In a much-anticipated speech on radical Islam, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky praised Ronald Reagan and advocated a policy of containment. The potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate on Wednesday sought to frame himself as a realist when it came to foreign policy.
Paul’s speech at the Heritage Foundation provided a contrast to the hands-off, non-interventionist foreign policy that brought his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a strong base of enthusiastic supporters. But, like his father, Paul said America needed to understand its enemies and criticized the lack of debate over foreign policy issues, particularly in regards to Iran.
“The debate over war is the most important debate that occurs in our country and should not be glossed over,” Paul said. “Understandably, no one wants to imagine what happens if Iran develops a nuclear weapon. But if we don’t have at least some of that discussion now, then the danger exists that war is the only remedy.”
The Kentucky senator also said the United States should take lessons learned from the Cold War and apply them to the fight against “radical Islam.” The United States should seek to contain radical Islam the same way it sought to contain the Soviet Union, Paul said.
“Like communism, radical Islam is an ideology with worldwide reach. Containing radical Islam requires a worldwide strategy like containment. It requires counterforce at a series of constantly shifting worldwide points. But counterforce does not necessarily mean large-scale wars with hundreds of thousands of troops nor does it always mean a military action at all.”
Paul also praised Reagan, a conservative icon, but insisted the former president was much more restrained than he is often portrayed.
“Many of today’s neoconservatives want to wrap themselves up in Reagan’s mantle but the truth is that Reagan used clear messages of communism’s evil and clear exposition of America’s strength to contain and ultimately transcend the Soviet Union.”
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by the Heritage Foundation, below: