“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most these arms were snatched up by ISIS,” Mr. Paul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Mr. Paul’s comments are likely to anger many Republicans and come at a time when responsibility for the Islamic State is a matter of debate. This month, a college student in Nevada told former Gov. Jeb Bush that President George W. Bush, his brother, created ISIS.
“ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya, they just wanted more of it,” he said. “Libya is a failed state. It’s a disaster.”
Team Hillary is probably already scrambling to get this into a campaign ad. Bernie Sanders may also be wise to spend some of his significantly more limited campaign cash on ads showcasing this statement.
Rand will be walking this back for the next several days, but what it shows is not only a worldview that is unlikely to win him many GOP primary votes but also the sort of adolescent petulance we’ve seen in him before.
As soon as Joe Scarborough mentions Lindesy Graham’s presumed argument that “ISIS exists because of people like Rand Paul,” Rand does what any good high school debate team captain would do: he flips the statement to argue that ISIS exists because of people like Lindsey Graham. It’s a rhetorical device, not a thoughtful argument.
Jindal, who is weighing his own GOP presidential run, blasted the Kentucky senator for saying on MSNBC that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party.”
“This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be commander-in-chief. We have men and women in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position,” Jindal said in a statement.
Paul’s chief strategist Doug Stafford responded Wednesday afternoon: “It’s ironic Gov. Jindal would level such a charge when he flip-flops on crucial issues like common core and national security, and he has cratered his own state’s economy and budget. Just last week, Gov. Jindal spoke out in support of Sen. Paul and announced he now opposes the NSA’s illegal and unnecessary domestic bulk data collection, after previously cheerleading for it.”
Top Jindal adviser Timmy Teepell defended the Louisiana governor late Wednesday afternoon, derisively pointing out that Paul is currently serving his first Senate term and comparing his experience to President Obama’s before he took office — the ultimate 2016 conservative burn.
“It’s astonishing that Sen. Paul will blame conservative Americans for the rise of ISIS but will hide behind a staffer rather than defend his comments. This was clearly not a gaffe,” wrote Teepell in response. “What we’ve learned today is that Sen. Paul is to the left of President Obama and Hillary Clinton on foreign policy. … Senator Paul is a one-term senator, with no executive experience, and we all know how that has worked out in the current administration.”
Newly-minted presidential candidate Rick Santorum today slammed fellow 2016 hopeful Rand Paul, who said he blames Republican hawks for the rise of terrorist group ISIS.
“I think that is just fundamentally a misunderstanding of the nature of the enemy we face,” Santorum said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.
“ISIS didn’t come about because of … the arms that America left behind. ISIS came about because they hate everything that we believe in and we stand for,” Santorum added. “I think the idea that we accept now that this tripe from the left that it’s our fault that ISIS exists — go back to the thousand-year history of Muslim expansionism, and look at some of the horrible things that were done to spread radical Islam. That is not something that America had anything to do with.”…
“I would expect to hear that from maybe Bernie Sanders. I don’t expect to hear that from someone running for the Republican nomination,” Santorum told Stephanopoulos.
Paul offered no proposal to counter Assad’s slaughter of his own civilians, which has been going on for years with the expressed approval of the Iranian regime. Many experts believe that without Iran’s backing, the Assad regime would quickly collapse…
Paul’s opinions fall on the fringe of his party when it comes to negotiating with the Ayatollah’s regime in Tehran. He has on multiple occasions openly supported negotiations with Tehran, while many within his party remain skeptical that the Mullahs are only at the table to exploit weakness within the Obama administration, as they seek to buy time for their race towards nuclear weapons proliferation…
While the atrocities committed by ISIS continue to shine brightest, Iran continues its quiet but rapid expansion of the radical ideology behind its Khomeinist revolution. The Mullahs now assert influence over four Arab capitals—Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa. The regime continues to finance terror operations through Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terror insurgencies. The Islamic Republic has even recently developed a foothold in the western hemisphere.
What will Rand do, if anything, to stop Iran?
Paul has a problem: He isn’t running for the Democratic nomination. And though Paul may think his Republican Party’s brand sucks, the primary voters don’t necessarily share his view that the party is too old and too white. His candidacy has so far failed to ignite — and, indeed, he seems to be fading as a force within the party…
Paul’s declining standing can be felt in Washington. Last week, he attempted to reprise his wildly successful 2013 filibuster, which caught fire on social media and forced party leaders to take notice. But this time Paul found indifference as he fought to limit government surveillance. As The Post’s Philip Bump reported, it got only about one-tenth of the Twitter attention that his first effort did. Television footage from the chamber caught Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) rolling his eyes as Paul spoke last week, and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who joined Paul’s previous filibuster, openly opposed him this time.
On CBS’s morning show Tuesday, Paul was asked to answer his Republican colleagues’ complaint that his 11-hour speech was really a performance aimed at selling his new book; “Fox & Friends” minutes later asked him to respond to the charge that he is a “misguided ideologue.”
Regardless of what you think of Paul’s approach to governance, his is not a strategy aimed at winning the support of even a plurality of Republican primary voters. It is increasingly unclear, however, if Paul is even interested in securing the GOP nod. The junior Kentucky senator seems to find himself more at home in liberal enclaves than he does in the Republican Party’s geographic heartland. A recent Times dispatch noted that Paul recently found himself warmly received in a manner not often reserved for Republicans in the liberal bastion of Manhattan. “Paul played to the crowd,” the report read, noting that his speech “had echoes of the messages of his father.” The Bluegrass State senator is equally eager to reach out to atypical Republican voters in places like the Bay Area. Paul’s decision to open an office near San Francisco in order to appeal to libertarians in the Silicon Valley last year was framed as an outreach effort when, in reality, it’s more likely constituency maintenance.
Rand Paul is no longer waging a broad-based campaign to win the Republican nomination. His candidacy looks more and more like a factional effort to compel the Republican Party to embrace the libertarian foreign policy prescriptions of retrenchment and disengagement; policies already espoused by the present occupant of the Oval Office and which must be defended by his party’s chosen successor, Hillary Clinton.
The promise of Rand Paul’s campaign was that it would build his father’s political base into a mainstream force that would shift the GOP in a libertarian direction. While Paul’s adherence to his principles, as dangerous as they are, is laudable, they render him as niche a candidate as his father ever was.
Paul easily has the better of the argument here, and he could have gone further in tracing the origins of ISIS to the invasion of Iraq and the chaos created by regime change. Jeb Bush’s fantasies aside, the group that we now know as ISIS or the Islamic State sprang from the Iraq war. The flourishing of jihadist groups such as ISIS is one of that war’s most baleful consequences, and it would not have happened if there had been no invasion. Furthermore, ISIS did benefit from the weapons that the U.S. provided to the Iraqi army, since the army melted away and left those weapons to be seized by the terrorist group. It has also acquired some of the weapons that the U.S. has provided to “moderate” rebel groups in Syria, which is just what critics of proposals to “arm the rebels” warned might happen. Jihadists that declared support for ISIS have made gains in Libya thanks in part to the 2011 U.S.-led intervention supported by most Republican hawks. Jindal has nothing to say about any of these claims because he can’t refute them, and so he is reduced to flinging insults and rehearsing tired propaganda lines. Jindal thinks he has proved that Paul has shown himself unfit for the presidency, but he has just reminded us once again why Jindal’s judgment on foreign policy shouldn’t be trusted.
The weakness of Jindal’s position is reflected in his robotic recitation of ideological slogans. Interventionist policies routinely have negative and destructive consequences, and asserting the virtue of “American strength” doesn’t change that. If Jindal were interested in moral reflection here, he would grapple with the dangerous effects caused by unnecessary wars and the grave costs that those wars have for both the U.S. and the other countries affected by them. Hawks believe these wars to be expressions of “moral clarity,” but this just reminds us that “moral clarity” is often code for justifying whatever aggressive policies the U.S. happens to pursue while refusing to take responsibility for the consequences of those policies.
As Jindal’s statement exemplifies, the GOP’s seemingly limitless supply of hawks have an unacknowledged problem that goes far beyond Rand Paul. Namely, they know what they’re against—weakness! ISIS! Iran! Putin!—but they continue to be maddeningly vague and even silent about what, concretely, they would have the United States do in a world that stubbornly refuses to bend to the will of Washington’s central planning. Absent specifics, the critique is mostly chest-puffing and name-calling circa 2003-04.