Has Rand Paul Gone Neocon on the Ukraine?

By:  Jack Kenny
Has Rand Paul Gone Neocon on the Ukraine?

Has Rand Paul gone "Neocon Lite" over Russia's invasion of Ukraine? Paul, who has been widely regarded as a non-interventionist like his father, 12-term congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, is sounding the alarm over the Ukraine turmoil as though it were right on America's doorstep.

Condemning "Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine" as a "gross violation of that nation's sovereignty and an affront to the international community," the Republican junior senator from Kentucky and potential candidate for his party's 2016 presidential nomination wrote in an op-ed article for Time magazine that the United States should respond with punitive sanctions to ensure that the Russian president is "isolated for his actions."

Paul did point out clearly that no one is calling for a military confrontation with the Russians, and some of what he recommends makes sense for the United States economically, regardless of what Putin has done or may yet do. He calls, for example, for immediate construction of the Keystone pipeline and says we should "aggressively market and export America's vast natural gas resources to Europe." He favors the removal of "every obstacle or current ban blocking the export of American oil and gas to Europe" and the lifting of restrictions on development of new oil and gas supplies to increase the amount of energy available in the United States while also supplying Europe with oil if the supply from the Ukraine is interrupted.

But he also advocates policies that would basically ensure that the supply is interrupted. "It is important," Paul wrote, "that Russia become economically isolated until all its forces are removed from Crimea and Putin pledges to act in accordance with the international standards of behavior that respect the rights of free people everywhere." Economic sanctions and visa bans "should be imposed and enforced without delay," wrote Paul. "We should also suspend American loans and aid to Ukraine because currently these could have the counterproductive effect of rewarding Russia. Ukraine owes so much money to Russia that America would essentially be borrowing from China to give to Russia."

That is sound reasoning, but it begs the question of why the United States, at the expense of its own taxpaying people, should be lending money to Ukraine or any other country, regardless of what Russia does. If Senator Paul likes the idea of suspending loans in order to punish a country for an "affront to the international community," then perhaps he favors making such loans in order to have the leverage that suspending them can bring. If so, he differs from the foreign policy of his father, who was against all international loans or economic foreign aid.

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Photo of Rand Paul: AP Images

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