Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted the Obama administration and also took an early shot at potential 2016 rival Hillary Clinton for what he called the United States’ contributing to the rise of the Islamic State by providing arms to Syrian rebels battling Bashar Assad’s regime.
“To interventionists like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we would caution that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria created a haven for the Islamic State,” Paul said in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal published Thursday. “We are lucky Ms. Clinton didn’t get her way and the Obama administration did not bring about regime change in Syria. That new regime might well be ISIS.”
The Obama administration, which has been carrying out airstrikes against the Sunni militant group in Iraq, is considering expanding strikes into parts of Syria, where the Islamic State has also taken hold. This comes nearly a year after the administration pulled back from striking Syria following Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people.
“Those who say we should have done more to aid the Syrian rebels have it backwards,” Paul wrote. “Ms. Clinton was also eager to shoot first in Syria before asking some important questions. Her successor John Kerry was no better, calling the failure to strike Syria a ‘Munich moment.’”
Paul was clear that he didn’t support the Assad regime and said it was no ally to the United States, but he said weakening the regime also weakened its ability to combat the Islamic State, which makes up one of several rebel factions fighting Assad.
“A reasonable degree of foresight should be a prerequisite for holding high office. So should basic hindsight. This administration has neither,” Paul continued. “But the same is true of hawkish members of my own party. Some said it would be ‘catastrophic’ if we failed to strike Syria. What they were advocating for then – striking down Assad’s regime – would have made our current situation even worse, as it would have eliminated the only regional counterweight to ISIS.”
He added, “Our Middle East policy is unhinged, flailing about to see who to act against next, with little regard to consequences.”
“It seems the only thing both sides of the flawed debate agree on is that ‘something’ must be done,” Paul continued. “It is the only thing they ever agree on. But the problem is, we did do something. We aided those who contributed to the rise of the Islamic State.”
Paul said those who called for U.S. intervention in Syria last year “have been proven foolish now,” and called for more restraint, saying the U.S. cannot “solve every problem” around the world.
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