Senator Rand Paul, newly reelected to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Tuesday morning that he is inclined to oppose former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani or former U.N. ambassador John Bolton if either was nominated by Donald Trump for secretary of state.
“It’s important that someone who was an unrepentant advocate for the Iraq War, who didn’t learn the lessons of the Iraq War, shouldn’t be the secretary of state for a president who says Iraq was a big lesson,” Paul said in an interview with the Washington Post. “Trump said that a thousand times. It would be a huge mistake for him to give over his foreign policy to someone who [supported the war]. I mean, you could not find more unrepentant advocates of regime change.”
Paul mentioned that the two apparent frontrunners for the post, Giuliani and Bolton, “have made it clear that they favor bombing Iran.”
The Kentucky Senator continued:
“I’m hoping that if there’s a public discussion of this before it happens, people in the incoming administration realize that regime change made us less safe and the Iraq War made us less safe. We don’t need, as our chief diplomat, someone whose idea of diplomacy is dropping bombs.”
The floating of key roles for Giuliani and Bolton have given some libertarians and “paleoconservatives” pause. On Tuesday morning, at a Washington D.C. conference hosted by the American Conservative magazine, a number of foreign policy writers criticized the names floated for the State Department.
Paul holds an extremely influential position on the issue. As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, he will be voting on whether to recommend Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. Since Republicans hold a 10 to 9 edge in that committee, Paul’s vote may well be the decisive vote. While that would not stop a full Senate vote on the nominee, it would likely expose splits in the Republican Party in the very first weeks of a Trump administration.
The Kentucky Senator suggested that realists would get a broader hearing than “the neocons” who had advocated for war in the past. “There’s going to continue to be right-left continuum in the Senate on issues like selling arms to Yemen. As far as the neocons go, he shouldn’t touch those people with a 10 foot pole,” the Senator said.