Shadow Government

10 Friendly Questions for Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has made official his desire to be Commander-in-Chief. The media has already had a field day exploring the ways his foreign policy and national security views do or do not diverge from the Republican consensus. Here at Shadow Government, we’re curious about that, too. So we polled our bench and compiled ...

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has made official his desire to be Commander-in-Chief. The media has already had a field day exploring the ways his foreign policy and national security views do or do not diverge from the Republican consensus.

Here at Shadow Government, we’re curious about that, too. So we polled our bench and compiled a list of questions, the answering of which should help candidate Paul resolve the matter of where he stands in comparison to the rest of the Republican party.

These are not gotcha questions and, truth be told, every Republican candidate will need good answers to them. Sen. Paul could lead the pack in answering them and stimulating a fruitful conversation on our side of the aisle in preparation for the crucial cross-aisle debate.

1. How would you vote if the Senate attempted to override a presidential veto of legislation blocking the Iran deal? If the deal is done, what would you do if you took office in 2017? If the deal proves inadequate, what will you do to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?

2. What specifically would you do to stop China from grabbing territory in maritime Asia? How would you respond to China if it tried to seize territory by force? How would you use our Navy to make sure Asia’s trade routes are kept open now that China’s Pacific force is becoming larger than ours?

3. Given your advocacy of reducing America’s commitments abroad and refraining from interventions, we presume you are in favor of the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. In your view, how will the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan keep Americans safe from al Qaeda? How will it contribute to stability in South Asia?

4. The last six years have seen the proliferation of jihadist groups across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. How can the United States formulate an effective strategy to work against such groups and protect itself and its allies within the constraints you have called for, including a smaller military footprint abroad, fewer defense commitments, and fewer “interventions” abroad? Or do you believe the United States does not need to oppose jihadist groups?

5. You have consistently argued against “interventionism.” What do you mean? Since there is a broad variety of tools of foreign policy that can be employed in diverse circumstances, how can that be boiled down to a choice of “less” versus “more”? Do you favor less diplomacy in East Asia and less trade in Latin America?

6. What is your view of the contemporary security environment? Do you think the world is stable, the United States is safe, and we live in an era of peace and prosperity? If so, how do you account for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the rise of the Islamic State, and the growing arms race in East Asia? If you think the world is unstable, the United States is not safe, and we live in dangerous times, why do you advocate for reducing America’s military involvement abroad?

7. How will you respond to Russia’s territorial aggression?

8. Which specific existing defense commitments should the United States terminate?

9. How do you plan to get cooperation from other countries for your foreign policies?

10. If the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is approved in the Obama administration, what criteria would you use to determine when you would push for its approval as president?

 Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images

Shadow Government is a blog about U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration, written by experienced policy makers from the loyal opposition and curated by Peter D. Feaver and William Inboden.

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