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Is Rand Paul's current position on Russia radically wrong?

Vladimir Putin just made what perhaps will go down as a historic speech. It included some scathing critiques of US foreign policy. I openly admit, that I think he raises a number of interesting questions and makes some valid critiques.

Only place I could find a translation is here (not yet completed though):

Look at this excerpt for example:

"...what do we hear from our colleagues in Western Europe and North America? They say we are violating norms of international law. Firstly, it’s a good thing that they at least remember that there exists such a thing as international law – better late than never."


Or consider this one:

"Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle “If you are not with us, you are against us.” To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall."

Ouch again...

It actually is a very interesting question, I think, if the Ukraine referendum is in accordance to international law. There seem to be stronger argument, in terms of international law which both sides are referencing, that is was legal. I have not looked into enough... nevertheless, the US has some explaining how they justify other similar cases as "legal".

That brings me to Rand Paul.

First of all, I am certainly not a "Rand Paul hater." I feel, on the whole, that Rand has exceeded expectations in many areas. He has been impressive as a senator. A senator, however, can become very different person if they reach the White House. They can go back on their promises, or for example not have the backbone to stand up to the military industrial complex.

I have written in the past how I feel Rand as president has real risks for the liberty movement. We should not just ignore what appear to be character warning signs. Critiquing Rand's stated position does not mean one has "Rand Paul blinders on". If someone supports Rand without thinking for themselves, then it is they who are perhaps wearing blinders. Furthermore, it would be a shame if libertarians throw out reason just to support the motto "I stand with Rand."

The whole philosophy, as Mises makes clear, is intimately connected with the free exercise of our reason.

You can see a comment I made last year about it here with subject "Maybe Rand Paul in the White House"

Nevertheless, I remain reluctant to be persuaded that Rand in the White House would be wonderful for the liberty movement. My doubts became stronger after reading his Times piece, "Sen. Rand Paul: U.S. Must Take Strong Action Against Putin’s Aggression"

Thus the question, is Rand Paul radically wrong about his current position on Russia? How is Rand Paul's position not entirely contradictory to a fundamental tenet of libertarianism?

I am not giddy to to critique Rand... far from it... however, some of his statements are concerning to say the least.

Consider Rand's opening two quotes in his piece:

"Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a gross violation of that nation’s sovereignty and an affront to the international community. His continuing occupation of Ukraine is completely unacceptable, and Russia’s President should be isolated for his actions."

"It is America’s duty to condemn these actions in no uncertain terms. It is our role as a global leader to be the strongest nation in opposing Russia’s latest aggression."

He ends the piece with:

"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.

But let me be clear: If I were President, I wouldn’t let Vladimir Putin get away with it."

So Rand, the real problem here is that Putin simply does not feel currently fearful or threatened by our president? What other leaders do we need to make sure feels the fear and threat of our president? What exactly would you do, Rand, so that Putin would not "get away with it"? And if your initial plan did not work, then what would you do to ENSURE Russia was punished?

Or, concerning markets:

"I would do everything in my power to aggressively market and export America’s vast natural gas resources to Europe."

What does the office of the president have to do with marketing a product? Certainly they can use their influence to push for free market principles, but that is not solely what Rand's wording suggests. Is it a president's role to do "everything in their power" to market a product? What does that entail?

I am not going to dispute that this piece just increased his chances of a shot at the white house. It certainly might have to a great degree. It perhaps the most political move I have seen Rand take. My concern, however, is just that, i.e., that we have another politician on our hands. His piece sounds very close to exactly the point that both democrats and republicans agree on in terms of foreign policy... the point that is contradictory to the whole Libertarian philosophy.

Some folks will want to mention that this is part of the reality of what it takes to achieve political victory. Well, his father, even with commitment to principle changed the face of politics in this country, and beyond. That was even with him presenting a philosophy which was very much at that time against the status quo... and those same ideas are still spreading. So it's hard for me, for a number of reasons, to take this "political reality" justification too seriously. Besides, talk of war is hardly something ever to take lightly.

If someone has a way of justifying Rand Paul's position regarding Russia, as written in his recent piece, then please comment.

Specifically, however, I am interested in hearing a libertarian justification for his position not merely a political justification, which is not hard to see. Some fundamental aspects of his presentation appear to fly in the face of Misean style libertarianism. For starters, the principle of "non-intervention".

Any thoughts from the community?

After writing this, I just read Ron Paul's piece in USA Today (it has it's own post):

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No, he is not wrong.

Russia won't stop harassing their neighbours until they meet strong response.
Sins of USA are not absolvation for Russia.
If you are against American presence in Iraq, Afganistan, Libya etc. why are you cheering when Russia do the same.
This is not first time lately, but third.
First, there was massacre of Chechnia and annexation of this rebellious republic.
Second, there was invasion in Georgia.
Third: Crimea.
Soon: Eastern Ukraine and many more countries.
Borders are not suggestions. Life of millions is depending on them.
International peace is based on fear - don't forget about it.
If that factor don't work anymore, forget about world as you know today.
Welcome in the hell.
Not because of Russia.
But because war will be profitable again.
Next step? Unknown.
You will miss balance of fear.

Thanks for the post...

especially the link to Putin's speach. A friend of mine in Odessa was telling me about it and is currently trying to find an English translation for me. I can tell her that I have one now.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Yeah, thought it would be

Yeah, seems like it would be easier to find... not sure how accurate it is though... I found that link via the Guardian.

rand paul is not just a

rand paul is not just a traitor to his Father's presidential campaign, but also to freedom. neocon

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good things is my religion. Thomas Paine, Godfather of the American Revolution

How do you know he's a

How do you know he's a traitor? What makes you think he wasn't given the nod by his father?

I don't know about Paul, but I agree with Putin

Check out this quote from the speech:
"As it declared independence and decided to hold a referendum, the Supreme Council of Crimea referred to the United Nations Charter, which speaks of the right of nations to self-determination. Incidentally, I would like to remind you that when Ukraine seceded from the USSR it did exactly the same thing, almost word for word. Ukraine used this right, yet the residents of Crimea are denied it. Why is that?"

Russia has had a much better track record than the USA on allowing sovereign secession cf. "On Foreign Policy" by Murray Rothbard. The US gives lip service to democracy, constitution, and international law whilst doing everything in their power to undermine all three.

Rand has said, "watch how I vote." We'll see.

Yes he is wrong!

Just like he is wrong with most of his views on foreign policy.

He doesn't seem to have ANY problem with sending our men and women to foreign country's to die for the machine.

Screw Rand Paul!

He's more of the problem, not the solution!

Wait...when has he voted in

Wait...when has he voted in favor of sending troops anywhere?

I understand what you're saying about his comments

I did not like the "I wouldn't let him get away with it" comment either. But, in his defense, maybe he just meant that he would give Putin a very stern talking to over the phone ;) Putin is a slimeball. He is more socialist than Obama and Bush combined. So, I can see where Rand would want to take advantage of the situation and pander to the Republican base.


Rand Paul might not be for Liberty?

Based on the craftiness of this post, I'd say you were controlled opposition. Who's your guy Ted Cruze? Gary Johnson? Give me a break. Rand is the best out there and has some momentum. Folks don't turn on ourselves again. Join together or die divided in pieces. Don't be buffaloed.

He would be a good transition.

Let's be real. We Libertarians are growing, but not yet strong enough to win a presidency. Rand has a shot, should he decide to. He's by far the most Liberty minded candidate of the (R) bunch. I think that at the very least he could jump-start Libertarian-ism into the mainstream, creating a dialog that includes Libertarians along with the other two 'household name' parties. Then, so much more will be possible!

The time is going to come soon when we ALL will need to back a candidate, and fighting among ourselves only weakens our cause. Patience is needed. Remember, in order to go from red to yellow you'll need to be orange a little while. (but we certainly will keep pushing to make that period as short as possible)


Your saying I am "controlled

Your saying I am "controlled opposition" simply based on the "craftiness", as you call it, of my post? Give ME a break.

You can review my previous posts, I can't recall ever even mentioning Gary Johnson who I happen to think also has an inconsistent position in regards to abortion.

I can only remember mentioning Ted Cruz one time in the context of the question, whether we can conclude he would be good as a president, since after all, "he does sign his name following "In Liberty"..

Besides, a large gist of the post is a critique of statements Rand made regarding his foreign policy position. It is not hard to find plenty of statements which Ted Cruz has stated which is much more extreme than the very position I am critiquing.

The question which you have not even attempted to answer is, how can Rand's statement regarding Russia be justified from a Misean model of libertarianism.

By the way, wether or not his position is inconsistent here is a separate question from whether or not to support him. As his dad says, "He is the most libertarian person in the senate." I specifically mention that, as a senator, he has "exceeded expectations".

The more fundamental question is, what is your understanding of libertarianism? Perhaps you have a different conception? In your view, is the principle of "non-intervention" not necessarily a central principle in the libertarian philosophy?

My primary concern, as I have written a number of times about, is a neo-con hijacking of the liberty movement. Your stance here can easily lead to what, personally, I am concerned about.

Though, to be sure, I certainly am not alone with this concern. There are plenty of articles written, if you care to read them, about this current hijacking attempt on the Ron Paul Institute website under "Neocon Watch".

For example, this is a good one:

You don't even address the question of inconsistency then you jump to: "Join together or die divided in pieces." That sounds like something Huckabee would say. Then you end with "Don't be buffaloed". Are you suggesting that the ideas we "join together" behind are not really all that relevant and do not have real consequences? That stance seems very similar to a current status-quo paradigm which the libertarian movement is up against.

First of all its Non-Aggression not Non-Intervention.

I'm not a libertarian. I'm a Juris Naturalist. I believe in natural Law, or scientific Law. 1. Do all you agree to do. 2. Don't encroach upon other persons or their property. Intervention and force is required when you are defending the laws of liberty if you want to keep it. http://www.dailypaul.com/314846/here-are-rands-so-called-san...


He wouldn't have to be a very good president to be the best president we have ever had.

I have been what some might

I have been what some might call a Rand apologist from the beginning. I have to concede however, this column was shocking. There is enough mainstream conservative skepticism for US and EU actions in the Ukraine to provide cover for a politically ambitious libertarian. I haven't abandoned Rand, but damn. I just don't see a big political payoff for this one. Iran? Political grist for the mill. North Korea. Same thing. Empty rhetoric for political gain means nothing when geopolitical realities prevail. It doesn't bother me to hear Rand say Iran should not have nukes. I'm no interventionist, but they probably shouldn't. But this... What the hell! This is down right dangerous.

I applauded...

...when Rand called out the neo-cons as the true isolationists just a couple months ago...


So I guess that's what made me scratch my head the most, when he said that we should isolate Putin to punish him.

On the other hand, I do recall also being bothered a bit by his manner of chastising Putin on the topic of American 'exceptionalism', around the height of tensions in Syria...


I thought Putin had some great points at the time, regarding how decaying morality leads to corruption in nations, and the importance of faith institutions for inspiring goodness in the people (he sounded like George Washington almost in that op-ed). It seemed a bit odd to me that Rand responded as brusquely as he did.

Still, I bet Rand would be a much better partner for peacemaking, once in office than anyone we've had in a long time. He just needs to be careful he doesn't become seduced by the Ring of Power, to think that he can really use it for good, when it is ultimately corrupting.

I agree

with your sentiments. I generally like Rand but I don't like that he supports McConnell?

And regarding this recent affair in Ukraine, Rand does not point out that the US state dept, and the cia funded and helped to organize the overthrow of an elected government just like in Egypt and Syria...and we are working in Yemen, Pakistan and Iran to do the same. It is meddling.

And it is foolish to think Russia is going to allow this type of encroachment. Seems Rand is following the company line on this one. Ron Paul is on it though.

Rand supported McConnell over

Rand supported McConnell over the democrat before the Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin decided to run. Hers what Matt says about the endorsement.

"Rand made this decision before I was in the race."


It sure would look bad if Rand changed his mind now wouldn't it. Those who say Rand should not have endorsed anyone are plain wrong...in his own state he should definitely give an endorsement.

A thoughtful post...

…with fair concerns expressed, but you left out these telling Rand quotes from the same piece, statements which no other prominent, serious Democrat or Republican presidential contender has uttered in decades:

"This does not and should not require military action."

"The problem with the foreign policies of both Democratic and Republican administrations is that they never give a second thought to how America can afford what they implement."

"America is a world leader, but we should not be its policeman or ATM."

"At the end of the day, I still agree with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen — the greatest threat to America’s security is our national debt."

"We weaken our security and defenses when we print money out of thin air or borrow from other countries to allegedly support our own."

"Like Dwight Eisenhower, I believe the U.S. can actually be stronger by doing less."

I can enthusiastically support a presidential candidate who makes such statements.

True, he makes some

True, he makes some statements in that piece which I also can happily support. However, I think we should resist letting some statements which we like the sound of ring much louder in our ear than others which we like less.

I am sure, in that sense, some of the natural gas companies could likewise enthusiastically support a president that states, " I would do everything in my power to aggressively market and export America’s vast natural gas resources to Europe."

Instead we must take his position as a whole into account. Inconsistencies, should be critiqued not ignored simply for the sake of "unity".

Leaving Rand aside for a moment, we should not forget that their is a battle of ideas going on... and a central question is what our philosophy of government ought to be. In that regard, we should also not forget that one of the major strengths of the libertarian philosophy is in its high degree of consistency. In terms of mainstream competitors, it is perhaps unique in that way.

Rand, it seems clear, is attempting to walk a fine line. Like I said, it is perhaps the most political move I have personally seen Rand make. I imagine he is doing what he thinks is best. That is his own choice.

As far as I am aware, he has actually never claimed to be strictly "libertarian" anyhow. He actually might be less libertarian or more, right now it seems hard to say. Though, it certainly is true that he is currently the most libertarian senator, like Ron said.

So in making the post I am not suggesting that his seemingly inconsistent position here (in relation to the libertarian principle of "non-intervention") necessarily means he should not be supported. Not by any means. That decision is a judgement call that each person must make for themselves. Though if we believe that ideas (both true as well as false) do indeed have real consequences, we should not simply ignore an inconsistent position of those we sincerely want to support. Otherwise, everything can easily get lost in a morass.

I have no problem with you...

…calling Rand on any "inconsistencies". I encourage it.

But you left out the context - that the essay was riddled with powerful libertarian statements. The "inconsistencies" were obviously included to appease the establishment.

Ron also pulled his punches in '08 and '12.

If Rand dialed up the 'libertarian-rhetoric' meter to a 10, he'd be out of the picture. I'm more than ok with him exhibiting an 7.5 (with nearly everyone else in Washington at a 2) in return for being taken seriously.

It's *our* job to dial up a 10. For him to do so all day and night would be self-defeating.

another way to view Rand's editorial


"It may be a hundred years before a computer beats humans at Go - maybe even longer. If a reasonably intelligent person learned to play Go, in a few months he could beat all existing computer programs." - Piet Hut

LOL. I didn't even watch it

LOL. I didn't even watch it and I know what it is. I remember it like yesterday. Fabulous.

Ron Paul's stance

that Crimea is no business of the USA is correct.

Rand Paul shows us once again that on matters of foreign policy he is a neoconservative.

Speaking of Ron, he made front page 3rd billing on Politico

Concerning Crimea:

The article fails to point out that Ron's position is also CLOSEST to Rand, since Rand has the most moderate position vis-a-vis Russia in the Senate and House.

The number 1 reason nothing about Russia will pass the house is Darrel Issa whipping members into a frenzy over the IRS scandal. Good on Issa again, I'm starting to like the guy.

Despite scumbag Neo-Con Eric Cantor trying to push something through.

Obama should teach Putin how to be a real Man

Well, who is the strongest nation in the world and who can do whatever she wants to do: clearly not the impoverished Russia but our great country America! So, how it is possible that they (the Russians) just went ahead and annexed Crimea and maybe the whole Ukraine (next week)? Are we here to stand and just watch? Who is the virtuoso political player in the world - Putin? Our president is also a Man and WE definitely CAN DO IT! Instead of standing and complaining or playing with some funny "sanctions" on few individual, our best strategy is to show to Putin the full power of our empire - yes, we can do it too! Our president should immediately proceed to implement an imminent annexation of Canada (clearly Mexico is out of question!). Show those Russians how to do it right! I guess, we will need to make some renaming too - Quebec should just be the State of North Louisiana and British Columbia ... well maybe call it Washington's Columbia. I also have mixed feelings about Regina - anybody has a good idea how we should call it? I am sure that this is the best (and the safest economically) solution to the present political crises that will reinstall our greatness and glory for the next 1000 years. :D

(Please do not take it seriously - or maybe you should)

The basic problem is that one believes that everything is real, and thus everything is treated as such.
---Kalu Rinpoche

freaking funny. =)

freaking funny. =)

Hes not a neo con, hes a smart politician...

I do not have Rand "blinds on", actually I always find his enemies in the liberty movement to have "purity blinds on" in that its either 100% or nothing at all, yet you have to balance out good vs bad and you will see that it is MUCH better to be elected as long as you are well over 80% good.

Guys, the bottom line is that Ron Paul had no chance in hell at winning because America, the brainwashed and gluttonus populace, was not ready for him. However, Rand is a master politiciant. So gifted in fact that its obviously an almost freakish talent, like an NFL probowler is freakishly talented. But if you look at the big picture and then go to all the details from his upbrining all the way until now, I can make a DAMN solid argument as to why the evidence points to Rand having his dad's principles, but is politically maneuvering the GOP into the Paul image. More evidence than him just being a converted neocon (yet neocons LITERALLY loathe and hate him more than democrats (as long as they are Hillary/Pelosi type and not the true believers like Kucinich). I really HATED Rand after Iran sanctions and the Romney thing, but when my emotions calmed for intellect to kick in, I realized he is a God damn genius. Guys, had he not endoresed Romney he would have NO SHOT at the nomination. Stop being stubborn mules. We cant win without political victory and you cant have political victory without playing the game.

Lastly, although this is really sickenning to ready, at the end of the day, the Crimea issue is almost a deal killer. THere is political concensus, unfortunately, that Russia is the enemy and Crimea is worth a fight. Im sorry, but it is what it is and for him to do what his dads doing would literally blow the AMAZING gains he made of being the top of the heap. Rand had to make tough call, but I reluctantly support it, because before you jackasses call him a neo con, he single handedly caught and blocked Rubios SECRET attempt (during his early senate career) to add worthless (not literally, but as in that they are not a benefit to be allied with) Geogria into the NATO, therefore all but guarantee a devastating war with Russia and god bless Rand for saving us from disaster. Of course Ron would do the same, but did Ron ACTUALLY quite possibly save the entire country and even perhaps world if Rubios careless actions caused a nuclear halocause??? Give the man a God damn break.

last thing, is that I fully support Ron's positions, but I admit today, for the first time EVER (has a neocon position stand up in debate) Ive read alot of solid arguments why Russia is actually the bad guy in this. It just sucks that we have no moral high ground to call him out, due to our empire moves

Rand 2016

Ron Paul 2012

Ron Paul's stance

that Crimea is no business of the USA is correct.

Rand Paul shows us once again that on matters of foreign policy he is a neoconservative.


: very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary

: very basic and important

: having extreme political or social views that are not shared by most people

If it is the third meaning, yes.