Sen. Rand Paul stood out with his steady, uncompromising appeal to remain committed to the foundation of our republic: the Constitution. No matter the threats from Islamic jihadists, we can’t abandon the fundamentals of freedom that make this nation great. This is why we need Paul. We need his voice.
We constantly hear that while Paul is a great defender of liberty who speaks for the people as well as any “outsider,” his foreign policy somehow disqualifies him from being the commander in chief. The term “isolationist” is often leveled against him, but is this an accurate descriptor of his foreign policy? Is he soft on terror? Would he make America weaker? Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s begin with Paul’s response to the question of how to keep America safe from terrorism:
Trump says we should close that Internet thing. The question really is what does he mean by that? Like they do in North Korea? Like they do in China? Rubio says we should collect all of Americans’ records all of the time. The Constitution says otherwise. I think they’re both wrong. I think we defeat terrorism by showing them that we do not fear them. I think we if ban certain religions or censure the Internet I think that at that point the terrorists will have won.
Regime change hasn’t won. Toppling secular dictators in the Middle East has only led to chaos and the rise of radical Islam. I think if we want to defeat terrorism, I think if we truly are sincere about defeating terrorism we need to stop arming the allies of ISIS. If we want to defeat terrorism, the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots on the ground. As commander in chief, I will do whatever it takes to defend America. But in defending America, we cannot lose what America stands for. Today is the Bill of Rights’ anniversary. I hope we will remember that and cherish that in the fight on terrorism.
When it comes to keeping America safe, Paul is committed to a sound foreign policy without abandoning the Constitution. This is an important point, as the electorate is tempted to crown Caesar in its fervor to defeat our enemy “at any cost.” While the passion and fear are understandable, sacrificing liberty is too high a price to pay.
Peace Through Strength
But this doesn’t mean we just lie down and let our enemies storm the gates. This is Paul’s point. He will defend our nation, but without losing our nation’s soul. In a speech in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, Paul made this point clear when he talked about going to war:
There is no greater responsibility for a legislator or leader than to determine when we go to war. The consequences are potentially ominous. That responsibility should never be given to any individual who frivolously or cavalierly calls for war. War brings with it great obligations. These obligations do not end when our brave men and women come home. It’s just the beginning. One thing I know is true is we owe a debt of gratitude for the men and women who fight for our Bill of Rights. We owe the next generation of warriors the wisdom to know when war is necessary or not necessary. I promise you this, I will never forget our veterans. I will never forget our soldiers in the field. I will never take the country to war without just cause and without constitutional approval of Congress.
As commander in chief, Paul would let the world know that our objective is peace: “but the world will not mistake our desire for peace for pacificity. The world should not mistake our reluctance for peace for inaction. If war should prove unavoidable, America will fight with overwhelming force and we will not relent until victory is ours.” In this, Paul echoes Ronald Reagan’s “Peace through strength.”
Integral to that effort is understanding how to actually defeat ISIS. That means not tearing down regimes that help stabilize the region, not arming our enemies or supporting allies of terror, not providing safe spaces for the rot of terrorism to fester and expand, empowering law enforcement with the tools they need at home, and putting stricter controls on those who come here.
The Obama administration has failed in all of these areas, destabilizing the Middle East and strengthening radical Islamists. Not only has Obama failed to destroy ISIS as he promised last year before adopting the slippery language of “containment,” but he has put Americans’ liberties at risk. Many in the Republican Party want to do the same.
Face It: We Armed ISIS
Paul places the blame for the rise of ISIS not only at the feet of Obama but GOP hawks who unwittingly armed our enemies. “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately,” Rand has said. “And most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS. These hawks also wanted to bomb [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], which would have made ISIS’s job even easier. They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved — they loved [former Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They just wanted more of it.”
The Republican Party, Paul says, has been wrong on foreign policy for the last 20 years, yet they criticize him for wanting a smarter, stronger, more fiscally responsible, and—this is key—more constitutionally sound foreign policy that will actually defeat our enemies. We can be both strong and protect American liberties.
Paul wrote in his budget proposal, “A Clear Vision to Revitalize America,” that “in the name of national security, the fundamental rights and protections of the American legal system have been eroded; bureaucrats have assumed the power to label, at their discretion, individuals as ‘terrorist,’ and deny these individuals due process. The government has further expanded their ability to secretly wiretap Americans and store the email of virtually every web user in the country without a court-ordered warrant. Intrusive new bureaucracies, like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), have become a staple of our life. Where the pinnacle of a democracy was once the freedom of travel, it has now become an arena which consistently violates our protections against search and seizure, as well as a forum where citizens are harassed, abused, and mistreated.”
America’s national security mandate shouldn’t reflect isolationism, Paul insisted, but it shouldn’t be reckless, either: “A foreign policy that is reluctant, restrained by constitutional checks and balances but does not appease; this balance should heed the advice of America’s sixth president, John Quincy Adams, who advised, ‘America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.’”
Fiscal Prodigals Threaten Our Security
One key to securing America’s freedoms is fiscal responsibility. “In fiscal year 2013, the Department of Defense will spend roughly $600 billion,” Paul has said. “Our ability to continue to spend at this rate and level is limited, and therefore the ability to preserve our military strength can only continue if we begin to strengthen our fiscal standing.”
Fiscal responsibility is fundamental to Paul’s foreign policy, and it makes sense. If we’re indebted to other nations, we are beholden to them and are weaker because of it. If we can’t fund our military, we can’t defend our nation. Paul rightly said he is the most fiscally responsible candidate on the stage. But does this mean that he wants to cut our military to ineffective levels at a time when our enemy is growing stronger? No.
“We need a national defense robust enough to defend against all attack, modern enough to deter all enemies, and nimble enough to defend our vital interests,” Paul said at the beginning of his campaign and after he proposed a $48 billion increase in the Pentagon budget.
Those who accuse Paul of wanting to cut the military in half are wrong. He proposes a reduction by approximately 23 to 30 percent, not 50, and these cuts will be focused on overseas operations that are no longer effective. His budget would take defense appropriations from $521 billion in 2014 to $634 billion in 2023. That’s not as much of an increase as the Congressional Budget Office suggests, but it is still not the draconian cuts people have accused him of making.
Fiscal responsibility is inextricably bound to national security. His proposals to make $2 trillion in tax cuts, repeal the entire Internal Revenue Service tax code, and to replace it with a low, broad-based tax of 14.5 percent on individuals and businesses would go a long way in making America safer.
I would eliminate nearly every special-interest loophole. The plan also eliminates the payroll tax on workers and several federal taxes outright, including gift and estate taxes, telephone taxes, and all duties and tariffs. I call this ‘The Fair and Flat Tax.’ The Fair and Flat Tax eliminates payroll taxes, which are seized by the IRS from a worker’s paychecks before a family ever sees the money. This will boost the incentive for employers to hire more workers, and raise after-tax income by at least 15 percent over 10 years.
By balancing the budget and paying down government debt, Paul’s plan will let Americans go back to work. Paul’s plan would reduce the national debt by trillions of dollars over time when combined with his package of spending cuts. This is just as important to foreign policy as proposing increased air strikes or boots on the ground, a point only Paul is making. This along with his focus on being loyal to the Constitution even in the face of terrorism makes his voice in the debate invaluable.