Rand Paul is winning his fight with the GOP's hawks

For honest hawks like Cheney, that’s the harsh cost of doing business in a broken world that will turn against us unless we keep it off balance. For an honest hawk, America simply lacks the money, the resources, and the willpower to march around the world challenging all its foes to full-on tank battles in an open field. Honest hawks admit that World War Two-style warfighting and World War Two-style patriotism have died, arm in arm, of old age. Today, they admit, we’re the lone superpower, and if we want to project our power, we have to do it under the table, operating in a shadow world most of us don’t want to imagine and will never get to see.

We the People are on a need-to-know basis, and we don’t need to know.

For another breed of hawks, that’s too depressing to deal with. Deep in denial, naive hawks insist that there’s no real moral burden involved in a muscular foreign policy. For them, having our way around the world is actually morally purifying. Through the discipline of achieving courageous clarity about our friends and our enemies, we attain the clearest understanding of our own national character. “They hate us for who we are,” we say.

Sadly, this patriotic purity leads naive hawks to pathologically obscure and suppress the unsavory deeds that honest hawks know keep the train of world order from running off the rails. For the naive hawks, Paul’s attack on the dark side of U.S. foreign policy fosters a dilemma. On the one hand, they want nothing more than to make his remarks disappear. On the other, they’re so offended, they have to respond.