Rand Paul 'To Left of Barack Obama' on Foreign Policy, Fellow Republican Says

By Susan Jones | April 7, 2015 | 8:20am EDT

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(CNSNews.com) - One day before Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) formally announced his intention to run for president in 2016, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) criticized him for being "to the left of Barack Obama" on foreign policy.

"As I have said all along, I believe it is in everyone's best interest to find a peaceful way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," Paul said on March 3.

"As to Rand Paul, I like Rand a lot," Sen. Graham told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren on Monday. "But at the end of the day, his foreign policy is to the left of Barack Obama."

Graham noted that Rand Paul was the only senator in September 2012 to vote against Graham's resolution saying that containment would not be the policy of the United States -- that the U.S. would not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. The resolution passed 90-1, with Paul providing the only no vote.

At the time, Paul said a vote for Graham's resolution "is a vote for the concept of preemptive war."

Paul explained his reasoning in brief remarks on the Senate floor:

"The (Graham) resolution states that containment will never be our policy toward Iran. While I think it is unwise to say we will contain Iran, I think it is equally unwise to say we will never contain Iran," Paul said.

"We woke up one day and Pakistan was a nuclear power. We woke up one day and North Korea was a nuclear power -- India, Russia, China. But if we would have announced preemptively that we were not going to contain anyone, then we would be at odds with these countries, and what would the solution be? Preemptive war.

"Announcing to the world, as this resolution does, that containment will never be our policy is unwise. A country that vows to never contain an enemy is a country that vows always to preemptively strike. I urge a 'no' vote on this resolution."

Speaking to Fox News Monday night, Graham said he likes Sen. Paul and will support him if he ends up being the Republican presidential nominee.

"But Rand Paul was the one senator, Greta, that voted against my resolution two (sic) years ago saying that we will not allow Iran to get a nuclear capability and contain them. I think it would be lousy idea to give them a nuclear weapon and hope you could contain them. Ninety senators agree with me. One senator who opposed this resolution was Rand Paul.

"I don't think the best way to negotiate with the Iranians is to have the one senator who would be okay with a nuclear Iran to go in to take Obama's place. I think Rand Paul would be to the left of Obama on this issue, but if he is our nominee I will support it."

Sen. Paul is among the co-sponsors of The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). The bipartisan bill would require the Obama administration to submit the text of any Iran nuclear agreement to Congress for a vote; and it would bar the president from suspending congressionally imposed sanctions for a period of 60 days.

"As I have said all along, I believe it is in everyone's best interest to find a peaceful way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," Paul said on March 3.

"Contingent fully upon the approval (of) Congress, any deal reached must be strong, verifiable, and ultimately, have real consequences if Iran does not comply. This act will give the administration an incentive to negotiate from a position of strength."

Sen. Paul was among the 47 Republicans who last month infuriated the Obama administration by signing an "open letter" to Iran, explaining that any deal Iran reaches with the Obama administration could be revoked by a future president or Congress.

At a congressional hearing on March 11, Paul said he signed the letter to send a message to President Obama "that we want you to obey the law." Paul said he wants Obama to understand that any agreement with Iran that removes or changes sanctions passed by Congress must first be approved by Congress.

“There’s no one in Washington more against war and more for a negotiated deal than I am,” Paul was quoted as saying in a March 15 interview at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. “But I want the negotiated deal to be a good deal.

"So my reason for signing onto the letter, I think it reiterates what is the actual law, that Congress will have to undo sanctions. But I also signed onto the letter because I want the president to negotiate from a position of strength, which means that he needs to be telling them in Iran that ‘I’ve got Congress to deal with.’”

Tuesday's New York Times reported that on the same day Paul announces his presidential run, "foreign policy hawks" will run an attack ad linking a "wrong and dangerous" Rand Paul to Obama's policy on Iran.

“The Senate is considering tough new sanctions on Iran,” the ad says. “President Obama says he’ll veto them and Rand Paul is standing with him. Rand Paul supports Obama’s negotiations with Iran. But he doesn’t understand the threat.”

The ad plays a 2007 audio clip in which Paul calls it "ridiculous" to think that Iran is a threat to U.s. national security.

Rand Paul isn't the only conservative who opposes war with Iran.

Conservative columnist Patrick J. Buchanan wrote on Tuesday, "Today, it is “Bibi” Netanyahu and the neocons howling 'kill the deal' and 'bomb Iran' who are shoving the Republican Party toward the cliff."

In that same column, Buchanan notes that Sen. Lindsey Graham "supports an 'authorization for the use of military force' against Iran and said in 2010 that we should launch an air war so massive that Iran would be unable to defend itself."

Also See:
When Conservatives Tangle: Pat Buchanan and Sean Hannity Spar Over Iran

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