- - Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I’ve figured out the reason why non-interventionists and “neocons” can’t stand one another. They’re too much alike. Each is peddling a Utopian philosophy that sounds great when confined to a white paper, but doesn’t acknowledge the reality of the nature of evil in a very real world.

And I’m not alone in this conclusion. If you’re keeping up on what Sen. Rand Paul is saying about our foreign policy recently, it turns out he agrees. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Criticizing America’s Hellenists, the neocons, only gets you Hosannas nowadays after our clear failure to successfully nation-build in Afghanistan and Iraq. If President Obama wasn’t such a failure, the neocons would be our favorite punching bag.

All the neocons taught us is that liberty isn’t an exportable commodity in the hands of a federal government that is the greatest domestic threat to it. Nor is freedom a plug-and-play flash drive compatible with every belief system, but there are reasons why America is exceptional that are fundamental to our founding after all. Our history doesn’t change despite the fact we’re foolishly abandoning that legacy in our day. Not to mention the fact a pretty good rule of thumb is whenever Rep. Peter King is your front man, you know you’re toast.

However, just as the non-interventionist crowd was crowing about the defeat of their dreaded neocon nemesis, evil incarnate arrived to remind us that we don’t have to go looking for trouble in a fallen world. Most of the time evil will find us just fine. So far the non-interventionist response to Islamic State is to blame the whole thing on George W. Bush for getting us into Iraq in the first place. That all sounds well and good until you realize Islamic State doesn’t come from Iraq. It went to Iraq. And it wasn’t looking to free the weed.

But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s look at what “non-interventionist” Mr. Paul has to say about Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

Headline from Newsweek: “John McCain and Rand Paul are Allies on ISIS War Vote.” Last year, Mr. McCain was calling Rand a “wacko bird,” but now they’re bosom buddies.

Headline from Breitbart: “Rand Paul: Destroy ISIS Now.”

Headline from Huffington Post: “Non-Interventionist Rand Paul Wants to Destroy ISIS.”

Headline from Daily Caller: “Rand Paul: Time To Destroy ISIS Militarily.”

Headline from Fox News: “Republicans Evolving on ISIS: Rand Paul Takes Tougher Stance on Terrorism.”

The more Rand Paul continues to craft his views on the basis of running for president, rather than carrying the torch for libertarian orthodoxy, the less like his father he becomes. On domestic policy that’s disappointing. Say what you will about Ron Paul, but you always knew where he stood. On hot-button issues like immigration, life, and marriage Mitt Romney called, and even he thinks Rand Paul is too nuanced.

But on foreign policy, Rand Paul is exactly correct to abandon the naive shackles of non-interventionism. While many of the devotees his father left behind chose for the longest time to believe Rand was a chip off the old block, despite all the actual evidence to the contrary, even they can no longer deny that when it comes to foreign policy Rand is his own man. He just so happens to be figuring that out in the context of his presidential aspirations. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

His first year in the U.S. Senate, Rand filed a bill to end all taxpayer-funded foreign aid, and his father’s minions cheered. But once another round of rockets from Hamas started hitting the Iron Dome in Israel this summer, Rand sheepishly tried to deny his own legislation. Political reality meet candidacy. Candidacy meet political reality. I figured I should check with an expert on the subject, and John Kerry assured me acknowledging political reality is not the same as a flip-flop. So there’s that.

Now Rand wants to chase the Islamic State to the gates of Hell faster than Vice President Joe Biden does. By the way, we’re acknowledging the existence of Hell again? I thought acknowledging Hell put you on the wrong side of history? But I digress.

An ambitious politician like Rand Paul has two options when his talking points are confronted by political reality — know when to hold them and know when to fold them. You hold them when you really believe in them, and think they’re what’s best for the country. In fact, you might even try to sell them to the people if you can. I know, we’re used to pandering instead but I think I read about this happening in a history book once. His name was Reagan and it was the 1980s.

On the other hand, you fold them when you don’t really believe in them, or realize that you’d like to but they’re wrong. Herein lies Rand Paul.

I’d love to live in a world where Islamo-Fascists just want American wampum, and if we give them access to KFC and our internet porn they’ll become as dazed and confused as a culture as we are. But that is not the world we live in.

Rand was right to oppose fighting alongside Al-Qaeda in Syria last year. There was no clear American objective, and no moral high ground to seize. That’s why the American people rallied to him. Just as he’s also right to advocate the destruction of Islamic State in this case, because they advocate the destruction of us and have already acted upon it.

How many Americans does Islamic State have to behead before we respond?

If that was your kid threatened with beheading in those videos, would you still advocate for non-interventionism?

Rand is right to flip-flop … err … evolve. We cannot be ideologically dogmatic about foreign policy in a world where cultures come to the table with vastly different value systems. In the 18th century we could practice non-interventionism in Europe, since our two peoples largely shared the same traditions of western civilization. But when confronted with the Jihadists of their day, the Barbary Coast pirates, 18th century America also understood you can’t cling to non-interventionism when the enemy is intervening with you.

Welcome to the real world, Rand.

(Steve Deace is a nationally-syndicated talk show host and the author of “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.)

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