I found Ron Paul’s foreign policy views during the 2012 campaign for the GOP nomination to be deeply troubling when they weren’t simply embarrassing. I’m sure if I’d been paying attention to his congressional career I could extend the statement beyond the 2012 campaign. During the campaign one memorable lowlight came when Paul attributed 9/11 to the foreign policy of the United States. As I understood him, Paul sought for us to alter our foreign policy to bring it more in line with the views of our terrorist critics (i.e., enemies).
Ron Paul’s foreign policy views made him an outlier in the GOP field. They make him an outlier among Americans generally. To put it charitably, there is a reason he comes across as a crank.
As Rand Paul seeks to fashion himself a national figure, I wonder how close Senator Paul’s views are to those of his father. Does Senator Paul simply make a smarter presentation of the same disagreeable views? My guess is that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I found distinct echoes of Ron Paul in Rand Paul’s questioning of Victoria Nuland before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. Nuland has served most recently as the spokesman for the State Department
spokesman and therefore been immersed in all manner of deliberations over the administration’s line on the Benghazi attacks (including the infamous “talking points”). Nuland has now been nominated for the post of assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. She came before the Foreign Relations Committee in connection with her nomination.
In the video at the bottom of this post, Senator Paul’s questioning of Nuland begins at about 7:00. Senator Paul tried to engage Nuland in a discussion about the CIA annex to our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, but Nuland begged off, as he certainly knew she would. Nuland invited him to take up the issue with her in a closed session. Senator Paul said he suspected that the attacks may have revolved around arms being taken from one group and sent to another through the CIA annex.
“We can’t get to the truth,” Senator Paul said. “That’s the problem with running secret government and running secret wars. We can’t have oversight because we don’t have any information.” (The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire noted the exchange here, and I am using the Journal account for this post.)
I don’t know what the annex was used for, but I bet Senator Paul does. In any event, I think he can certainly find out if he hasn’t already. He implies that the classification of the use of the annex is somehow improper. And if if in fact the annex was used as he suspects (or knows), then what? I found the exchange to combine bad faith with disagreeable views in roughly equal measure.