Home/Daniel Larison/Rand Paul and Being “Too Good for the World”

Rand Paul and Being “Too Good for the World”

Jennifer Rubin berates Rand Paul on foreign policy and national security:

It is far from clear that his national security line, farther to the left than the president’s, is going to sell well among Republican primary voters. Obama thinks the world is too good for us, while Rand Paul thinks we’re too good for the world [bold mine-DL]. But the end result is the same — disarming, dropping anti-terrorism tactics, disregarding human rights, retrenchment.

It’s neither new nor interesting that Rubin dislikes Sen. Paul’s ideas on national security and foreign policy, but I would like to say a few things about the idea that “Paul thinks we’re too good for the world.” I doubt that Sen. Paul believes this, but it is a common accusation against anyone on the right skeptical of foreign wars and seemingly endless overseas commitments. The idea is that conservative opponents of too many foreign entanglements believe that America will be corrupted by its involvement in the affairs of other nations because of some idealistic conceit that “we” are free from the corruptions of the rest of the world.

The problem with this is that we don’t think that America is “too good for the world,” but that we understand that no nation is capable of exercising so much power without abusing that power in its dealings with other nations and in the government’s relationship with our own people. Conservative critics of an activist foreign policy are wary of concentration of power, no matter what its ostensible purpose, because they assume that human fallibility and weakness make any great concentration of power an invitation to excess and abuse. Implicit in the idea that the U.S. should be an example to the world is that we don’t believe we are “too good for the world.” We also don’t assume that it is our proper role to compel other nations to follow our example or force them to submit to our demands.

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.

leave a comment

Latest Articles