How can American foreign policy meet the challenge of radical Islam?

By adopting the principles America used to win the cold war, said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in a major foreign policy speech at The Heritage Foundation.

“What the United States needs now is a policy that finds a middle path,” said Paul. “A policy that is not rash or reckless. A foreign policy that is reluctant, restrained by constitutional checks and balances, but does not appease.”

The junior Kentucky Senator drew lessons from both Ronald Reagan and the diplomat George Kennan, who famously wrote a 5,000-word “Long Telegram” advising a policy of containment against communism. Paul said containment should serve as the basis for America’s response to radical Islamic terrorism.

Photo credit: Benjamin Myers Photography

“Like communism, radical Islam is an ideology with worldwide reach,” he said. “Containing radical Islam requires a worldwide strategy like containment.”

“Some libertarians argue that Western occupation fans the flames of radical Islam—I agree,” said Paul. “But I don’t agree that absent Western occupation that radical Islam ‘goes quietly into that good night.’ I don’t agree with FDR’s VP Henry Wallace that the Soviets (or radical Islam in today’s case) can be discouraged by ‘the glad hand and the winning smile.’”

Instead, Paul argued that adopting a Reagan-like stance in American foreign policy would better serve American interests.

“The truth is that Reagan used clear messages of communism’s evil and clear exposition of America’s strength to contain and ultimately transcend the Soviet Union,” he said.

Paul’s speech was delivered on Reagan’s 102nd birthday. More than 300 people attended the event, filling two auditoriums.