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Don’t Call Rand Paul an Isolationist!

9:29 AM, Jul 19, 2014 • By DAVID ADESNIK
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Last week, Texas governor Rick Perry made that mistake. Sen. Paul responded by mocking Gov. Perry’s new hipster glasses and saying that if the governor remains so stubbornly ignorant, “I’ll make it my personal policy to ignore Rick Perry’s opinions.”

Rand Paul by Gage Skidmore

In a recent issue of the Weekly Standard, I ask some questions about Rand Paul and isolationism, but the only response from Sen. Paul’s office has been the hurried removal of embarrassing material from the senator’s website.

That material comprised a recommended reading list for students, whose foreign policy section consisted entirely of books that blame the United States for the rise of Islamic extremism, even attributing the attacks of September 11 to American folly rather than al Qaeda’s murderous ideology.

Some of the authors on the list are outright isolationists, like Pat Buchanan and Rep. Ron Paul, the senator’s father. Some assert that pro-Israel forces secretly manipulate American foreign policy. Some go on at length about the sins of the American “empire.” In short, the list is a complete embarrassment for a senator who consistently invokes Ronald Reagan as the inspiration for his foreign policy.

To protect his reputation, there was no choice but to disown the list. But where did it come from? How long was it up on Paul’s website before its sudden disappearance? I don’t know, but his father’s fans have been praising it for at least a year.

Did Senator Paul compose the list personally? Has he actually read all the books he recommends? Is he willing to share the story behind the list? I don’t know, but perhaps an enterprising journalist will ask him those questions.

For the moment, I’d just like to help out the students who will turn to the senator’s website in search of high-quality summer reading, only to find that its advice now consists of the brief admonition, “For Student Assistance, please see the Tour Requests, Page Programs, Internships, and Academy Nominations tabs listed under the 'Services' Tab on the Homepage.”

To fill that void, here is a list of ten books about the past, present and future of American foreign and defense policy which any elected official should be proud to have on their website:

1.     Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life (2011). Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography. The best single-volume biography of Washington, which captures both his enduring greatness and his human flaws.

2.     James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom (1988). Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history. A masterful account of the Civil War. Possibly offensive to any of Sen. Paul’s staff who advocate secession.

3.     Lynne Olson, Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941 (2013). A page-turner for those who actually want to understand what isolationism was all about.  A New York Times bestseller.

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