Foreign-policy credentials: Paul served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s, spending time on the ground in countries like Ethiopia, Iran, Pakistan, South Korea, and Turkey. He also sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Overview: Paul's libertarian, noninterventionist, empire-shunning foreign policy is often described as Tea Party isolationist, but he sees it as defending and strengthening the homeland within budgetary and constitutional constraints. "Isolationism is -- is something that the protectionists want," Paul explained in June. "They want to close borders for people coming in, and they want to close trade, and I have no desire to do that all because I'm a free trader and I want as much travel and communication with other countries as possible. This is what the Founders advised. We were never given the authority to be the policemen of the world."
Advisors: The campaign hasn't released much information about who's advising the congressman on foreign policy, but it did announce in August that it had hired constitutional and international-law expert Bruce Fein to advise on legal matters and the "dangers to national security of an increasingly interventionist foreign policy."
On the Issues:
Afghanistan/Pakistan: As part of a larger cessation of military operations abroad, Paul wants to swiftly withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and transfer power to Afghan officials. "We'll have less danger to us if we don't occupy foreign countries, because that's the top motivation for the desire to come here and kill Americans," he contends. He views the U.S.-Pakistan relationship as an "impossible situation" and worries that Pakistan will be the "next occupation." Paul also condemns drone strikes, which he says are inciting anti-Americanism and civil war in Pakistan. "For everyone you kill," he observes, "you probably create 10 new people who hate our guts and would like to do us harm."
Military spending: Military spending and defense spending are two different beasts, according to Paul. "We can spend money on defense -- that's OK -- but we just can't afford all these hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars we're spending on all these wars," he argues.
Immigration/borders: Paul's top national security priority is securing the United States' borders. He opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants and granting citizenship to children of illegal immigrants born in the United States. But he's not a fan of a "barbed-wire fence with machine guns," which he claims could actually keep Americans penned in rather than prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country. "I think this fence business is designed and may well be used against us and keep us in," he declared in September. "In economic turmoil, the people want to leave with their capital, and there's capital controls and there's people controls."
Israel/Palestine: Paul thinks the United States should stay "friends" with Israel but cut off foreign aid, which he says harms Israel's national sovereignty. In a floor speech reproduced in his book, A Foreign Policy of Freedom: Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship, Paul recommends staying neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "[I]f we have solidarity with Israel, then we have hostility to the Palestinians," he explains.