On the 102nd birthday of Ronald Reagan, the junior senator from Kentucky visited the conservative bastion of the Heritage Foundation to propose a reconciled foreign policy for the United States.
???I???m a realist, not a neoconservative, nor an isolationist,??? Republican Sen. Rand Paul said from the podium to a crowd of more than 200 in the seventh-floor auditorium.
In his latest move to position for a 2016 presidential run, Paul extended a reconciliation to neoconservatives listening to his speech. Though he had blanched at Sen. John McCain???s (R-Ariz.) 2008 argument that the United States ought to remain in Iraq for 100 years, the call does capture some truth, he said.
That truth: ???That the West is in for a long, irregular confrontation, not with terrorism, which is simply a tactic, but with radical Islam.???
In navigating this confrontation, Paul reiterated his position of Congressional prerogative over war-making, repeatedly citing the founding fathers??? admonishments against presidentialism.
Paul has previously been critical of President Barack Obama???s use of force abroad, as in the limited war in Libya in 2011, for which he relied on international discretion and did not seek Congressional approval, though it is required by the Constitution.
At Heritage, Paul took another stab at the Armed Forces??? current commander in chief in order to hoist up Reagan???s foreign policy as a precedent to be followed: ???Even President Obama wants to compare himself to Reagan,??? he said.
In discussing Reagan???s record, Paul tempered his earlier reconsideration of neoconservatives, who he said want to wrap themselves up in Reagan???s mantle.
But Reagan aided and abetted the triumph of capitalism over socialism not by the liberation of captive people, but by a combination of don???t-mess-with-us language and diplomacy, Paul said.
As the son of former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the senator has at times ridden the wave of his father???s loyal libertarian following, but on multiple occasions since the 2012 presidential election he has distanced himself from that base as well.
The younger Paul???s endorsement of now-defeated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for instance, carved a divide in Internet-based libertarian activism. Paul simultaneously anticipated and egged on a deluge of negative responses to the endorsement when he questioned his father???s legion of young followers during an interview with Fox News???s Sean Hannity.
At Heritage, Paul said he agrees with libertarians that occupation fans the flames of radical Islam, but he does not agree that when disengaged the trend will disappear peacefully.
???Radical Islam is no fleeting fad but rather a relentless force,??? he said.
Paul recently took an even sharper right turn when he told Breitbart News that his hypothetical response as president to an attack on Israel would be to announce that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States.
Though neither Paul nor his supporters have made any official announcements, the official Rand Paul 2016 Facebook Page currently boasts 26,700 fans and has existed since April 2011.