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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told conservative activists Friday that hawkish Republicans have mistakenly concluded that U.S. military intervention is a sign of American strength.

“[Former President Reagan] believed in strength, but he also believed in peace,” Paul said at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. “Our reluctance to conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will.”

Paul has long been in contrast with many in his party for largely isolationist views on foreign policy. He has been skeptical of using force in Iraq, including airstrikes, to combat militants who have overtaken part of the country.

Republicans like Sen. John McCain have argued the militants were emboldened by President Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw troops from Iraq in 2011, and many of the GOP speakers at the conservative conference have slammed Obama for policies they say have diminished America’s standing throughout the world.

“Reagan spoken often of peace through strength. I hear that some in our nation, some in our party have forgotten the first part of the sentence,” Paul said. “Peace should be our goal even as we build our strength. Some in my party have distorted the belief of peace through strength into the misguided belief that we should project strength through war.”