Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Monday criticized his fellow Republican colleagues for purporting to espouse the values of President Ronald Reagan in advocating for a more muscular and militaristic approach to the crisis in Ukraine.
Some Republicans like Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have in recent days lashed out at President Obama’s response to Russia’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine claiming that he hasn’t properly adhered to some kind of Reaganesque character of American strength. McCain even went so far as to call it “tragic” that it looks like there’s no U.S. military option in Ukraine.
In an op-ed on the right-wing website Breihtbart.com, Paul pushed back, saying that while Reagan stood up to communism and believed in strong national defense, he also “believed in diplomacy and demonstrated a reasoned approach to our nuclear negotiations with the Soviets.”
“Without a clearly defined mission, exit strategy or acceptable rationale for risking soldiers lives, Reagan possessed the leadership to reassess and readjust,” Paul said. “Today, we forget that some of the Republican hawks of his time criticized Reagan harshly for this too, again, calling him an appeaser.”
The Kentucky Republican also noted that the most the United States could do in response to Russia’s Crimea invasion is enact tough sanctions and other economic pressures. “Yet, some politicians have used this time to beat their chest,” Paul said. “What we don’t need right now is politicians who have never seen war talking tough for the sake of their political careers.”
Paul — who won the presidential straw poll at CPAC last weekend — has been in what appears to be a habitual battle with other Republicans — including McCain — over the direction the party will go on foreign policy. The intra-party spat has at times been so tense that one top House Republican once linked Paul to Nazi appeasers.
So what would a President Rand Paul have done in response to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine? Drill, baby, drill. “I would do something differently from the president,” Paul said on Sunday. “I would immediately get every obstacle out of the way for our export of oil and gas, and I would begin drilling in every possible conceivable place within our territories in order to have production we can supply Europe with if it’s interrupted from Ukraine.”
Paul also said recently that the U.S. should let Ukraine go bankrupt. “If you go through 10 years of austerity that’s enforced by the West, then it just leads to unhappiness and all that. Maybe you’re better off having the swiftness of bankruptcy and restarting,” he said. (President Obama and much of the U.S. Congress don’t think that’s such a good idea.)
Paul did some chest thumping of his own in a separate op-ed in Time Magazine published on Sunday. “The real problem is that Russia’s President is not currently fearful or threatened in any way by America’s President, despite his country’s blatant aggression,” he said. “But let me be clear: If I were President, I wouldn’t let Vladimir Putin get away with it.”