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There Are Exactly Two Republican Presidential Candidates Who Are Coherent on Foreign Policy. And They Disagree.

We're six months away from the Iowa Caucus, so there's plenty of time for other Republican candidates to clarify views, but so far only Marco Rubio and Rand Paul have proven themselves articulate and knowledgeable on foreign policy.

Ian Bremmer: The most coherent candidates on the Republican side on foreign policy so far are two — one would be Marco Rubio, who absolutely is the most traditional stand up for intervention, indispensable American supporter. I mean he has basically said that I will defend any intervention of international air space, cyberspace, outer space. You name it; I’m all over it. He hasn’t said how he’s going to pay for it, how he’s going to get Congress to support him. But nonetheless he certainly sounds super indispensable and he’s going to have to answer some questions around that. He’s shown himself to be pretty articulate on foreign policy so far.

Quite surprisingly to many of us on the foreign policy scene that hadn’t seen much from him heretofore. Rand Paul, on the other side, also very articulate on foreign policy. Completely different set of beliefs. I mean saying basically not only would he not have gone into the war in Iraq, but that Iraq was more stable under Saddam Hussein. Something that’s clearly true, but not a lot of people want to say. And I think, you know, a lot of Rand Paul’s inconvenient truths on intervention in places like Libya, sanctions against Russia, cybersurveillance, I mean things that really do seem like they subvert American values — they spend a lot of money; they don’t necessarily accomplish a lot for the Americans clearly long term — put him much more firmly in the independent camp.

So, you know, what’s interesting again early days, but we do actually see candidates coming out in very different places in answering these questions at a very superficial level so far. But I mean with over a year left in the campaign — God our campaigns are long and expensive — can we please stop that? But leaving that aside there’s going to be great opportunity to actually flesh these issues out.

It's an odd truth, but sometimes it pays not to articulate your views when running for president. Many voters don't care about the intricacies of policy, and even more don't want to be made to feel dumb by hearing some wonky egghead drawl on about minute political details. The masses support candidates with ideas, not plans. This applies even when an idea is infeasible: Just look at the Trump campaign.

Political scientist Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia group and author of the book Superpower, pinpoints two Republican candidates out of the entire field who have so far proven themselves to be coherent on the topic of foreign policy: Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. This is not to say that the others are ignoramuses, merely that thus far in the campaign, they have offered only superficial answers to questions regarding American foreign policy. There's still plenty of time for the campaign to (hopefully) procure more articulate responses from the candidates. But, so far, Rubio's interventionist stance and Paul's opposing non-interventionist position stand out from the pack because they're not superficial. Rubio and Paul have plans, not just ideas.


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