Rand Paul’s Foreign Policy: Wind Down Afghanistan, Send Professors – Not Bombs – To Iran

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is charting a new conservative foreign policy course.

Today, Rand Paul delivered a speech titled “A Conservative Constitutional Foreign Policy,” at Johns Hopkins University, where he outlined his own unique approach to the foreign policy issues that the United States faces.

Paul has distinguished himself among many Senate Republicans by actually advocating for a reduced military presence overseas and a downsized military budget.

At the speech, in response to a question from ThinkProgress about ending the Afghan war, Paul said he hopes the death of former Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden would lead to the “winding down” of the Afghan war:

TP: Recently, there was a Washington Post poll put out that said 73 percent of Americans wanted to see a substantial withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan this summer. There was also a letter put out by 12 senators to Obama calling on him to make those substaintial reductions. Do you think President Obama should start making major reductions to our troop size this summer?

PAUL: I’d like to introduce President Obama to candidate Obama, if we can get him to read some of what he ran on, things might change dramatically. […] I would like to see a full blown debate in Congress and in the country about what is our presence in Afghanistan vital to our national security interest? […] I think after ten years there needs to be much, much more and there needs to be a winding down of the war. I would hope the death of Bin Laden would accelerate that.

Also, in response to a question about what U.S. policy should be towards Iran, the senator said most Iranians actually are fond of the United States and that he would rather conduct cultural diplomacy with Iran — like, for example, sending Johns Hopkins University professors there — instead of going to war:

PAUL: In my mind, as a member of Congress, I’m reluctant to go to war. […] I’d much rather send some of your professors around the world than I would our soldiers, if at all possible. Even in Iran, does anybody want to go to Iran? Iran has a large undercurrent of people who like the West. They like our music, our culture, our literature, and so I think we can influence people in those ways. I’d rather do that than go to war with Iran. That doesn’t mean we never go to war, but we should be reluctant.

Watch it:

Paul also spent much of the event critiquing the military intervention in Libya, criticizing it for not being explicitly authorized by Congress.