Jindal vs. Paul on Foreign Policy: What if They’re Both Right?

Senator Rand Paul and Governor Bobby Jindal thought they were arguing starkly different views on foreign policy. But the two 2016 GOP presidential candidates were really making one half of the same argument.

The argument began when Paul appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this week and answered a question about critics of his foreign policy.


A guy that works very closely with John McCain that is going to be running against you, we think, he’s going to be a heat-seeking [missile against Rand] the entire campaign. Lindsey Graham, Lindsey Graham would say, ISIS exists because of people like Rand Paul who said let’s not go into Syria, what do you say to that?

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I would say it’s exactly the opposite. ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS. These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS’ job even easier. They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because the same hawks in my party loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya, they just wanted more of it.

But Libya is a failed state and a disaster, Iraq really is a failed state or a vassal state now of Iran, so everything they’ve talked about in foreign policy they’ve been wrong about for 20 years and yet they somehow have the gall to keeping saying and pointing fingers otherwise.


Paul’s answer prompted this blistering response from Governor Jindal:

This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief. We have men and women in the military that are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position.

It’s one thing for Senator Paul to take an outlandish position as a Senator at Washington cocktail parties, but being Commander-in-Chief is an entirely different job. We should all be clear that evil and Radical Islam are at fault for the rise of ISIS, and people like President Obama and Hillary Clinton exacerbate it.

American weakness, not American strength, emboldens our enemies. Senator Paul’s illogical argument clouds a situation that should provide pure moral clarity. Islam has a problem. ISIS is its current manifestation. And the next President’s job is to have the discipline and strength to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth. It has become impossible to imagine a President Paul defeating radical Islam and it’s time for the rest of us to say it.

The amplitude of the rhetoric aside, history has proven there is merit to what both Paul and Jindal are saying.

In fact, if you take the conclusion Paul draws and precede it with the premise of Jindal’s view, you come up with what I believe is the prudent, morally-consistent, and pro-American foreign policy we have been searching for in a post-9/11 world. It also happens to be what a vast majority of Americans outside the beltway believe as well.

A false choice on the foreign policy debate has been put forward: either put our heads in the sand (literally) and pretend evil doesn’t exist in the world, or sign up to become the world’s mall cop.

Inside the 202 and 212 area codes, a false choice on the foreign policy debate has been put forward: either put our heads in the sand (literally) and pretend evil doesn’t exist in the world, or sign up to become the world’s mall cop.

But those extremes are child-like thinking which lack adult discernment. Not to mention it ranges from naïve at best, to reckless at worst, to project your cultural assumptions upon your adversary.

In radical Islam we are not dealing with a previously Western country gone rogue because of a tyrannical regime, like what happened in Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany.

With Islam you are dealing with a culture which predates our own substantially, with deeply-embedded values far different from our own. The heinous tactics and talking points we see from Islamo-Fascists today come right from the pages of the Q’uran and Hadith.

Muhammad himself spent the majority of his final years on earth engaged in similar wickedness. There’s a reason hundreds of girls under the age of 10 are forced into marriage each year in Iran. This is simply a modern-day fulfillment of Muhammad’s “marriage” to his child-bride of that age.

Further reinforcing what we see today from Hezbollah to the Islamic State isn’t made-up evil, but the emulated variety. They are simply following in their founder’s footsteps, who largely spread his “message” by the wielding the blade.

Whether it was the mass beheadings of Jews following the infamous “battle of the trench,” which Muhammad himself ordered, or the latter conquests of Christian civilizations in Egypt, Libya, and Turkey conducted by his successors.

And Muhammad and his followers instilled these nihilistic ideals in Islamic cultures long before the United States of America came along. He died almost a thousand years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

The greatest flaw in our post-9/11 foreign policy is most of our leaders in both parties failure to admit what I just stated. The ham-fisted apologizing for Islam we see from President Obama now is simply the next logical step from the soft-headed sympathy his predecessor President George W. Bush displayed. It was Bush, remember, who originally coined the talking point “Islam is a religion of peace hijacked by a few crazies.”

Except the history of Islam is everything but peace. Not even at peace with itself, which explains why Muslims are safer, freer, and more prosperous living here, the so-called “Great Satan,” than they would be living in any country in the world dominated by Islam.

Our willful ignorance blinds us to what should be the premise of our post-9/11 foreign policy, as articulated by Jindal:

“Islam has a problem” and “its current manifestation is ISIS.”

Because we have engaged in wishful thinking rather than the truth spoken by Jindal here, the conclusions Paul makes are largely spot on.

Hillary Clinton is not the only 2016 presidential candidate to have voted to invade Iraq, and disastrously sided with the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya and Egypt—so did so-called Republican “hawk” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Paul is also right that we are now working with the same Assad to stop ISIS in Syria that Obama and these so-called “GOP hawks” wanted to topple for his own documented savagery less than two years ago.

Regardless of your politics, that is not a morally coherent foreign policy.

However, while several of Paul’s conclusions are correct, his premise is deeply flawed.

Long before there was even a West, let alone the American meddling he bemoans here, Islam was at war conquering foreign lands and cultures in the name of Allah. Islam needs no external motivation to act out violently. It’s the very history of the dominionist religion itself, as Jindal points out.

If the United States unilaterally pulled out of the Middle East tomorrow, you’d see nearly every Muslim country in the region invade Israel the very next day.

So, yes, Paul’s controversial conclusions have merit. But we’ve made these mistakes because we haven’t acknowledged Jindal’s premise about who the real enemy is. Therefore, we constantly end up putting ourselves in situations where we feel as if we have to choose winners and losers where there is no winner—only losers.

And many lives are lost along the way, as well as our standing in the world and our confidence in the mission here at home.


The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Steve Deace
Steve Deace is one of the "Heavy Hundred" talk show hosts in America according Talkers Magazine. His influence in the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses has been profiled in much of the national media, and he's also a columnist for The Washington Times. His new book, out now and endorsed by a who's who of conservative leaders, is titled Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.

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