Rand Paul: “Benghazi Mission Should Have Been Under the Military”
Rand Paul, the darling of the anti-interventionist crowd, champion of civil liberties, world peace and end of all US military intervention abroad, Sainted Martyr for Speaking out Against Drone Based Tyranny, &c. has declared that were HE in charge, he would have unilaterally changed the US government budget by reallocating money budgeted on “dog kennels” to establish a US military consulate in the city of Benghazi, comparing it to the US occupied capital of Iraq, Baghdad.
Now, we know that any speech given at an event called a “Lincoln Dinner” in Iowa by the state party is likely to consistent of rank hackery and butchering of facts. Let’s get that admission out of the way.
Let’s also, for the moment, dismiss with the hand-wrangling over politicizing Benghazi. And the fact that the people who keep making a hue and cry about having US Marines in a consulate by comparing the security arrangements at one with a full fledged US Fortress of Solitu…err I mean US Embassy in a nation-state’s capital are fucking ignorant or out there to score political points.
No, let’s look at the scary fact that someone being held up as some sort of paragon of anti-interventionism, anti-militarism, etc. etc. ad nauseum is breezily declaring that the US should militarize its most basic diplomatic functions and turn US consulates in potentially dangerous areas into freaking military garrisons. We’re not talking about placing US diplomatic heads of mission (aka, Ambassadors) under lock and key by a bunch of jarheads. No, the statement and the whole tenor of his speech implies Paul is a-okay with making the personal security and safety of US personnel in foreign countries the prime consideration for the State Department’s efforts as a diplomatic service.
Not the promotion of US image.
Not with performing diplomatic missions.
No, marines should be in charge if it means protecting Precious American Blood.
It’s possible to argue that Rand Paul is simply catering to his audience on an issue which is simply the current outrage de l’heure. It’s even possible to argue that such a bit of pandering doesn’t mean well secretly deep down in his soul Randal, Son of the Saint Ron, patron saint of libertarian-congress critters, actually believes this lunacy. The REAL Rand Paul is the one who filibustered about drone strikes against Americans because…well, because!
I disagree with this argument.
In fact, I think this is another example of Paul’s nativist streak.
As the Junior Senator from Kentucky rises in prominence, voices like Adam Serwer and Jillian Rayfield have done a good job of summarizing the consistent, but troubling pattern of Paul making distinctions between US citizens and non-US citizens when it comes to civil liberties and indeed how the US government interacts with them.
It’s a consistent position that he has taken through the years. His vaunted civil liberties crusades and filibusters stop with the birth certificate. US citizens might deserve due process, but not filthy foreign terrorists. Drone strikes? Worth filibustering with non-sensical, multi-hour rants about how robots might blow up US citizens on American soil, but he backed down quite quickly from his initial position when it’s made clear his paranoid ramblings have nothing to do with official US Government policy.
Rand Paul is a nativist. He has cloaked his nativism in the rhetoric of “liberty”. The notion that this man is on a political ascendancy or that this ascendancy might be a remotely good thing either demonstrates a lack of understanding of the shallowness of Paul’s commitment to actual human dignity or a troubling lack of interest in the actual implications of this nativism on how the US interacts with the world.
Christopher Stevens was a man who believed intensely in the mission of the US State Departments mission of being the velvet glove that counteracts the worst impulses of both his own country and its enemies abroad by being out there in person, interacting with people as well, people, not rabid dogs or potential enemies to be feared and hidden behind a castle gate.
For Rand Paul to use the politics of an inquiry into his death in putting his beliefs into practice to advocate for his successors being military consuls with armed garrisons is a disgrace.
If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it’s not for the timid.