Jim Antle warned last week that Paul may be taking a big political risk by backing normalization with Cuba:
As the primaries approach, Paul is increasingly positioning himself as someone willing to tell his fellow Republicans things they don’t want to hear.
I would qualify this a little bit. There are many Republicans that don’t want to hear what Paul is telling them, but for the most part they were not likely to listen to anything he had to say in the first place. On Cuba, Republicans are far from monolithic in their policy views, and there is considerable support within the party for the position that Paul has taken. The risk that Paul is taking by opposing the Cuba hawks is relatively small when we consider that anyone Paul alienated with this move was already determined to be against him anyway. Republican hawks that reject normalization with Cuba are also very likely to despise the realist tradition with which Paul is trying to identify himself, so there’s no point in avoiding fights with them.
As Antle says, it is necessary to have some common ground in order for persuasion to be possible, and there isn’t any between Paul and the hawks that are denouncing him on this and other issues. Paul was never going to reach the people in his party committed to hard-line, dead-ender policies, and he would have been wasting his time to try. By challenging the party’s hard-liners on this issue, he gives his would-be supporters some encouragement and demonstrates that he is prepared to take on hard-liners on other foreign policy issues beyond the usual disagreements over military action. Because the hard-liners have no credible arguments in this case, he can prevail fairly easily in a policy debate that also reminds everyone how bankrupt the hard-liners’ worldview is.