While much of America is distracted by midterm elections, key players are already jockeying for position leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
Left of center, the obvious choice is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - although a strong case could be made that she is simply a lightning rod for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
On the right, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is an early favorite. His recent “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”-esque filibuster rallied both libertarians and conservatives behind him - the former afraid that he would cater too much to the “neo-con” base, the latter wary that a Paul presidential platform would look too similar to a Congressman Ron Paul presidential platform, especially in regards to foreign policy.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul. AP Photo/Rex C. Curry
And after weeks of unrest in Iraq, Paul’s foreign policy is certainly coming to the forefront.
Just recently on "Meet the Press," host David Gregory questioned the Kentucky senator regarding American involvement in Iraq and recent comments made by former Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney has made no secret of the fact that he believes further military action in Iraq is necessary.
Stopping just short of laying responsibility at Cheney’s feet, Paul pointed a finger at the United States – particularly those who had supported the second Iraq war – and insinuated that the fallout led to a strengthened Iran. This bizarre move has left many wondering if it points to a foreign policy that is strikingly similar to his father’s or if it simply reflects an attempt to appeal to moderates in the lead-up to 2016’s presidential race.
TheBlaze’s Dana Loesch even mentioned on the radio that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) seems to have the Constitutional conservative demographic all but sewn up, so in order to be marketable as an alternative, Paul has to appeal to the more moderate side of the Republican Party.
If that is indeed the case, a host of questions come to mind. First, has he made the move too early? Will he be the next Republican to earn the dubious moniker “electable”? Will the hard-right conservative base forgive their one-time filibustering hero for throwing shade on the current administration?
Iraqi Turkmen pose with their weapons as they ready to fight against militants led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on June 21, 2014, in the Iraqi village of Bashir, 15 kilometers south of the city of Kirkuk. Iraqi security forces on Saturday announced they were holding their own in several areas north of Baghdad, but officials said insurgents led by ISIL seized one of three official border crossings with Syria. MARWAN IBRAHIM MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images
But perhaps the larger questions are about the foreign policy that seems to be slowly taking shape.
The reality is that non-intervention - though advocated by George Washington - is relatively impractical in a world where trade is global and military units can deploy to any location on earth in hours rather than days or even weeks.
Iraq is an interesting case study on that point. If we accept that Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was a legitimate reason for an American response, then United States involvement was warranted. If we accept the legitimacy of the ceasefire treaty at the end of the first Gulf War, then the ball was dropped long before Cheney or President Barack Obama had it.
What people tend to forget when speaking out against American involvement in a second Iraq war is that Saddam Hussein violated the terms of multiple United Nations Resolutions almost daily by firing at American planes and going around sanctions placed against Iraq. They fixate on the weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist (only now it seems they did exist and have fallen into the worst hands possible), but they refuse to acknowledge that the possibility of the existence of WMDs was only one of a litany of reasons that war was necessary.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks on Fox News Sunday in Washington. (AP Photo/Fox News Sunday, Fred Watkins)
So if Paul would like to point fingers, perhaps he should start with the George H. W. Bush Administration for failing to finish what it started. He should then look to former President Bill Clinton for an explanation as to why he allowed Hussein to repeatedly violate the terms of the ceasefire without consequence. And he should certainly question the rules of engagement that were implemented after the second Iraq war began, leaving our troops unable to offer a decisive end to the war once if had begun.
Virginia Kruta holds a dual BS in Political Science and History from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, and writes from her home in the People's Republic of Illinois. Find her on Twitter @VAKruta or reach her by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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