Among Republican officials and likely presidential candidates, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) used to be quite enthusiastic about breaking with party orthodoxy on Israel. Occasionally, the Kentucky Republican has impressed Israel critics on the left by going further than politicians in either party, even suggesting in 2011
that the United States cut off aid to Israel.
But that was before. Now, Rand Paul is reading from his party's script, as evidenced by his National Review piece
I think it is clear by now: Israel has shown remarkable restraint. It possesses a military with clear superiority over that of its Palestinian neighbors, yet it does not respond to threat after threat, provocation after provocation, with the type of force that would decisively end their conflict. But sometimes restraint can work against you. Sometimes you just have to say, enough is enough.
It'd be worth hearing more about Paul's thoughts on the use of force "that would decisively end their conflict." What exactly might that entail? What would the scope of a military assault look like that would "decisively end" the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians?
Just how much bloodshed should the world expect once the "enough is enough" moment arrives?
What's more, Paul has gone from suggesting in 2011 that U.S. cut off aid to Israel to now calling for the end of U.S. aid to Palestinians.
Jon Chait noted
His op-ed proceeds to demand the cutoff of aid -- which is opposed by AIPAC, for the obvious reason that it would create even more dysfunction and empower terrorists. Paul's bill does boast the support of the extreme right-wing group Zionist Organization of America. Paul's gambit here is obviously to win over Republican hawks justifiably concerned he shares his father's kook foreign-policy ideology. His remedy is to embrace a different kind of kookery.
Let's also note the highly relevant context that tensions in Israel are boiling over right now. As Ed Kilgore added
, "It's not a real good time for irresponsible statements by U.S. politicians."
And yet, here we are.