WaPo Columnist: Rand Paul ‘Steering’ Trump Towards America First Foreign Policy

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin wrote an opinion piece on Thursday, suggesting that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) continues to steer President Donald Trump towards an America First foreign policy.

Amidst news of Trump’s planned withdrawals of American troops in Syria and Afghanistan, Rogin wrote that “Trump is listening more than ever” to Paul, who is “quietly steering” American foreign policy towards the president’s proposed America First policy.

Since his presidential campaign began, Trump has called for less nation-building, less foreign military intervention, and more diplomacy, while focusing on rebuilding America.

This piece echoes the sentiment from a Politico piece that said Trump has connected with Paul, especially on foreign policy, at a “gut level.”

Rogin said that many American officials with inside knowledge of Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria suggested that Paul had an “outsize influence” on his recent foreign policy decisions.

Sen. Paul told CNN last week that he talked to the president about Syria and said he was “very proud of the president.” On December 23, Trump quoted the Kentucky conservative, saying, “It should not be the job of America to replace regimes around the world. … The generals still don’t get the mistake.”

More so, President Trump praised noninterventionism: “America shouldn’t be doing the fighting for every nation on Earth [and] not being reimbursed. We’re no longer the suckers, folks.”

Countering the president’s foreign policy decision, Rogin contended that most Americans and most Republicans favor a “robust” American foreign policy that calls for “American leadership,” not “American retreat,” to our presence in the Middle East.

Rogin then concluded, suggesting that Sen. Paul’s noninterventionist foreign policy vision “is not only dangerous for our national security but bad politics as well.”

Despite Rogin’s claim that Paul’s foreign policy serves as “bad politics,” Trump’s decision to withdraw from both Afghanistan and Syria has earned him bipartisan accolades and has made headwinds in Congress.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a populist Democrat, wrote an opinion piece for the Post last week stating that Democrats should applaud, not chastise, Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan.

Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) cheered President Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria in a tweet last week, saying:

I fully support ’s decision to bring our troops home from Syria. Some have claimed the AUMF against Al Quaeda in Afghanistan allows troops to fight ISIS in Syria. But no AUMF authorizes troops to occupy Syria to oppose Assad and wage a proxy war against Russia.

Further, the Senate passed a War Powers resolution in December that called for the end of American assistance to Saudi Arabi’s war in Yemen. A bipartisan coalition consisting of Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) led the charge for the resolution. The House could not vote on the same resolution because lame-duck Speaker Paul Ryan attached a rule to the House Farm bill preventing a vote on the Yemen resolution.

Congressman Khanna said that American politicians should continue crossing partisan battle lines to push for a foreign policy of “greater restraint.”

Khanna wrote:

I am not pollyannaish about the deep partisan battles that divide us. But when it comes to ensuring that America remains the global leader, with all that implies for freedom and democracy, let us take inspiration from Adams and find common ground in a foreign policy of greater restraint, one that would entail responsibly extricating ourselves from bad wars.

Khanna concluded, “Let us focus on developing our capabilities and talents here at home to be a model for the world.”


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