Since President Trump took office, our country finally seems to be heading in the right direction. In just the past year, the American people have seen enormous tax cuts, more judges appointed who take the Constitution seriously, relief from the massive regulatory state, and an economy rapidly gaining strength and offering greater opportunities for those seeking to turn their dreams into reality.
But when it comes to our place on the world stage, we are at a crossroads. We can continue to build on our recent successes by reaffirming America’s role as a trusted, powerful nation guided by principle. Or we can throw it all away by allowing neocon interventionists to infiltrate our leadership and make America the purveyor of destruction.
For decades, we have failed to bring about real peace thanks to a foreign policy guided by the idea that war and intervention are the answers. “Blow up and rebuild” has been the battle cry of those determined to keep us perpetually in conflict.
It was the battle cry of Hillary Clinton, who supported military intervention in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. I supported President Trump during his campaign because he advocated for less military intervention. He opposed the Iraq War. He acknowledged that nation-building doesn’t work. He understood the damage previous foreign policy missteps have caused, including helping to strengthen ISIS.
I want to continue making America great again. That won’t happen if we give power-hungry neocons the reins to our nation’s foreign policy.
People already distrust the CIA. So why on earth has this administration picked someone to run the Agency who was instrumental in running a place where people were tortured and then covered it up afterwards?
The retraction of one anecdote from a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter doesn’t absolve her of wrongdoing and certainly doesn’t negate the rest of the facts, which remain the same. Those actions alone should preclude her from ever running the CIA.
Unfortunately, Haspel is just one of many potential neoconservatives being considered to serve in our country’s top leadership roles. The current CIA director and the president’s pick to become the next secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has defended torture in the past.
Further, he’s been a stalwart defender of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) unconstitutional spying programs and has even written in support of expanding the information government can collect.
I could not support appointing him as CIA director in 2017, and for those same reasons, I will oppose his nomination to be our chief diplomat now.
Just as troublesome are recent news reports that John Bolton is being considered for a senior administration position. Just recently, Bolton advocated for a preemptive strike against North Korea. If he had his way, our nation would be embroiled in dozens of armed conflicts in every corner of the world.
I want to be clear. This issue is much bigger than a simple disagreement over policy—and far more consequential. These are dangerous appointments.
Allowing the failed foreign policies of the past to have a place in this administration, and sanctioning the infiltration of our government by those who eagerly await the next opportunity for war, not only says we don’t learn from our mistakes, it will result in a world with far more enemies than opportunities for stability and peace.
If we are to avoid a future that is war-torn and mired in endless conflicts, we must do better than appointing these flawed nominees. I find them unacceptable, and I won’t support them. I hope the president will reconsider, too.
Rand Paul is the junior U.S. senator from Kentucky and a Republican.