A battle is going on for the future of Republican foreign policy. At one end of the spectrum stand the isolationists–or, if they prefer, non-interventionists–like Rand Paul. The Kentucky senator has incredibly enough has called for the elimination of all foreign aid–a policy that, if ever implemented, would decrease American clout in the world and leave allies dangerously exposed. His message resonates with some in these days of war-weariness and budget insolvency. But his policies are extremely dangerous–not only for the United States and the world but also for the Republican Party which, if it were to embrace the Paulian gospel, would return to its irrelevancy of the 1930s.
Luckily Paul does not speak for the majority of Republicans–not even close. Luckily, too, there are smart voices emerging in the party to provide a principled voice for American leadership in the world. Foremost among the new contributors to the debate is Senator Marco Rubio, who has defended the utility of foreign aid in general while not being afraid to condition U.S. assistance on the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives.
In this regard Rubio has just introduced the Egypt Accountability and Democracy Amendment, which “would block the disbursement of additional economic support funds and new foreign military financing (FMF) contracts until Egypt begins to enact economic reforms and the Obama administration certifies that Egypt is protecting basic freedoms and human rights.”
This is an entirely appropriate response to the growing campaign by the Muslim Brotherhood to seize control of all aspects of Egyptian society including the judiciary–and it stands in contrast not only to Paul’s simple-minded efforts to cut of all assistance to everyone everywhere but also to Secretary of State John Kerry’s overly generous pledge to give Egypt another $250 million in economic aid even without any evidence of real economic reforms. Rubio is redefining conservative internationalism for the Age of Obama–and beyond.