Passing for the moment the wisdom of the foreign policy Senator Paul is proposing, we note that the shrillness of his warnings against war are bizarre at a moment when the president — with no meaningful opposition from Congress — has completely withdrawn U.S. troops from Iraq, allowed his intention to withdraw almost completely (or perhaps completely) from Afghanistan to be leaked, refused to support Syrian rebels in any meaningful way, removed the U.S. from playing any significant role in the unraveling of Egypt, and indicated his intention to reduce the American military dramatically. He has allowed Iran to pass so many “red lines” in its pursuit of nuclear-weapons capability that it is hard to imagine what line he would not allow Tehran to cross. America’s foreign policy today is hardly one of militaristic, imperialistic determination to intervene. Apart from the evil “neocons” — virtually none of whom, it should be noted, have advocated attacking Iran, invading Syria or Yemen, or launching other adventures that Senator Paul seems so to fear — it is hard to understand against whom the senator is arguing. …

The United States has an interest in the outcome of that fight, since Salafist ideology calls for our conversion or destruction after the righteous Muslim community has been reestablished. And, of course, the ideology practiced by Osama bin Laden called for attacks on the U.S. as a priority part of this insurgency, since he believed that our support to “apostate” regimes was the principal obstacle on the path to righteousness within the Muslim world. The Muslim community will reject and defeat this manifestation of brutal, self-righteous heresy, as it has before. But it is a fallacy to claim either that the U.S. cannot help or that the course of this conflict does not matter to Americans. It matters a great deal because its price will be paid in blood, including American blood, whether we consciously participate or not.