“I think we defeat terrorism by showing them that we do not fear them,” he said in his first answer. “I think if we ban certain religions, if we censor the Internet, I think that at that point the terrorists will have won.” He went on, “I will do whatever it takes to defend America. But in defending America, we cannot lose what America stands for. Today is the Bill of Rights' anniversary. I hope we will remember that and cherish that in the fight on terrorism.” Later, Paul tried to speak out against indefinite detention, but was shut down by moderator Wolf Blitzer.
His position is nevertheless clear: Overreacting to terrorism can do more harm than terrorism itself.
Later still, he took aim at the neoconservative faction and Donald Trump in a single answer:
I think that by arming the allies of ISIS, the Islamic rebels against Assad, that we created a safe space or made that space bigger for ISIS to grow. I think those who have wanted regime change have made a mistake. When we toppled Gadhafi in Libya, I think that was a mistake. I think ISIS grew stronger, we had a failed state, and we were more at risk.
I'd like to also go back to, though, another question, which is, is Donald Trump a serious candidate? The reason I ask this is, if you're going to close the Internet, realize, America, what that entails. That entails getting rid of the First amendment, OK? It's no small feat. If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize that there's something called the Geneva Convention we're going to have to pull out of. It would defy every norm that is America. So when you ask yourself, whoever you are, that think you're going to support Donald Trump, think, do you believe in the Constitution? Are you going to change the Constitution?
And while Paul did not criticize Cruz directly, he is surely least likely among the GOP candidates to urge the carpet bombing a foreign country or a war of choice against Iran.
Paul has many flaws, like all his rivals.
But if you’re hoping for a nominee who champions civil liberties even in war time; opposes a proxy war with Russia; opposes “carpet-bombing,” war with Iran, or punishing innocent Muslims; and its temperamentally and ideologically unlikely to overreact to terrorism, then Paul is the GOP candidate for you. I realize that I am describing a collection of positions that may appeal more to centrist elites than large swaths of the GOP primary electorate. And yet I notice those elites are more favorably disposed to Bush, Rubio, and even Cruz than to Paul.
They should reconsider their opinion of Paul.
Having watched the Kentucky senator struggle in the polls, I’d started to hope that Kasich, who has good qualities, would gain traction. But with Kasich declaring his desire to lash out at a nuclear rival and launch a Persian Gulf-style invasion of Syria, during a debate in which Paul turned in the strongest performance of his career, Paul deserves to surge. There is no saner voice in the GOP primary debate about ISIS.
Rand Paul 2016: Because everyone else’s foreign policy is terrifying.