- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2014

Employing a label his critics have often tried to foist upon him, Sen. Rand Paul hit back at criticism from Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, over his stance on Cuba this week, saying it’s Mr. Rubio who seems to be acting like an isolationist on the issue.

“Senator Marco Rubio believes the embargo against Cuba has been ineffective, yet he wants to continue perpetuating failed policies. After 50 years of conflict, why not try a new approach?” Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, said in a statement posted to his Facebook page.

Mr. Paul, who like Mr. Rubio is weighing a presidential run in 2016, pointed out that the United States trades and engages with other communist countries like China and Vietnam and that he is a proponent of “peace through commerce.”

“Seems to me, Senator Rubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism,” Mr. Paul said.

Mr. Paul also pointed to recent polling that shows a majority of Cuban Americans support normalizing relations between the two countries, as President Obama announced this week, though Mr. Rubio said earlier this week that “I don’t care if the polls say that 99 percent of people believe we should normalize relations in Cuba.”

“I’d still believe that before we can normalize relations in Cuba, democracy has to come first, or at least significant steps toward democracy,” Mr. Rubio said.

In breaking from much of the GOP pack on President Obama’s Cuba announcement, Mr. Paul once again appears to find himself in a minority of his party on a matter of foreign policy, at least among the Republicans who have spoken out against Mr. Obama’s announcement in recent days.

But others in the party have actually tried to label Mr. Paul an isolationist for his past statements on issues like overseas intervention, which Mr. Paul has worked to push back against this year by pitching what he calls a foreign policy of “conservative realism.”

In a separate op-ed for Time, Mr. Paul wrote that emotions understandably run high “for those whose parents and grandparents had their land and their lives taken from them.”

“But if our goal is to defeat Castro and defeat communism then perhaps we should step back and ask ourselves, ‘Has the embargo worked?’ ” he wrote. “If we allow the passions to cool, maybe just maybe, we might conclude that trade is better than war and that capitalism wins [every] time a people get a chance to see its products.

“Let’s hope cooler heads will ultimately prevail and we unleash a trade tsunami that washes the Castros once and for all into the sea,” he concluded.

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