Rand Paul: A Brief History of Misbegotten U.S. Intervention in the Arab World. Including the Next One in Syria.


Daily Beast

Update: Those "good" Syrian rebels Sen. McCain met with? They're apparently kidnappers of Lebanese Shi'ite pilgrims.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) takes to the web pages of CNN.com to caution against facile arming of Syrian rebels. Snippets:

The situation in Syria is certainly dire. At least 70,000 people have died, and al Qaeda is making confirmed inroads into the country. No one wants to see Syria become a bastion of extremism. But like other American interventions in the past, U.S. involvement could actually help the extremists.

Paul gives a quick tour of recent interventions in Iraq and Libya. He notes that the U.S.—under Republicans and Democrats alike—have often reneged on promises and created more problems than they solved. For instance, in 2009, various senators pushed for reconciliation with Qaddafi and Obama himself agreed. Then:

By 2011, President Obama was arming Libyan rebels and ordering airstrikes to overthrow Gadhafi. Some of the president's most vocal supporters were the same Republicans who traveled to Libya two years before to help Libya's strongman acquire military equipment. Sen. McCain said of the Libyan rebels: "I have met with these brave fighters, and they are not al Qaeda. … To the contrary: They are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation. We should help them do it."

We did help them, something I opposed on the Senate floor as an unconstitutional overreach by the executive branch. We now have reason to believe that the Libyan rebels did contain elements of al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists.

Whole thing here. 

Read it as Sen. John McCain regains his maverickiness by saying our weapons will only help "the right people" and The Syrian Transition Support Act wends its way through Congress. But don't worry, because we will only helping good people overseas, and lord knows we've really neglected the Middle East over the past couple of days.

In February, Paul gave a major foreign policy speech at the Heritage Foundation. "Containment and Radical Islam" laid out a vision for engagement that was neither stupidly isolationist nor stupidly militaristic. Which is to say, it doesn't serve what's become the U.S. status quo over the past many decades. But to paraphrase Gandhi talking about Western civilization, wouldn't a realistic, humble foreign policy be a good idea?