance has rubbed off on him, LOL

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 11:00 PM

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Yep, thanks for refreshing my memory, I did read that. That’s fine. I’m not all that interested in Sen. McConnell losing as I am at him learning a valuable life lesson. If it takes losing to do that, so be it.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 11:03 PM

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 11:00 PM

Arrogance and crazy are an interesting combination.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 11:04 PM

Really, who? McConnell has supported the Administration’s agenda.

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 3:46 PM

What color is the sky in the world in which you live…?

JohnGalt23 on March 10, 2014 at 11:12 PM

Really, who? McConnell has supported the Administration’s agenda.

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 3:46 PM

I wonder if Debo Adegbile would agree with that…

JohnGalt23 on March 10, 2014 at 11:16 PM

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Yep, thanks for refreshing my memory, I did read that. That’s fine. I’m not all that interested in Sen. McConnell losing as I am at him learning a valuable life lesson. If it takes losing to do that, so be it.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 11:03 PM

I think it is too late for many in Congress. Their seat of power and money has caused them to become the servants of same.

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 11:18 PM

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 11:00 PM

Arrogance and crazy are an interesting combination.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 11:04 PM

Trying to figure out which comes first:-)

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 11:21 PM

Really, who? McConnell has supported the Administration’s agenda.

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 3:46 PM

So much so that the Dems overturned the filibuster in order to… oh wait… if Mitch McConnell was supporting the Administration’s agenda, why did they overturn the filibuster again?

You really haven’t thought this through, have you…?

JohnGalt23 on March 10, 2014 at 11:21 PM

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 3:46 PM

What color is the sky in the world in which you live…?

JohnGalt23 on March 10, 2014 at 11:12 PM

That is not an answer to my question.

I’ll take this question to me as a surrender on your part:-)

QOTD is up.

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 11:24 PM

That is not an answer to my question.

I’ll take this question to me as a surrender on your part:-)

QOTD is up.
bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 11:24 PM

What question? Who was a worse leader for the GOP in the Senate? How about Bob Dole? How about Howard Baker? Do you want to put their conservative cred up against Mitch McConnell? Once again, what color is the sky in your world? Because if you do, you are high.

Now, how about laying down some instances of where Mitch McConnell voted with the Administration, or admit that you cannot…

JohnGalt23 on March 10, 2014 at 11:28 PM

I’ll take this question to me as a surrender on your part:-)

QOTD is up.
bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 11:24 PM

I’m sorry… running away are we? Gutless are we?

About what I expected…

JohnGalt23 on March 10, 2014 at 11:30 PM

Can you say “I’m voting third party?”
bw222 on March 10, 2014 at 2:18 PM

I truly believe that nominating Jeb Bush would result in a serious third party candidate. I don’t think many people will be too excited about another Bush-Clinton election.
midgeorgian on March 10, 2014 at 2:34 PM

I’m done with dynasties. If I wanted that I’d move to England (and my people have been here for 17,000 years*, plus).

In our country one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out. – William Tecumseh Sherman
VorDaj on March 10, 2014 at 4:59 PM

As an old veteran, I agree wholeheartedly. It’s easy to promote death from an armchair.
And thanks to Good Lt. It’s good to have pure ideals, but that doesn’t win elections. If nothing else, Reagan had charisma.

*http://www.politifake.org/facebookview.php?id=27234

Nape-wa-ste on March 10, 2014 at 11:45 PM

Paul pulling the knife out of his back today. There are no friends among fellow presidential aspirants.

cimbri on March 11, 2014 at 2:22 AM

John McCain and his neo-con minions do not value the lives and limbs of those they would throw in harm’s way at the drop of a hat for interventions that are not in the vital interests of America.

Rand Paul and his minions like to blame America for every evil that exists in the world,and if we just become ostrich-like then Russian imperialism and jihad will miraculously come to an end.

Neither extreme serves the vital interests of America or the American people.

redware on March 11, 2014 at 8:21 AM

What question? Who was a worse leader for the GOP in the Senate? How about Bob Dole? How about Howard Baker? Do you want to put their conservative cred up against Mitch McConnell? Once again, what color is the sky in your world? Because if you do, you are high.
Now, how about laying down some instances of where Mitch McConnell voted with the Administration, or admit that you cannot…
JohnGalt23 on March 10, 2014 at 11:28 PM

How about these:
1. Amnesty
2. Funding Obamacare
3. Raising the debt ceiling
4. Raising taxes

By the way, you have no idea who John Galt is. The character from Ayn Rand did not support the socialist utopian worldview that you present on your comments

Brock Robamney on March 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

@ JohnGalt23

A repost to refresh your memory. Changing the subject isn’t going to work with me. Stay on point. You made a statement and I replied and also asked you a question. The ball is in your court.
*****************************************************************

And frankly, I’m not that unhappy about the way he has conducted himself as a leader. I sure as hell have seen worse…

JohnGalt23 on March 10, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Really, who? McConnell has supported the Administration’s agenda.
Boehner & Reid carry the water and McConnell holds the buckets. To say you have seen worse, then you must be saying that you’ve seen a worse Administration than this one.

What legislation has been passed by Boehner, Reid & McConnell that has been pro American and promoted Freedom? I’ll wait, but not too long since I have errands to run. I’ll check back in tho:-)

bluefox on March 10, 2014 at 3:46 PM
******************************************************************
Note: I checked back in and you changed the subject instead of answering my question.

bluefox on March 11, 2014 at 11:54 AM

JohnGalt23 on March 10, 2014 at 11:28 PM

How about these:
1. Amnesty
2. Funding Obamacare
3. Raising the debt ceiling
4. Raising taxes

By the way, you have no idea who John Galt is. The character from Ayn Rand did not support the socialist utopian worldview that you present on your comments

Brock Robamney on March 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Thank you. I’m sure there are more, but don’t have time to review my notes.

bluefox on March 11, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Thank you. I’m sure there are more, but don’t have time to review my notes.
bluefox on March 11, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Here is a little blast from the recent past:

Brock Robamney on March 11, 2014 at 12:43 PM

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