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Paul and Netanyahu’s Speech

Rand Paul makes another unforced error:

Hailing from the more libertarian wing of the GOP’s foreign policy plank, Paul has sometimes angered conservatives by supporting a less stringent approach than traditional hawks like Graham. But he was supportive of Netanyahu’s speech.

“He’s always welcome,” Paul said.

Maybe Sen. Paul thinks he is being diplomatic by saying this, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense for him to endorse Boehner’s maneuver. Paul has previously argued that diplomacy should be given a chance in the talks with Iran, and most recently he has been working on a bill with Barbara Boxer that offers what they call a more “moderate” alternative to the Kirk-Menendez new sanctions legislation. So it makes no sense to approve of an invitation extended to a foreign leader when the sole purpose of that invitation is to promote the cause of additional sanctions on Iran with the obvious goal of sabotaging the negotiations. Netanyahu has been invited in large part to promote the cause of a confrontational Iran policy that Paul professes to oppose. Why would Paul want to welcome that?

I know that Paul thinks he can thread the needle of placating “pro-Israel” hawks without antagonizing the core supporters he expects to have in 2016, but I suspect that he is wrong about this. He will never be able to satisfy the “pro-Israel” hawks, since they decided long ago that he was not one of them. The more that he equivocates and temporizes on these issues, he is running the risk of losing a lot of the supporters that might have otherwise backed him. More important, he isn’t fully seizing the opportunity to challenge his party as it pursues a truly foolish and dangerous course on Iran.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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