Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who has not been coy about the fact he is considering a 2016 presidential run, will lay out his foreign policy vision in a speech at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.
The speech, entitled “Restoring the Founders’ Vision of Foreign Policy,” comes on the heels of a trip by Paul to Israel, where he sought to demonstrate his pro-Israel bona fides.
But questions still remain about what role Paul thinks America should play in the world, given his libertarian orientation. Hopefully his speech Tuesday will clearly delineate what a Paul presidency might look like in terms of foreign relations. (RELATED OPINION: Where does Paul really stand on foreign policy?)
To help him do that, below are 10 questions that it would be helpful for his speech to address — if not specifically, then at least generally. (Yes, it is heavy on historical questions, but I believe answers to such questions provide the best basis to understand how Paul will act if he wakes up in 2017 to find himself commander in chief.)
10.) On Oct. 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism. Backed by Russian arms, the Arab states initially put Israel on the defensive. Fearing a defeat of an American ally in the Middle East, Richard Nixon urgently sent arms to Israel to reinforce the Jewish state, helping ultimately to turn the tide. Do you believe that was an appropriate use of American power?
9.) You keep saying that you oppose foreign aid because we can’t afford it. But foreign aid is a miniscule portion of our budget. Our long-term budgetary problems are almost entirely embedded in our entitlement programs, particularly Medicare. Are you really under the impression that foreign aid is a key driver of our looming fiscal crisis? Are you saying that if we were in better financial shape you would have a different view of foreign aid — or is your case against foreign aid on financial grounds disingenuous?
8.) Should human rights considerations play any role at all in America’s foreign policy decisions? If so, how?
7.) What role does America have in a place like Mali, where jihadists linked to al-Qaida are seeking to carve out a safe haven?
6.) You have said you support defense cuts. How significantly do you want to cut the defense budget? How would you reduce America’s current role in accordance with such a reduced budget?
5.) Did you think American support of Britain under Lend-Lease before our entry into World War II was appropriate? Or do you think America should have remained neutral?
4.) In what circumstance could you imagine authorizing a military strike to set back Iran’s nuclear program? If, for instance, you became convinced that the Iranian leadership could not be convinced to halt their program diplomatically, and American intelligence said that the window for such an attack was rapidly narrowing, would you be willing to authorize a strike? Or do you think an American strike on Iranian nuclear installations would be worse than allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons?