By Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
Donald Trump should pick someone to be his secretary of state who will advocate for Donald Trump’s views on foreign policy. That sounds simple, but the mix of candidates bandied about by the media includes several who don’t share the president-elect’s worldview.
Trump has been clear and consistent about his opposition to the Iraq War and to regime change. The media never really understood and still largely doesn’t understand the significance of Trump’s grasping our failures in the Middle East.
The media, never shy from engaging in the petty, obsessed over when exactly Trump opposed the Iraq War instead of exposing the stark differences between Trump’s worldview and Clinton’s worldview. Clinton’s regret over her support for the Iraq invasion seemed more contrived than heartfelt. She certainly never really grasped the historical lesson of Iraq, that regime change often leads to unintended and undesirable outcomes.
Iran is stronger and more of a menace because of the Iraq War. Iraq became a vacuum and then a sectarian-divided country closely aligned with Iran. If Clinton ever absorbed this lesson, it was not apparent given her continued advocacy for regime change in Libya and Syria.
Regardless of when Trump first opposed the Iraq War, he without question vocalized his opposition consistently throughout the campaign and drew clear conclusions that regime change often doesn’t make America safer, that nation-building is expensive and frequently doesn’t work, and that, in Syria, regime change is likely to make ISIS stronger. Clinton never got one iota of the lesson of the Iraq War, and those of us who want war to be the last resort are lucky that she will never be president.
Trump needs a secretary of state who supports his domestic agenda as well. He won’t be able to rebuild America if we continue to spend billions rebuilding other countries at the same time. Most Americans get this: there is not enough money to build bridges abroad and rebuild at home.
The U.S. has spent over $100 billion on infrastructure in Afghanistan, including $80 million on a Clinton disaster of an embassy in Mazar-e Sharif that will never be occupied because the State Department ignored every security restriction and built a facility so unsafe that personnel refused to move in. The Obama Pentagon also spent $45 million building a natural gas fueling station in Afghanistan, a country that did not have a single vehicle that runs on natural gas.
Donald Trump needs a secretary of state who understands that we can’t build nations abroad and have enough money to rebuild our own nation. Both Trump’s foreign policy and domestic policy depend on him picking someone who has fully learned the historic lesson of the Iraq War: regime change and nation building don’t work and cost too much.
Trump should be Trump and pick a secretary of state who will put America first.
Rand Paul is the junior U.S. senator from Kentucky.