In his speech, Paul presented himself as a modern-day George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment. “What the United States needs is a foreign policy that finds that middle path,” he argued, reading from a teleprompter. “A policy that is not rash or reckless. A foreign policy that is reluctant, restrained by constitutional checks and balances but does not appease.”

But in the details of his speech, Paul didn’t say much about where his foreign policy would allow for intervention. He was skeptical of involvement in Iran and Syria, mentioned concerns about Iraq and urged less military support for Egypt. Paul hurried through his speech in 20 minutes and then bolted from the lectern before questions could be asked. Such sessions at Heritage generally last an hour, including questions.

In his call with reporters later, he returned to a tone that sounded more isolationist — or, as modern isolationists call themselves, non-interventionists. “We supported a concept of radical jihad against the Soviets, and it came back to bite us,” he said. “Some people argue keeping the shah in power ultimately came back to bite us.” Calling for the United States to “be more hesitant,” he argued that in Syria “we shouldn’t be arming one side or the other.”