Rand Paul: If it was wrong not to protect the Benghazi consulate, it’s wrong not to protect the one in Kurdistan

posted at 2:41 pm on September 17, 2014 by Allahpundit

A good line aimed at libertarians who used to hammer Obama for his negligence in Benghazi and who are hammering Rand now for wanting to flex a little U.S. muscle in Iraq.

While the beheadings of U.S. citizens James Foley and Steven Sotloff are a factor, he says, Paul is especially insistent that protecting the U.S. consulate in Erbil, Iraq is a major cause for ongoing concern. Erbil is near Mosul, a city overrun by ISIS with relative ease, he says, and it’s of paramount importance that the United States protect its diplomatic personnel in Iraq.

“If it was wrong not to protect the consulate in Benghazi, then it’s wrong not to protect the consulate in Erbil,” he says…

“People will draw different lines,” he says, which is “precisely why these things need to be discussed and voted on publicly in Congress.” Some people might say that military action is only called for when the homeland is directly threatened or attacked, he notes, while others would make cases for the need to protect American ships, properties, embassies, and legitimate presences in foreign countries.

I’m not the target audience here but since when does protecting a consulate require an air offensive against a large jihadi army? Americans never demanded U.S. airstrikes against jihadis in Benghazi to preemptively protect American diplomatic outposts; they wanted a contingent of Marines deployed to each embassy and consulate so that the enemy could be kept at bay while staffers were evacuated if things got hairy on the ground. When in doubt, get out. That’s what we did in Tripoli, no? The city got too dangerous so we removed our diplomats for their own safety. You could do the same thing for the consulate in Erbil. Send 300 Marines there and have planes on standby to airlift everyone if ISIS starts to overrun Kurdistan. In fact, if you want to get really Ron-Paul-ish about this, you could argue that our imperial outpost in Erbil is egging the ISIS boys on and should probably be removed altogether in the name of peace. If an air offensive is potentially justified everywhere American diplomats are working in the shadow of danger, there could be a lot of airstrikes in a Rand administration.

That’s not the only interview he gave over the last few days to try to rebut the accusations that he’s flip-flopped on Iraq and ISIS. Here’s what he told Ben Domenech:

The thing that I in some ways laugh at, because nobody seems to get this, is that I spent the past five years in public life telling everyone that “hey, I’m not an isolationist” … and when they find out I’m not, they say I’ve switched positions, because I’m not the position they were saying I was. You know what I mean? So for five years they’ve been accusing me of being something that I say I’m not. And then when they find out I’m really not, they say I’ve changed my position. You can see how it’s a little bit frustrating for me.

But that’s not really what he’s been accused of. Broadly he’s been accused of shifting from isolationism to interventionism, but he’s been accused lately specifically of shifting on ISIS. Read this if you haven’t already and you’ll see how. What he said about ISIS three months ago doesn’t line up with what he said about ISIS two weeks ago (as libertarians have also noticed), and it’s really no defense for him to say “well, the facts on the ground changed.” Rand was still taking a dovish line in June after ISIS had seized Mosul, which endangered Erbil and signaled that the group would be a long-term strategic threat to the U.S. The only sensational development after that was ISIS beheading James Foley and Steven Sotloff, but that’s precisely the sort of provocation that libertarians typically warn others against being seduced by. Not every act of terrorism requires war; responding emotionally to an atrocity that doesn’t implicate broader American interests usually produces rash, poorly thought out policy. Rand does acknowledge a broader strategic worry in his interview with Domenech — “I think ultimately if left to their own devices, they could organize the same way Al-Qaeda organized in Afghanistan” — but as I say, that’s been true since they started rolling over the Iraqi army months ago. What changed? Nor is this the first time he’s seemed to shift suddenly on how we should handle a global hotspot. In February, he complained that some American hawks seem to want to “tweak” Russia all the time; 10 days later, after more Putin aggression and more Republican outrage over it, he was complaining that Obama’s not being hard enough on Russia. Hmmmm.

I like this part, though:

In general, I do think the war on the ground should be fought by those who live there. It offends me that sixteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudis, it offends me that they finance radical Islam, and it offends me that they get rich off of our buying their oil and they don’t fight. So I’d like to see the first several thousands in the front lines attacking ISIS be Iraqis, but I’d also like to see the Saudis up there, Kuwaitis, Qataris. I’d like to see them fight. Ultimately, and this is where I in some ways I agree with the president, this is a long war against radical Islam, but the ultimate victory over radical Islam will have to come from civilized Islam.

Telling our Sunni “allies” to fight their own battles is gooooood politics, and potentially a killer app when the rest of the field onstage at the debates next year is trying to one-up each other on who’s the hawkiest hawk of all. There’s a sound response to Rand’s point but it’s a response that his rivals will be reluctant to give — namely, that the populations of Saudi Arabia and Jordan are sufficiently pro-Islamist themselves that sending troops to fight ISIS in Syria might destabilize those regimes. We have to fight their battles for them to some extent, especially since ISIS might now be powerful enough to fend off an Arab military assault. As I say, though, no one wants to talk about that and Rand’s take on it has immense populist appeal in a war-weary country. He should stick with it and build on it.

Two more points about “Rand versus the hawks doves,” broadly speaking. One: If you don’t believe that he’s “evolving” earnestly here but is simply making hawkish noises to preserve his viability in the primaries, well, then you should console yourself with the thought that President Paul would probably also be hawkish even when he really doesn’t want to be. A man who’s willing to do politically expedient things he disdains to get elected will do politically expedient things he disdains to get reelected. Plus, a president who takes office with a dovish reputation may feel he has something to prove when he’s first tested by an enemy, to warn the rest of the world not to test him. Watch out for that lame-duck second term, though! Two: If Rand continues to metamorphose into a hawk, the debates are going to be more boring than everyone expects. The charm of a Paul candidacy, even for those who dislike him, was supposed to be that he’ll give GOP voters a clear choice between the usual flavors of GOP hawkishness — Rubio’s McCain-ish “save the world” approach, Cruz’s Jacksonian “kill ’em and get out” approach, etc — and a far more “modest” interventionist. At this rate, how clear will the choice really be by summer 2015?

Update: The DNC is ready for Rand.


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Comments

Not welcome there…obama paid him to say this.

Schadenfreude on September 17, 2014 at 2:45 PM

you should console yourself with the thought that President Paul would probably also be hawkish even when he really doesn’t want to be.

Another crack in the Isolationist Curtain erected by the NeoClowns.

The political and economic reality of our withdrawal does not have to mean leaving embassies defenseless.

LawfulGood on September 17, 2014 at 2:50 PM

the ultimate victory over radical Islam will have to come from civilized Islam.

Where is this “civilized Islam” you speak of Senator? Cause I’m pretty sure some of those you name here fund “extremist” Islam.

chuckfinlay on September 17, 2014 at 2:52 PM

this is a long war against radical Islam, but the ultimate victory over radical Islam will have to come from civilized Islam.

There are civilized Muslims, but there is no radical Islam and certainly no civilized Islam. There is only Islam.

As Lord Cromer observed over a century ago, “Islam reformed is Islam no longer.”

Rand Paul is an interesting character and I share some of his views and positions on the role of government but he is completely unreliable on foreign policy.

novaculus on September 17, 2014 at 2:54 PM

OT – Gardner ahead of Udall by 1 in new CO Senate poll

22044 on September 17, 2014 at 2:57 PM

AP, you are correct…the jarheads protect our embassies from day-to-day and unexpected threats, but if it appears the embassy is in true danger of being overrun, we evacuate.

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on September 17, 2014 at 2:57 PM

I’m not the target audience here but since when does protecting a consulate require an air offensive against a large jihadi army? Americans never demanded U.S. airstrikes against jihadis in Benghazi to preemptively protect American diplomatic outposts; they wanted a contingent of Marines deployed to each embassy and consulate so that the enemy could be kept at bay while staffers were evacuated if things got hairy on the ground.

No offense, AP, but no reason we can’t have BOTH.

Send Marines in to secure the compound, yes…and if need be, send in Heavy bombers to soften up the area *around* the embassy if need be and to provide cover.

We’re Americans, we CAN walk and chew gum.

This is modern warfare and in an era and area where MANPADS and even advanced RPG can be deployed against choppers, makes no sense not to utilizes every tool available to protect our people…and trying to play “Match Me If You Can” isn’t smart policy.

BlaxPac on September 17, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Heh. OT: Code Pinkos disrupt Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after he singles them out for criticism. Kerry also returning to the tired Obama claim that ISIS aren’t “real” Muslims.

novaculus on September 17, 2014 at 3:02 PM

I read what Rand Paul said to the Federalist in its entirety.
He makes a lot of sense.

This article, no so much.

Amjean on September 17, 2014 at 3:03 PM

when does protecting a consulate require an air offensive against a large jihadi army?

When the army has armored vehicles left to be used against American personnel. Oh…and the tanks they keep driving around the streets. They didn’t have those in Benghazi. But most importantly, because we can.

Yes, we should leave, but air support can assist in that move. They are there now because we don’t want a intel vacuum that we had previously in the region. Once we go, we lose eyes on the ground. This consulate is the closest to the fight, and they just sent over 300 Marines to guard it.

Patriot Vet on September 17, 2014 at 3:05 PM

OT – Gardner ahead of Udall by 1 in new CO Senate poll

22044 on September 17, 2014 at 2:57 PM


Wave in CO…enough who’re not choomed, maybe.

Schadenfreude on September 17, 2014 at 3:06 PM

OT: Kerry Whoppers so far:

“We’ve been on top of the ISIL problem since last January.”

“The Iraqi Army is ready to take on ISIL in the ground war.”

Blowin Smoke.

fogw on September 17, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Doesn’t matter anymore. I’m a long-time supporter and Rand made a distinction once; Libertarianism is not Libertine.

At that time, he was on the correct path, which was not to kowtow to Reason or the College Libertarian’s because they’re swimming in Libertine leftists. He’s bailed on that due to money and the need for foot soldiers.

Paul got too cute in the gamesmanship. He’s surrounded by horrendous sycophants who are no different than any other political ops. His only path forward now is to be his dad, and that ends in South Carolina.

budfox on September 17, 2014 at 3:11 PM

hes damned correct about the saudis.

dmacleo on September 17, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Shhhh, John

Schadenfreude on September 17, 2014 at 3:12 PM

OT via Ace: ‘Django’ Actress: We Got the PicturesAnd It Looks Like Sex

So not only is she a lying race baiter, but a lying, race baiting whore who deserved to have the cops called on her. I look forward to her next interview, and JazzShaw’s obnoxious analysis of the current situation as it stands.

NotCoach on September 17, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Rand Paul: If it was wrong not to protect the Benghazi consulate, it’s wrong not to protect the one in Kurdistan

Here’s a novel idea. Don’t put embassies and consulates in countries where there’s even a remote possibility they can’t/won’t be protected. Either that or send a Marine or Army infantry battalion to guard them…but we don’t have too many of those left, so…

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM

” but since when does protecting a consulate require an air offensive against a large jihadi army?”

hmmm maybe if your hero Ronald Reagan did something about all the embassy bombings during his 8 years in office instead of surrendering to Islamists… We could have sent a message 30 years ago that our soil was off limits.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 3:32 PM

hmmm maybe if my hero Obama did something about all the embassy bombings during his 8 years in office instead of surrendering to Islamists… We could have sent a message 30 years ago that our soil was off limits.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Great point, you just had the wrong name! 8)

LawfulGood on September 17, 2014 at 3:42 PM

LawfulGood on September 17, 2014 at 3:42 PM

I see you are not disagreeing the premise of my beautifully succinct point. In a lot of ways Obama has been way more hawkish than Coward Reagan ever was….

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Obama’s foreign policy and his military misadventures are all primarily driven by his personal and political agendas. There is no “strategy” to any of it, just what serves Obama’s purposes. The security and interests of the United States have never been priorities for Obama, except to the extent pretending to address them is critical to his kabuki.

novaculus on September 17, 2014 at 4:00 PM

I see you are not disagreeing the premise of my beautifully succinct point. In a lot of ways Obama has been way more hawkish than Coward Reagan ever was….

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 3:46 PM

You would be funny if you weren’t so retarded.

Obama’s half-assed interventions make Raegan look like the biggest warmonger on the planet. And he’s managed to slash our military capacity while he was at it. Raegan at his dumbest (which is far more intelligent than you) wouldn’t trade army bullets for government cheese handed to ugly welfare mommas.

LawfulGood on September 17, 2014 at 4:01 PM

hmmm maybe if your hero Ronald Reagan did something about all the embassy bombings during his 8 years in office instead of surrendering to Islamists… We could have sent a message 30 years ago that our soil was off limits.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Reagan did do something about…that’s the Conservative version of the Memory Hole.

In a lot of ways Obama has been way more hawkish than Coward Reagan ever was….

Maybe you’re thinking of the drone attacks? I often wonder about those as well. On the surface I’m fine with those as they killed terrorists. But since I can’t think of a darn thing other than that that Obummer has done for America in a positive way, I’m left wondering how these attacks benefited him politically. Because political and financial gain are the only things that motivate this crook.

As far as Reagan being a “coward” that’s BS. From what I’ve read Reagan didn’t want any of our troops in Lebanon in the first place and he felt that the Middle East was a quagmire and that there were no solutions-therefore, America should not be involved.

But, if he didn’t OK the use of U.S. military forces there, he would have been lambasted by both the Socialist Europeans who were going to right all wrongs over there through typical U.N. mission passivity, and over here by the Israel First crowd.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM

hmmm maybe if your hero Ronald Reagan did something about all the embassy bombings during his 8 years in office instead of surrendering to Islamists… We could have sent a message 30 years ago that our soil was off limits.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 3:32 PM

So what do you think about Bill Clinton ignoring the attacks on the WTC in 1993?

How about the attacks on the embassies in Africa in 1998?

How about the attacks on the USS Cole in 2000?

GFY, you ignorant troll.

HumpBot Salvation on September 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM

I see you are not disagreeing the premise of my beautifully succinct point. In a lot of ways Obama has been way more hawkish than Coward Reagan ever was….

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Well, other than the fact that those who blew up the consulate in Libya are still walking about.

HumpBot Salvation on September 17, 2014 at 4:13 PM

“HumpBot Salvation on September 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM”

um, maybe you don’t understand how history works baby Einstein, but I believe 1983 came before any of the mentioned dates you were referring to. Or maybe if George HW Bush didn’t put troops in the Holy Land to get oil we wouldn’t have had the Cole or the African bombings or both WTC attacks. Learn history before you type.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 4:21 PM

“HumpBot Salvation on September 17, 2014 at 4:13 PM”

Yeah, we’ll get them. It took time but we got Bin laden. Defeatist.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 4:24 PM

… But since I can’t think of a darn thing other than that that Obummer has done for America in a positive way, I’m left wondering how these attacks benefited him politically. Because political and financial gain are the only things that motivate this crook…

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Drone attacks helped Obama personally and politically by:

1) Allowing him to pose as a defender of our national security without actually dealing with the broader threats of Islamist terrorism or putting more troops on the ground.

2) Eliminating the need to find something to do with terrorist unlawful combatant prisoners. Better dead than in Gitmo!

Of course, we lose valuable intelligence that could be recovered from prisoners. But that would open Obama up to criticism every time one of the savages had his cookies withheld to encourage him to share what he knew. Trying to bring them into the country and turn them over to Eric Holder was tried but many of his own party couldn’t stomach that.

3) The man is a raging narcissist. I can’t think of anything more gratifying to such a character’s sense of self-importance than to personally wield the power of life and death.

novaculus on September 17, 2014 at 4:29 PM

um, maybe you don’t understand how history works baby Einstein, but I believe 1983 came before any of the mentioned dates you were referring to. Or maybe if George HW Bush didn’t put troops in the Holy Land to get oil we wouldn’t have had the Cole or the African bombings or both WTC attacks. Learn history before you type.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 4:21 PM

So no comment on Clinton, eh? Figured as much. Interesting the attack in 1993 was actually on US Soil and not an embassy.

So what are your thoughts on the takeover of the US embassy in Iran in 1979? How about the attacks on the US embassies in Pakistan and Libya in 1979. if only Carter had sent a message to those islamists.

Or maybe if George HW Bush didn’t put troops in the Holy Land to get oil we wouldn’t have had the Cole or the African bombings or both WTC attacks.

OMG. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

You’re an idiot.

And funny all of a sudden OliverB the anti-Semite is claiming we should have blown up hezbollah in the 1980’s.

And now his reasoning is that we should leave potential terrorists alone because we didn’t do anything about them in the 80’s and it’s Reagan’s fault.

Yeah, mental midget..you’re a fukking moron. GFY troll.

HumpBot Salvation on September 17, 2014 at 4:34 PM

novaculus on September 17, 2014 at 4:29 PM

Interesting…thank you for your views on the matter.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 17, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Yeah, we’ll get them. It took time but we got Bin laden. Defeatist.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 4:24 PM

And it only took his handlers THREE WEEKS to convince him to pull the trigger. Most Americans would have approved that in what? 5 seconds?

Bummer of a Buffoon you’ve got there!

dominigan on September 17, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Obviously you cannot handle reason so you must resort to calling me an anti-Semite. Obviously, after 79′ our policy should have changed Reagan was to dumb to learn the lesson… Especially in 1967 when the Benghazi Embassy burned down because of Israel’s aggression.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 4:59 PM

r maybe if George HW Bush didn’t put troops in the Holy Land to get oil we wouldn’t have had the Cole or the African bombings or both WTC attacks. Learn history before you type.

OliverB

And those damn women who wear short skirts have only themselves to blame if they get raped.

Yeah, mental midget..you’re a fukking moron. GFY troll.

HumpBot Salvation

It didn’t take this ignorant lib long to hang himself, did it, lol?

xblade on September 17, 2014 at 4:59 PM

hmmm maybe if your hero Ronald Reagan did something about all the embassy bombings during his 8 years in office instead of surrendering to Islamists… We could have sent a message 30 years ago that our soil was off limits.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Reagan was dealing with a Cold War superpower, tearing down iron curtains and freeing people from oppression. Btw, how’s Obummer doing with Russia, comrade? Pulled out of the Ukraine yet, or is Obumbler still impotent in topics like foreign diplomacy?

dominigan on September 17, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Obviously you cannot handle reason so you must resort to calling me an anti-Semite. Obviously, after 79′ our policy should have changed Reagan was to dumb to learn the lesson… Especially in 1967 when the Benghazi Embassy burned down because of Israel’s aggression.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Your previous comments are what make you an anti-Semite.

So again, how should our policy have changed in the 1990’s because Reagan didn’t bomb Iran (you know..where hezbollah and other terrorist groups originated). Are you saying Clinton was too dumb to learn the lessons that Reagan should have learned?

And in 1967 Israel was responding to terrorist attacks by the PLO..kind of like you suggested Reagan should have done.

Do you have a flow chart to keep track of all your contradictory idiotic statements?

Are you married to foolrepublica by any chance?

HumpBot Salvation on September 17, 2014 at 5:08 PM

“Telling our Sunni “allies” to fight their own battles is gooooood politics…Rand’s take on it has immense populist appeal in a war-weary country. He should stick with it and build on it.”

You bet. Look how well it worked out for The Won. And how well it’s worked out back here in the real world, where we deal with real things, like the Arab Spring and ISIS and Syria and Libya.

Let’s do more of that. What could possibly go wrong.

Recon5 on September 17, 2014 at 5:18 PM

RAnd Paul is really useful to his country as a senator. Let’s see what he can do if he has a Republican Senate.

Fleuries on September 17, 2014 at 5:30 PM

“HumpBot Salvation on September 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM”

um, maybe you don’t understand how history works baby Einstein, but I believe 1983 came before any of the mentioned dates you were referring to. Or maybe if George HW Bush didn’t put troops in the Holy Land to get oil we wouldn’t have had the Cole or the African bombings or both WTC attacks. Learn history before you type.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 4:21 PM

“The Holy Land”? Which Holy Land?

I don’t recall troops in Israel during Bush 41.

I think your Freudian is slipping.

Buck Farky on September 17, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Obviously you cannot handle reason so you must resort to calling me an anti-Semite. Obviously, after 79′ our policy should have changed Reagan was to dumb to learn the lesson… Especially in 1967 when the Benghazi Embassy burned down because of Israel’s aggression.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 4:59 PM

What should our policy have changed to after ’79? Why should it have changed then?

Buck Farky on September 17, 2014 at 5:36 PM

RAnd Paul is really useful to his country as a senator. Let’s see what he can do if he has a Republican Senate.

Fleuries on September 17, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Step 1…

JohnGalt23 on September 17, 2014 at 5:49 PM

“The Holy Land”? Which Holy Land?

I don’t recall troops in Israel during Bush 41.

I think your Freudian is slipping.

Buck Farky on September 17, 2014 at 5:34 PM”

obviously you have a wretched case of Ethnocentrism. I bet you have a map of the world that looks like a trailer park in Mississippi or some hell hole like that and a dot across the Gulf of Mexico that says Jerusalem.

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 5:57 PM

“The Holy Land”? Which Holy Land?

I don’t recall troops in Israel during Bush 41.

I think your Freudian is slipping.

Buck Farky on September 17, 2014 at 5:34 PM

I suppose the muzz would call Soddy Arabia ‘the holy land’?

slickwillie2001 on September 17, 2014 at 6:31 PM

Obama has been way more hawkish than Coward Reagan ever was….

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 3:46 PM

How so? Just because he enjoys picking out drone targets and watching the videos of the targets being hit (while holding hands with Reggie in the dark) does not make him “hawkish”.

And what makes you think that Reagan was a coward?

Solaratov on September 17, 2014 at 8:30 PM

OliverB on September 17, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Btw…you’re an idiot.

Solaratov on September 17, 2014 at 8:31 PM

If it was wrong not to protect the Benghazi consulate, it’s wrong not to protect the one in Kurdistan

…AND it’s also wrong not to protect our own citizens in all 57* states from being invaded and overrun by armed invaders (aka ‘illegals’)!!

(*Obamarithmetic)

landlines on September 17, 2014 at 9:35 PM