During an interview with Breitbart.com last week, Ben Shapiro posed a question to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) about a hypothetical attack on Israel that has become a source of some controversy in the blogosphere, particularly among those of us who have been critical of the foreign policy direction of United States in recent years.
“Does the United States stand with Israel, in terms of giving military foreign aid?” asked Shapiro. Sen. Paul responded, “Well absolutely, we stand with Israel, but what I think we should do is announce to the world, and I think it is well-known, that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States.”
Sen. Paul was critical of the foreign policy views of President Barack Obama during the confirmation hearing of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who has been nominated to serve as the next Secretary of State. He was also critical of Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president in 2012, who advanced the idea that a president can unilaterally go to war without congressional approval.
Doug Stafford, Sen. Paul’s Chief of Staff, recently clarified the remarks in an e-mailed statement.
“The questions asked of Senator Paul in recent days were regarding an unprovoked attack on Israel. In one case the question was regarding a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv from another state,” explained Stafford. “Senator Paul believes that if another country launched an all out war with Israel that the United States should and would assist them in some way.”
Stafford notes that Sen. Paul’s views on the matter are consistent with the approach he has taken during his tenure in the Senate, noting, “He was not discussing any offensive or preemptive war, nor was he describing the skirmishes that come up from time to time in that region. He was discussing a hypothetical all-out attack on Israel by her neighbors.”
He explained that Sen. Paul believes that approval to go to declare or engage in war only “lies with Congress,” noting that making such a strong statement “is likely to lead to a smaller chance of such attack ever taking place.” Stafford also noted that Sen. Paul “never has war as a goal or a preferred policy, only as a last resort.”