It gets a little tiresome to hear Republicans complain about President Obama’s handling on the crisis in Ukraine without suggesting credible alternatives. Too often, the rhetoric is little more than vague platitudes – he should be “tougher” and “lead more” – when the right isn’t calling for specific actions the White House is already taking.
So it was heartening to see Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) publish an 830-word op-ed on the subject in Time. The good news is, the senator has a plan he’s eager to share. The bad news is, his vision for U.S. foreign policy is truly awful (thanks to my colleague Tricia McKinney for the heads-up).
After some throat-clearing, the Kentucky Republican spells out the “specific and decisive measures” he’d like to see incorporated into U.S. foreign policy. Here’s the gist:
1. “Economic sanctions and visa bans should be imposed and enforced without delay.”
2. Drill for more oil and gas in the U.S., and boost exports to Europe.
3. Build the Keystone XL Pipeline.
4. Suspend financial support to Ukraine.
5. Withdraw from this summer’s G-8 summit.
6. Put missile-defense technology in Poland and the Czech Republic, but only if they pay for it.
7. Don’t spend any money because “the U.S. is broke.”
Jon Chait calls the plan “completely nuts” and evidence of the senator letting out his “long-suppressed inner kook.” It’s a fair criticism.
Everything about Paul’s argument is weird. Part of the weirdness is conveyed by the prose, which is bereft of specific facts, repetitive, and reads as if it were run through a foreign-language translation program.
Let’s take Paul’s plan one provision at a time:
1. Obama’s already doing this.
2. That won’t help.
4. Punishing Ukraine financially right now is completely bizarre.
5. Obama’s already doing this.
6. Telling Poland and the Czech Republic to buy our military equipment probably won’t go over well.
7. No one with an even rudimentary understanding of U.S. finances could sensibly describe the country as “broke.”
I can appreciate the larger partisan circumstances – Paul is gearing up for a national race, burdened by the perception that he’s a foreign-policy lightweight. This op-ed only reinforces those fears.