A short while ago, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) expounded on his views on the Middle East in the Wall Street Journal. Since that apparently didn’t convince many people, he writes a nearly identical piece in the Journal this week, although now he doesn’t come flat out and say we shouldn’t choose sides between the Iraqi government and the Islamic State. (Will he admit error on that one? Now he concedes, “The Islamic State represents a threat that should be taken seriously.” How Obama-esque of him!) In both pieces, he perversely argues that the United States created the Islamic State by previous interventions. (In case you have forgotten, the United States talked a good game but did nothing to aid the non-jihadi Syrian rebels. Thousands of jihadis then poured into Syria. This resulted in nearly 200,000 dead Syrians and an Islamist State on the march in Iraq.)
Paul still seems entirely ignorant of the non-jihadi Free Syrian Army. At times, he seems to be flat- out lying or else he is baffled by the arguments flying back and forth. (“We should realize that the interventionists are calling for Islamic rebels to win in Syria and for the same Islamic rebels to lose in Iraq.” No one is calling for Islamists to win in Syria. They are trying to aid the Free Syrian Army, which is fighting both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State.) All of this is a setup to propound his isolationist rhetoric, even when U.S. retreat has already proved to be disastrous. (“Those wanting a U.S. war in Syria could not clearly show a U.S. national interest then, and they have been proven foolish now. A more realistic foreign policy would recognize that there are evil people and tyrannical regimes in this world, but also that America cannot police or solve every problem across the globe. Only after recognizing the practical limits of our foreign policy can we pursue policies that are in the best interest of the U.S.”) In fact, early intervention in Syria, well before jihadis flowed into the country, and then ventured back into Iraq, would have prevented a bloody civil war with dire consequences.
Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams tells Right Turn: “Senator Paul simply has the facts wrong. He published his article in The Wall Street Journal but apparently doesn’t read it himself, or he’d have seen last Saturday’s article there detailing how the Assad regime abetted the rise of ISIS.” Paul, however, seems less interested in accuracy than in justifying his own misguided policy proposals. “Those who argued for intervening to strengthen nationalist Syrian rebels have been proved quite right, for as they have weakened ISIS has grown stronger,” Abrams says. “In fact we’ve done in Syria exactly what Rand Paul always wants to do–nothing–and we see the result. It’s the steady growth of a murderous, barbarous terrorist group that now threatens even the homeland.”
At times, Paul sounds like the thought bubble over Obama’s head. Indeed, they share a common determination to avoid reality. In their world, the Iraq war was never won. The withdrawal of forces with no stay-behind troops was the right thing to do. And the real danger is the United States doing something effective.
Sometimes it is hard to tell Obama and Paul apart. Consider this: “History teaches us of the dangers of overreaching, and spreading ourselves too thin, and trying to go it alone without international support, or rushing into military adventures without thinking through the consequences.” Obama or Rand Paul?
Or take a look at this: “The civil war in Syria is a horrible tragedy, but the U.S. simply has no ally in that war. There is no endgame, given the current conditions, that favors the U.S.”
Finally, ponder this one: “The U.S. spent eight years training the Iraqis and nearly a decade of war has brought us to this point. Those who say it was a mistake to leave are forgetting that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government was demanding we leave in 2011.”
The first is Obama, and the second and third are Rand Paul. But the philosophy is the same and the excuses are identical, even in the face of a complete meltdown in the region from lack of U.S. action. Both Obama and Paul are obsessed not with the danger posed by terrorists but by “overreaction” to those who slaughtered journalist James Foley, seek to purge Iraq of Christians and vow to attack the United States The good news is that virtually no other elected official agrees with Paul, nor do any of his potential 2016 rivals. Judging from Republicans’ views expressed in poll after poll and Paul’s declining poll numbers, it sure doesn’t seem like Paul will have any more success than his father, Ron Paul. It is hard to see how calling Obama-Clinton foreign policy war-mongering is going to endear him to the electorate (which is now overwhelmingly concerned that the president is doing too little on foreign policy), let alone Republican primary voters.