Neocons initially treated Rand Paul like a double agent. “On foreign policy, GWOT [Global War on Terror], Gitmo, Afghanistan, Rand Paul is NOT one of us,” former Dick Cheney aide Cesar Conda wrote in a March 2010 email message to many people affiliated with the Foreign Policy Initiative, including directors William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Dan Senor. “It is our hope that you can help us get the word out about Rand Paul’s troubling and dangerous views on foreign policy.”

But since then Paul has engaged in a remarkably successful campaign to woo Republican hawks just enough to earn his comparatively radical foreign policy a respectful hearing from people who wouldn’t give his father the time of day. As a result, libertarian ideas about reducing America’s vast global footprint are no longer on the margins of the GOP debate: they’re being championed by a respected senator who is considered a credible candidate for the party’s next presidential nominee. …

That’s where Rand Paul comes in, to the occasional chagrin of Ron Paul’s fan base. While Sen. Paul has fought to de-authorize the War on Terror and explicitly delink sanctions from war as a response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he also voted yes on the sanctions. While he repeated Ron Paul’s position about ending foreign aid to Israel, he has prioritized ending foreign aid and military sales to Israel’s enemies first and even declared in January that an attack on the Jewish state should be treated as an attack on the United States. In a major foreign policy address in February, he made clear he was not a carbon copy of his father. “There are definite differences,” he declared.