The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson has taken umbrage with Sen. Rand Paul for wanting to cut foreign aid:
“[P]aul’s crusade against aid is most notable as a failure of leadership,” Gerson writes, because,
It lacks proportion, since the total of humanitarian assistance amounts to less than 1 percent of the federal budget — an expenditure irrelevant to the United States’ long-term, structural fiscal challenge. Paul is appealing to a narrow element of the conservative coalition rather than encouraging serious conservative reflection on public problems. And he is targeting some of the most vulnerable people in the world for ideological, rather than fiscal, reasons, attempting to undermine bipartisan, humanitarian achievements on AIDS, malaria and other issues that have saved millions of lives.
One could certainly argue that a strong national defense is one of the few things a government ought to be concerned with. But does aid — even if one removes the humanitarian arguments — constitute as a form of realpolitik?
This is a debate worth having. In the post-Bush, post-Romney world, it remains unclear which argument will win the day.
As I’ve noted in the past, Sen. Paul’s foreign policy positions will likely become a hotly-debated topic — if and when he runs for president — particularly if the future of the party pits his vision against other up-and-comers like Senators Rubio and Ayotte.
A Paul candidacy would be about more than just a candidate. It could be an epic clash — a big debate over the heart and soul of the Republican Party.