The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (C) greets attendees as he arrives to speak at the Tea Party Patriots  U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (C) greets attendees as he arrives to speak at the Tea Party Patriots 'Exempt America from Obamacare' rally on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH CIVIL UNREST) - RTX13G2A  

Where would Ted Cruz go to war?

Photo of W. James Antle III
W. James Antle III
Editor, The Daily Caller News Foundation

It might have been the strangest moment of a bizarre campaign.

Mike Gravel, who hadn’t been in the Senate since 1981, somehow wandered on to the stage of a Democratic presidential debate. He turned to the eventual president of the United States and asked, “Who do you want to nuke, Barack?”

“I’m not planning to nuke anybody right now, Mike,” Obama replied. (It’s one of the few campaign promises he actually kept, but he still has almost three years.)

Rand Paul may soon have to take a page out of Gravel’s handbook — and I don’t mean recording a rap video.

Ted Cruz has been making his case for a more aggressive foreign policy with passive-aggressive swipes at Paul. The latest came in a Weekly Standard interview with Stephen Hayes.

“Cruz has spent the past several days on the receiving end of a barrage of attacks,” Hayes explains, because the “junior senator from Kentucky is angry — very angry it seems — that Cruz has used Paul’s views on foreign policy as a way to frame his own.”

“It’s hard to imagine Cruz could have been gentler in pointing out the differences,” Hayes adds. It’s true. There have been no Neville Chamberlain comparisons yet.

Paul has generally responded by arguing that his views, particularly on Russia and Ukraine, are not so far out of the Republican mainstream — either today or when Ronald Reagan was president.

That’s fine as far as it goes. After all, there’s a big difference between taking on an army of 600 men in Grenada, as Reagan did, and taking on a nuclear-armed Russia, as Reagan — despite his willingness to call the Soviets an evil empire — was more cautious about doing.

But Paul’s critics inside the Republican Party believe the best defense is a good offense. Instead of being defensive about his own foreign policy views, Paul should force his colleague from Texas to flesh out his more fully.

How far is Cruz willing to go to make sure Crimea remains part of Ukraine rather than Russia? Both tea party senators believe Vladimir Putin should be reproached and isolated diplomatically.

But if sanctions and even a reinstated anti-ballistic missile station don’t work or heighten tensions, what’s Cruz’s next move? Cruz has said he does agree with Paul “that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force abroad.” How reluctant?