Rand Paul to outline ‘constitutional conservative’ foreign policy

W. James Antle III | Managing Editor

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul will deliver a wide-ranging foreign policy address at the Heritage Foundation next Wednesday, marking the tea party lawmaker’s latest foray into international affairs.

“At this lecture, Senator Rand Paul will discuss his vision of a foreign policy that respects the plain language of our Constitution, the legal powers of Congress and the important role of a strong presidency,” the invitation says. “It will stress the need for maintaining the strongest national defense among nations while also questioning what constitutes actual ‘defense.'”

Paul acknowledges the United States “presently faces national security challenges from hostile nations throughout the world,” but argues that “overextending our military forces by engaging in prolonged conflict throughout the Middle East and around the globe has not been an effective foreign policy. ”

“Sen. Paul will ask what qualifies as America’s genuine national interest,” according to the invitation. “He will also ask what aspects of our current policies do not.”

Paul recently returned from a trip to Israel, in which he expressed his strong support for the Jewish state as a democratic ally while reiterating his skepticism of foreign aid and interventionism abroad. The Heritage speech is likely to continue this trend. (RELATED — Rand Paul: An attack on Israel is an attack on the U.S.)

The senator’s foreign policy views have become the topic of increasing speculation, after Paul was assigned to the Senate foreign relations committee and reportedly held meetings with “neoconservative pro-Israel foreign policy hands.” He was also hard-hitting in his questioning of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her testimony about Benghazi.

Paul has given one previous extended talk on foreign affairs, a speech to Johns Hopkins University a few months after he took office in 2011.

“There are times, such as existed in Afghanistan with the bin Laden terrorist camps, that do require intervention,” Paul said. “Maybe, we could be somewhere, some of the time and do so while respecting our Constitution and the legal powers of Congress and the presidency.”

“I believe we are much closer to being everywhere all the time than nowhere any of the time. And I think this needs to change.”

Paul’s Hopkins talk was billed as a call for a “conservative constitutional foreign policy.” His Heritage lecture is similarly advertised as outlining how a “constitutionally conservative foreign policy would better serve and protect the United States.”

Like his father, former Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, the senator may seek the GOP presidential nomination. His father’s campaigns were stymied by his views on foreign policy and the perception that he was anti-Israel.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a possible 2016 rival for the younger Paul, delivered a speech at the Brookings Institution last April, making the case for “a robust and muscular foreign policy.”

Former South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint was named president of the Heritage Foundation in December, and he will officially take over in April. He had become a frequent Paul ally and joined the Kentucky senator in voting to revoke authorization for the Iraq war.

Paul’s speech will coincide with Ronald Reagan’s 102nd birthday.

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