Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that his foreign policy has been perfectly consistent, despite criticism for "seemingly contradictory" views when it comes to the Islamic State — opposing intervening in foreign conflicts while supporting efforts to defeat the extremist group.
Paul said on Glenn Beck's radio program that he's for protecting American interests at home and abroad, but that doesn't mean America should intervene in the Syrian civil war or arm the Syrian rebels as part of its strategy to combat the Islamic State.
"My position is the same as it has always been," Paul said. "I've been pretty harsh on Hillary Clinton, saying she didn't provide adequate security [in Benghazi]. "There was security requested for six months leading up to the tragedy in Benghazi and the killing of our ambassador. ... It would be a mistake for me to say, 'Oh, well, we don't need to do anything about it [in Iraq]. It's just a consulate. I think that would go against everything I've been saying for the last year."
Paul said that defending American interests with airstrikes and intelligence support does not mean he supports involving the nation in the Syrian civil war.
"I've never been in favor of arming any of the Islamic rebels in Syria," he said. "Most of the arms that we've sent in there -- even when we've allegedly sent them to moderate rebels -- have wound up in the hands of ISIS. ISIS either takes them, or they're inadvertently given to ISIS. And I think that everything we've done to try to fight Assad weakens his ability to wipe out ISIS, and makes ISIS stronger."
Paul said that if President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "had had their way, and some of the hawks in our party had had their way, and we'd have bombed Assad last year -- who would be in Damascus ruling all of Syria now? In all likelihood, ISIS."
"We need to get away from these people who are indiscriminate and unthinking about foreign policy, who believe that there's never been a war that they didn't like, and they want to have troops on the ground in 15 countries," Paul said. "That is a failed philosophy. We also need to understand that every time we have toppled a secular dictator -- whether it be in Iraq or Libya or Egypt or Syria -- every time a secular dictator has been toppled, they have been replaced by chaos and radical Islam."
Paul reiterated that the Islamic State is a threat to America and must be defeated, but arming Syrian rebels is not the way to do it.
"I favor airstrikes in coordination, but I think the battle on the ground needs to be fought by those who live there," he said. "I think the Iraqis need to step up, quit running, and they need to defend their country. I'm sick and tired of the Saudis sitting on their haunches, funding radical Islam and doing nothing. I'd like to see the Saudis at the front of the line in the first round of fighting, as well as the last round of fighting."
"Qataris, Kuwaitis, Turks, they all need to fight," Paul continued. "I don't want to hear why the Saudis aren't going to fight. I want to hear exactly what the Saudis are going to do and I want to see them stepping up on the front lines. The same with the Iraqis -- I'm sick and tired of them running. I'm sick and tired of giving billions of dollars to see them run away from a fight. So I want to see them on the ground fighting ISIS, hand to hand, and I'm willing to support that with air support, with intelligence, with some weaponry in Iraq. But I'm not willing to support the so-called moderate rebels."
The bottom line, Paul said: "As long as the consulate's there, we have to defend the consulate and the embassy."
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