Rand Paul's foreign policy speech: No to isolationism, no to neoconservatism, yes to containment

Carve out time for the video or the transcript, as he’s already the GOP’s leading advocate after two short years in the Senate for less intervention abroad. If you’re not interested in it on the merits, watch it anyway as a sneak preview of a flashpoint in the 2016 primaries. Paul is already thinking about running and he’s very, very likely to clash with you know who on this subject if he does. But distinguishing himself from GOP hawks is only half the goal here; the other half, as is often true lately, is distinguishing himself from his pop. Which explains why the speech begins with an indictment of radical Islam, including this pointed comment:

As many are quick to note, the war is not with Islam but with a radical element of Islam – the problem is that this element is no small minority but a vibrant, often mainstream, vocal and numerous minority. Whole countries, such as Saudi Arabia, adhere to at least certain radical concepts such as the death penalty for blasphemy, conversion, or apostasy. A survey in Britain after the subway bombings showed 20% of the Muslim population in Britain approved of the violence.

Some libertarians argue that western occupation fans the flames of radical Islam – I agree. But I don’t agree that absent western occupation that radical Islam “goes quietly into that good night.” I don’t agree with FDR’s VP Henry Wallace that the Soviets (or Radical Islam in today’s case) can be discouraged by “the glad hand and the winning smile.”

The question about Paul for mainstream conservatives, now and for the next few years, is whether he really is qualitatively different from Ron in his view of international affairs or whether he’s simply a far, far savvier salesman of Paulism. Exit quotation:

During Wednesday’s conference call, he said in response to a question from the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Jim Carroll that the purpose of the speech was “separating myself.” He didn’t say from whom he was separating himself, but in a later question from The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake, he said “there are definite differences” between the two Pauls, and “I think it’s better just to try to be my own person.”