I completely disagree with the OP, not on his principles, but on his analysis. What I hear from Rand Paul is that he does not believe that our killing of Awlaki was acceptable. But he can not step onto that Senate floor and convince his colleagues to just run over to his side.
It is a classic example of a Socratic dialogue, Sen. Paul is working to win one small battle, and if he can do that then it becomes possible to take more ground, and more ground... If he got up there and stated flat out that we should not use drone strikes even oversees, then quite apart from getting even less support from his colleagues he would have most of the American public shaking their heads an ignoring him. Instead, he carved out a limited and very clear position that he knows will have the support of most Americans.
And if you listen to his words, you will see that on scenarios outside of those boundaries, he did not state a position but rather said that those are for a different discussion. This is the shrewd and thoughtful approach.
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