The Post reports on another videotaped remark from now-Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) from 2009, via David Corn, in which Paul claims Vice President Dick Cheney’s association with Halliburton was the motivation for the Iraq war:
“He’s being interviewed (in 1995), I think, by the American Enterprise Institute, and he says it would be a disaster, it would be vastly expensive, it would be civil war, we’d have no exit strategy. He goes on and on for five minutes — Dick Cheney saying it would be a bad idea,” Paul said. “And that’s why the first Bush didn’t go into Baghdad. Dick Cheney then goes to work for Halliburton. Makes hundreds of millions of dollars — their CEO. Next thing you know, he’s back in government, it’s a good idea to go into Iraq.”
Paul also said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were used as a pretext for the invasion.
“It became an excuse,” Paul said. “9/11 became an excuse for a war they already wanted in Iraq.”
This revelation follows reports on other remarks slamming the military option for Iran and claiming U.S. sanctions helped bring about World War II and elsewhere defending his father’s remarks that U.S. foreign policy precipitated 9/11 (although Rand Paul says this didn’t justify the attack). The comments in their totality will reinforce criticism of his views as beyond the GOP mainstream and evocative of his father’s conspiratorial views.
I asked Liz Cheney, as someone close to her father and who worked on his memoirs, for her reaction. She said: “It’s not surprising since Senator Paul often seems to get his foreign policy talking points from Rachel Maddow.”
Indeed, a common thread of anti-Iraq commentary on the antiwar left during the Bush years was the accusation that it was a “war for oil” or that Cheney, although retired from Halliburton, would somehow have benefited from a war. At bottom, it’s an accusation that Cheney, not President George W. Bush, made the decision to go to war. And, worse, it implies that Cheney’s role amounted to treachery for personal gain. This might fly at a MoveOn.org confab, but it will not be appreciated in conservative circles, no matter what GOP voters’ views on Iraq may be.
John Bolton, who served as Bush 43’s ambassador to the United Nations, doesn’t take kindly to the remarks. He e-mailed Right Turn: “Senator Paul should repudiate his remarks and apologize to Vice President Cheney.” Bolton has formed a PAC and a super PAC to promote pro-national security views in the GOP. He received an enthusiastic response at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year both during and after his remarks, which included harsh rebukes of President Obama’s foreign policy and a repudiation of isolationism on the right.
When I asked Rand Paul’s longtime adviser Doug Stafford for the senator’s reaction, he said he was in flight and would not be reachable until later today. When and if he does comment, I will provide that response.