In the face of conservative critics slamming his foreign policy views, Sen. Rand Paul has penned a Washington Post op-ed, attempting to center his historically Libertarian foreign policy views with the center of the party as he eyes a 2016 run.
In the op-ed published Wednesday, Paul argues for a strategically vague foreign policy and aligns himself with former President Ronald Reagan.
In 2012, the freshly minted Kentucky senator was the sole Senate vote against a resolution rejecting policies of nuclear containment for Iran. Earlier this month, he re-upped the debate, saying that “all options should be on the table” with Iran.
Paul comes clean in the op-ed.
“I am not for containment in Iran. Let me repeat that, since no one seems to be listening closely: I am unequivocally not for containing Iran,” Paul writes. “I am also not for announcing that the United States should never contain Iran.”
He criticizes those who want specificity out of him—despite the fact that Paul is openly considering a presidential bid in 2016—because he says it isn’t strategic.
“Nuance has been a bit lacking in our foreign policy of late. Whether through preemptive war or “red lines” that were crossed without consequence, the extremes of foreign policy have had their way, and it has not worked,” Paul writes.
He says this is an answer to the question Republicans love to ask: What would Reagan do?
“In fact, Reagan often practiced strategic ambiguity. He thought, as many other presidents have, that we should not announce to our enemies what we might do in every conceivable hypothetical situation,” he said.
In 2009, ahead of his Senate run, Paul told a group of students that Dick Cheney started the war in Iraq for his own profit—a view conservatives say comes from the far, far Left. In op-eds, conservatives slammed him earlier this week.
Paul “will soon be running for an office where your view of the world matters profoundly, and his instincts sometimes seem more appropriate to a dorm-room bull session than the Situation Room,” the National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote on Tuesday, calling his foreign policy views “dewy-eyed foolishness.”
In the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens goes farther, sarcastically endorsing Paul as a candidate with “glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him,” writing that what the Republican Party needs is “another humbling landslide defeat”—something Paul can give them.