There is no debate we’re a country in transition. The only debate is what we’re actually transitioning to, and whether we’ll be better or worse as a people for it.
Such transitions challenge trusted traditions to prove they’re still relevant. Old alliances are tested. And folks tend to gravitate to new ideas quickly before they’re fully vetted, mainly because they’ve lost faith in the old ideas.
In the political arena, nowhere will this attempted paradigm shift be more apparent than the foreign policy debate that could very well define the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Recently, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Texas Governor Rick Perry gave us a preview.
In a guest op-ed for The Washington Post, Governor Perry criticized Sen. Paul by name when he said, “It’s disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul, suggest that our nation should ignore what’s happening in Iraq.”
Perry was just getting started. Also in the sharply-worded op-ed he referred to Paul as “curiously blind” to threats from radical Islamists in the Middle East. Perry then rebuked Paul’s claims his foreign policy aligns with Reagan’s: “His analysis is wrong. Paul conveniently omitted Reagan’s long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity.”
Perry may have a point there.
As I wrote for The Washington Times earlier this year, Paul’s father – former Texas Congressman Ron Paul – was often very critical of Reagan’s foreign policy exploits at the time. Ron Paul criticized Reagan for “ignoring world court rulings” against him, said Reagan was “determined to pick a fight” with Khadafi in Libya, urged Reagan to lift the Cuban embargo, and said “the invasion of Grenada is hardly the victory the American people were led to believe.” His many foreign policy disagreements with Reagan helped prompt Ron Paul to leave the Republican Party for a time, and he became the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president back in 1988.
While his son, Rand, may be known for urging non-interventionism in foreign affairs, when it comes to domestic politics he chose to fire right back at Perry.