ISIS

Rand Paul: "If it was wrong not to protect the consulate in Benghazi, then it's wrong not to protect the consulate in Erbil."

Explains rationale for military action in Iraq.

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In an interview with Reason.com yesterday, libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and a vocal critic of Barack Obama's and George W. Bush's foreign policy, clarified his support of limited American military intervention in Iraq.

While the beheadings of U.S. citizens James Foley and Steven Sotloff are a factor, he says, Paul is especially insistent that protecting the U.S. consulate in Erbil, Iraq is a major cause for ongoing concern. Erbil is near Mosul, a city overrun by ISIS with relative ease, he says, and it's of paramount importance that the United States protect its diplomatic personnel in Iraq.

"If it was wrong not to protect the consulate in Benghazi, then it's wrong not to protect the consulate in Erbil," he says.

Paul has been an outspoken critic of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama adminstration for failing to provide effective defense of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In 2012, militants overran the consulate there and killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to the newly liberated country. In the past, Paul has gone so far as to say that Clinton's failure to take Benghazi's security situaton more seriously and her dismissive response to the investigation of the deaths of Amb. Chris Stevens and others should prevent her from holding office again.

"Being a non-interventionist doesn't mean that you never intervene" militarily, Paul tells Reason.com, explaining his support for military action against ISIS fighters in Iraq. Paul has been called an "isolationist" by members of his own party and Democrats while facing criticism from libertarians after calling for action against ISIS in the wake of the jihadist group's beheading of two American journalists.

In a widely read September 4, 2014 column for Time, Paul wrote, "I support destroying the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militarily."

Paul repeatedly drew comparisons between the Libya and Iraq situations, saying that it would be "hypocritical" not to insist on effective defense of U.S. personnel in Iraq. "There's an argument to be made that they [diplomatic personnel] shouldn't be there," he says.

Paul has been widely accused of changing his positions on foreign policy and other issues. In the conversation with Reason.com, he emphasized that there are two key components to foreign policy discussions that he has always articulated and stands by.

First, he stresses that interventions must follow constitutional rules about warmaking, including explicit votes on authorization of the use of military force. "That rule is absolute," he says and must be followed in all situations (with exemptions for immediate response to direct or imminent attacks as discussed under the War Powers Resolution). He reiterated his opposition to unilateral decisions made by President Obama to deploy military power without securing congressional authorization.

Second, he says that defense policy should protect America's vital interests. But, he says, there are legitimate questions over what constitute vital interests.

"People will draw different lines," he says, which is "precisely why these things need to be discussed and voted on publicly in Congress." Some people might say that military action is only called for when the homeland is directly threatened or attacked, he notes, while others would make cases for the need to protect American ships, properties, embassies, and legitimate presences in foreign countries. 

If the continuining resolution to fund the government past the midterm elections contains new funding for American military action in the Middle East, he says he will call for any supplemental funding to be broken out in a separate vote.

He remains adamant that the United States should not be militarily involved in Syria. 

Last year, Sen. Paul was widely viewed as leading the successful opposition to President Obama's plan to intervene on behalf of opponents of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war. He remains highly skeptical of the Syrian rebels and says he will give a "signifcant speech" against arming so-called moderates who are fighting the Assad regime.

"Basically, everything we give to the rebels ends up with ISIS," he says, and has the effect of propping up the Assad regime. Recent news reports of a truce between Syrian rebels and ISIS have been challenged, as have reports that moderates gave journalist Sotloff over to ISIS shortly before he was killed.

Paul stood by the comments he made in "Containment and Radical Islam," a February 2013 speech at the Heritage Foundation. That speech argues that a realist foreign policy is neither "imperliastic not isolationist" and seeks to engage the world through a variety of measures, including trade, cultural exchange, political pressure, and military action. In it, Paul called for a fuller understanding of Cold War theorist George F. Kennan's "containment" theory, which has often been reduced to simply confronting enemies via miltary action.

In yesterday's interview, he stressed that beyond forcing congressional action on any future actions in Iraq, it is imperative to understand that the fight in Iraq and the broader Middle East has to be conducted—and paid for—by the people in the region, including Iraqis, Turks, Qataris, Kuwaitis, and Saudis.

NEXT: "If it was wrong not to protect the consulate in Benghazi, then it's wrong not to protect the consulate in Erbil."

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  1. Why don’t we pluck our diplomatic personnel out of that hellhole?

    1. We need martyrs to justify another war in Iraq.

    2. What Paul said.

      I’ve proposed this, but it evidently makes me an “isolationist”, which apparently is worse than Hitler.

      Whatever – get ’em out if they’re in trouble…

      1. “Paul.” or “Rand Paul”? Pedantics world-wide want to know, for sufficiently narrow definitions of “wide”.

        1. “Paul the H and R commenter under whose comment I made my comment. I meant to comment on neither Rand nor Ron Paul – just Paul @ reason.com.”

    3. Maybe somebody should inform the mafioso who run our world governments that we have a thing called skype now. You’d think you’d could have diplomatic intercourse over the intertoobs. If a country is so backward that they don’t have it, diplomacy is probably isn’t on the table anyway.

    4. Well, we can do that every time that there’s a less-than-adequate government in the region — but once we do, we really shouldn’t be hearing from libertarians that the way to engage countries like Iran and N Korea is to re-engage diplomatic relations and establish trade, both of which require diplomatic personnel operating in those countries.

      Any country which would openly disrespect the embassy and its members has committed an act of war. Grading on a curve for Islamic savages does not invite peace, but rather further acts of war on their part.

      1. As long as our diplomats are welcome in a country, that’s fine. But when it’s clear they’re not, either explicitly or implicitly, pulling them out is a fair solution.

        I’d say that if the recognized government has collapsed, and there’s a clear and present danger to the diplomats by the makeshift powers that appear to have military control, again, pulling them out is a prudent move.

      2. Oh, and let me be clear…

        IF we haven’t pulled them out and they’re attacked, a military response is also justified.

        1. Fair enough; I’d agree with that.

  2. What? Protect a Gerbil? What’s Richard Gere got to do w…wait. What?

    Oh. ERBIL.

    Never mind…

    /Emily Littela

    1. I have it on good authority that Emily and Roseanne Roseannadanna were lovers. Only Dr. Frankenstein was allowed into their boudoir. Of course, the three would only get busy to the thumping of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way…

    2. Lemmiwinks! No!!

  3. “Being a non-interventionist doesn’t mean that you never intervene”

    Of course not. It means you only intervene when you want to.

    1. Um, no. That’s what interventionist means. Non-interventionist means you establish some principles and then abide by them. Though in Rand Paul’s case it seems his guiding principle is getting elected, just like any other politician.

      1. It’s sad that (semi-)principled politicians have to say unprincipled things to get elected, but voters are fickle and uninformed.

        Is a guiding principle of getting elected such a bad thing, if it allows for more Libertarian ideals in government? Even if they are not absolute or perfect ideals?

        Taking principled stances has already bit Rand Paul in the ass, like when he said he would have opposed the civil rights act. He would have for truly egalitarian reasons, but all people heard was “I’m a racist!”

  4. He is right that we should protect embassies and diplomatic staff. Protecting one embassy in one city doesn’t require a long-term military commitment, which is what the President seems to be asking for and likely to get. In fact, the most important requirement for protecting embassy staff is an evacuation plan. I’m still not clear on what, exactly, Paul thinks is appropriate here. Or what changed between now and a month or two ago when he was skeptical of any intervention.

  5. What he’s saying here is pretty reasonable. I think he’s wrong in his assessment of the relative costs and benefits. But, the framework generally makes sense. Moreover, it fits closely with what I’ve argued for a while now – Paul is a realist, rather than a principled non-interventionist. Logically, given the level of hyper-intervention dominating U.S. foreign policy discussions in recent years, that leaves a lot of common ground for the two camps to work together. But, painting him as a “sell-out” or “warmonger” because he doesn’t share his father’s foreign policy views doesn’t do much to advance that end.

    1. paul shares everyones foreign policy
      first this side and then that side

      1. Josh, how was your cake?

  6. What about just closing the consulate in Erbil?

    In fact, what about closing the consulates in every Middle Eastern country (including Egypt and Israel)?

  7. It shows what a complicated thing it is, foreign policy. Should we help the helpless? Compassion in government is a dangersous thing! It is interesting to watch Mr. Paul, who I agree with many, maybe even most, of his ideas, try to parse those ideas in a way that might allow him to be elected. Even if he succeeds, doing the right thing will surely get unelected! I’m afraid only a ‘reset’ is going to allow for sound policy get even a nod.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Am I a libertarian?

  8. Paul has all the qualifications to become our next President of The United States. First of all, he is an Ophthalmologist, which gives him the vision to be a naval expert, military genius, and great statesman immediately, although he is only a junior senator from a Hill Billy State. And most important, he is White. We certainly don’t need any more dusky skinned people in the West Wing, now do we? Finally, I really like the man’s hairdo. And of course, he is libertarian-leaning, which also means that he can also lean whatever way the political winds blow at any given time. Yes, Paul is the man for the job. He’s probably just as good as any other career politician out there who is going to run in 2016. And if he makes it, it won’t really matter if his administrations fucks the country up even more than it already is. After all, his camp followers will think that whatever he does is just wonderful. Right?

    1. I have to give this bit of trolling a C-.

      Too wordy for the limited number of assertions it makes.

      1. You’re being too kind.

        1. DesigNate,

          Too bad you don’t like my post. Guess you will just have to suck it up, won’t you?

      2. That’s some serious grade inflation.

        1. Loki,

          Have a nice day, scrotum brain.

          1. Turd.Burglar.

            1. JPyrate,

              Two word posts are about right for those of your ilk. You have a nice evening, you fucking moron.

              1. Turd.Burglar.

      3. tarran,

        You must be a Rand Paul camp follower. Otherwise, you might be able to see some satire in my post. Anyway, why don’t you post a comment praising your hero. If you do, then I can give you a grade. Anyway, thanks for taking the time from your hobby of eating some old whore’s clap infested pussy, in order to give me a grade of C, which in your case stands for Cu-t
        Have a nice day, you fucking dimwit.

        1. Turd.Burglar.

          1. Fuck off.

            1. Needs more asschunk.

    2. Yes, he is white. That is his main appeal. Oh, and also the hairdo. You nailed it, as always, On the Road to Mandacity.

      1. Is this a comment, or did you just fart Kure’l?

        Have a nice evening, you stupid twit.

        1. Turd.Burglar.

    3. He’s better at being an eye doctor that Obama the Constitutional Scholar is at understanding the Constitution.

      1. THAN.. when comparing two things, the word is THAN, not THAT!

        “…he’s better THAN Obama at this…”

        Sorry, I’m just a high school grad, but that one bugs me to no end. The ghost of Sister Mary Sadist is patting me on the head right now. Better than ruler on the knuckles, let me tell you.

      2. this isn’t the fox news website, goober

          1. Turd.Burglar.

            1. Eat shit.

              1. Last.Post ?

      3. Last American Hero

        Which means that Paul should stick to being an eye doctor.

        Anyway, Obama leaves office in 2017, and maybe you will get a President you like.

    4. Hillary has all the qualifications to become our next President of The United States. First of all, she is a lawyer, which gives him the vision to be a naval expert, military genius, and great statesman immediately, although she was only a carpet bagging junior senator from a Hill Billy State. And most important, she is White. We certainly don’t need any more dusky skinned people in the West Wing, now do we? Finally, I really like the woman’s hairdo. And of course, she is left-leaning, which also means that she can also lean whatever way the political winds blow at any given time. Yes, Hillary is the woman for the job. She’s probably just as good as any other career politician out there who is going to run in 2016. And if she makes it, it won’t really matter if her administrations fucks the country up even more than it already is. After all, her camp followers will think that whatever she does is just wonderful. Right?

      1. You’re forgetting her copulation with a popular president. That goes a long way.

        Clearly, prior experience and qualifications are what everyone uses to evaluate their own preferences for president. They never use it as a double-standard with which, based on their preconceived preferences, they can fawn over their preferred candidate, while belittling their opponents. No, it’s always an even-handed evaluation, resulting in an intelligent choice.

        1. You’re forgetting her copulation with a popular president.

          Assumes facts not in evidence.

          1. I propose one of us go all Andrew Sullivan on Hillary’s vagina.

            I nominate Sugarfree!

            1. Careful, I hear terrorists snuck a snuke up her snizz.

        2. “They never use it as a double-standard…”

          So, you don’t think this is exactly what the Right did with Obama in 2008? You know, Brian, there’s no combat troops in Iraq, right, and that Obama made a forceful reiteration of that fact this morning. So, I’m a little confused as to what the gnashing of teeth is in these latest articles at Reason since Obama is, in the current political climate, one of the most dovish politicians when it comes to Iraq. Is mr. Koch coming for a visit? Look busy, everyone and no more articles from Sheldon richman.

          1. american socialist:

            So, you don’t think this is exactly what the Right did with Obama in 2008?

            Of course they did, AmSoc. That’s why I said “everyone”. If you want to read in some preferential treatment for the right, go ahead. Creating hobgoblins is a pass-time for a lot of people. Why bother arguing with a real person, when you can argue with the one in your head?

            Brian, there’s no combat troops in Iraq, right, and that Obama made a forceful reiteration of that fact this morning. So, I’m a little confused as to what the gnashing of teeth is in these latest articles at Reason since Obama is, in the current political climate, one of the most dovish politicians when it comes to Iraq.

            You’ll have to tell me, because I really don’t bother reading the stuff. Reading about the possible political and military maneuvers of our commanders-in-chief is about as interesting and libertarian as studying the power plays of a crime family: it’s already so far off-base that it’s a waste of time.

            Are libertarians now supporting a massive invasion of Iraq? If so, they’re morons.

            OK, now take responsibility for all the crazy shit socialism has thrown at us in the last 100 years. Your turn.

            1. “OK, now take responsibility for all the crazy shit socialism has thrown at us in the last 100 years. Your turn.”

              You mean the government that defeated European fascism, launched yuri Gagarin into orbit, rose from a backwater into a economic and military superpower, imposed policies that increased literacy from 30 to 99%.

              Or are we talking about its Western rival– European socialism? That model gave us 40 hr work weeks, lavish maternity and paternity leaves, universal health care, free post secondary education, societies that generate 20-30% of their power from renewables, etc. I’ll sing the praises of the latter and at least acknowledge, in the case of the former, that I thought Ronald Reagan and Leonev Brezhnev were full of shit.

              1. LOL.

                american socialist:

                You mean the government that defeated European fascism

                Thank god the socialists defeated the nazis.

                launched yuri Gagarin into orbit,

                Thank god the soviets launched yuri into space before they collapsed. Where would we be without him? You might as well praise the Egyptian pharaohs for building the pyramids with slave labor. I mean, pyramids! Awesome!

                rose from a backwater into a economic and military superpower

                The economy was characterised by state control of investment, public ownership of industrial assets, and during the last 20 years of its existence, pervasive corruption and socioeconomic stagnation.

                imposed policies that increased literacy from 30 to 99%.

                Wow. They managed to teach people to read, like no capitalist country ever has. Patting yourself on the back for literacy is like patting yourself on the back for most of the population not being incarcerated. Exactly which backwater hellholes are you trying to compare yourself to with that one?

                1. That model gave us 40 hr work weeks,

                  Henry Ford created the 40-hour work week.

                  lavish maternity and paternity leaves

                  Clearly the foundation upon which civilization is built.

                  universal health care

                  That they constantly bitch about having to control the costs of, as dictated by bureaucrats.

                  free post secondary education

                  Because everyone time I see an Occupy Wall Street protester whining about his lack of career options with his PhD in 18th century Polish dancing, I think, “You know, why did he have to pay for that? I should have paid for that for him! Along with living expenses!” That’s just rational socialist resource allocation, right there.

                  societies that generate 20-30% of their power from renewables

                  Going nation by nation in the EU is like going state to state. The EU, as a nation, is much more comparable to the US, and they’re not all switching to wind power.

                  Wikipedia:
                  Renewable energy in the United States accounted for 13.2 percent of the domestically produced electricity in 2012
                  By 2012 the EU realized a 14.1% share of energy from renewable sources.

                  Wow. A big 1% more power. Such environmentally moral power houses.

                  Anyway, you’re skipping the highlights of National Socialism, Chinese Socialism, and Stalin socialism, which is measured by human rights violations.

                  1. “Henry ford created the 40 hour work week”

                    Really? Is that what they are teaching in Murray Rothbard school these days? Awesome. I thought the reasons we get to see our kids at night have to do with this… http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-hour_day

                    Norman Thomas probably used his time to tend to his killing field.

              2. What the hell is a 40-hr work week? I.haven’t seen one of those in like a decade. But I also haven’t seen a mortgage bill for my house in a few years. Maybe folks o the left need to stop trying to social justice money from others into their accounts and instead get off their duffs and actually work.

          2. You are so fucking stupid if you think there are no combat troops in Iraq.

      2. What English Composition course did you fail to pass?

        1. Turd.Burglar.

          1. You really do have a limited vocabulary don’t you?

            1. You and craiginmass need to find each other, out there, somewhere, and screw each other silly.

              1. Hi There Brian,

                As usual, you have nothing new to say to me, except of course your usual bullshit. What you really don’t like are my opinions. You are probably a Rand Paul follower, so anything derogatory about your hero probably irritates you. Of course you don’t like my rebuttals to all your fellow morons who deserve what they get from me in the form of insults, BECAUSE they can’t refute my opinions with any intelligent comments. Take the fucking moron JPyrate. All he keeps saying/repeating is “Turd.Burglar” like the dimwit that he must be. Maybe you need to get together with craiginmass so you can bugger each other silly.

                Have a nice evening, asshole. Go fuck yourself.

                1. Turd.Burglar.

        2. “Which”, not, “What”, genius.

          You truly are impervious to irony.

    5. Poor old Walter Mitty is growing senile.

      1. Anus Mouse,

        Too bad you are so fucking stupid that you can never post anymore than a few feeble words of protest at my posts. Anyway, pretend my posts are suppositories, and then ram them up your asshole.

        Get back to the trailer court with your retard friends.

    6. Turd.Burglar.

      1. Did you just fart?

        1. Last post ?

  9. This administration’s decisions simply reflect their worldview, there are important people, and the proles, care to guess who makes the distinction?

  10. til I looked at the draft which said $4311 , I did not believe that my father in law woz like realy taking home money in their spare time at their computer. . there sisters neighbour had bean doing this for under thirteen months and just now repayed the mortgage on there cottage and bourt Fiat Multipla . visit this site right here…………..

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  11. Nick Gillespie…never shy to call out a GOPer or a Dem for their need to intervene overseas, but Rand Paul? Nah. Nick just gives us detail about Paul’s stance, and the reasons for it.

    Funny how Nick loses his tongue when it comes to Rand Paul, even if it means a military intervention overseas. Shill much?

  12. He has an interesting point with the consulate, but the rest of his column feels a lot like the rest of the republican party’s doublespeak on this issue: calling the president indecisive but he he shouldn’t do anything without congress, saying we need a clear goal but leaving his own goal ambiguous as protecting “national interests.”

    I really think if he comes out against this serious military action against ISIS he’d have a good shot at being the next president. People are sick of this constant war that is obviously not working, and I think it’s a winning issue (not that that is most important in deciding policy), someone should take it.

    1. Dead on. If the Obama administration is running this operation, disaster will follow. Look at Libya and Afghanistan, both wars Obama started or escalated, how are they going ?

      The military isn’t behind this one either, just watch General Dempsey before Congress, even those pols/Generals in the Pentagon can see this disaster approaching.

    2. You’d think the double digit IQ trolls on this site would just copy your effective critique, but they are so dim that they think their arguments are better.

  13. As far as I can tell we are at war with ISIS and Al queda. They declared war on us so whether we like it or not we are at war. One side can just refuse to fight but that won’t end well if the other side wants to fight. SO the question is when and where will we fight?

  14. There is nothing reasonable about his assertion that the consulate needs to be defended. If the consulate is at risk, you pull them out.

    This line of ‘reason’ could be used to justify an ‘intervention’ in any warn torn country in which Americans are present. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

    It’s becoming abundantly clear that Paul isn’t ready as a politician to even win the primary, let alone the election. I’m sorry, but it’s true. He is going to be under extra scrutiny and attacked from both sides. His positions are clearly trying to walk too fine a line. He’s bumbling his way through this all.

    I would still support him because it’s about the best chance for libertarian ideas to make gains in Washington, but let’s be frank about two things:
    1. He is absolutely not prepared to handle foreign policy of the strongest country on the planet. Perhaps he is humble enough to not use military power as a result, but he will be, at best, a marginal improvement over Obama in this regard and would likely cave to pressure on these ‘minor’ interventions.
    2. In order to win the Republican primary, he is going to have to skew more and more to the Republican mainstream.

    Obama can get away with things in his past because he had history on his side (in terms of his race – it’s just the reality) and an adoring media that agreed with his policies. Paul is going to get torn to shreds playing this game.

  15. Reason has left the building.

    There goes my last 0.01% chance of hope for Mr Paul.

    Yes, it was wrong to overthrow the government and murder the leader of Libya and then use the consulate in as a CIA base to funnel weapons to ISIS. Oops. Did we create this monster?

    1. This time we will fix it. Double or nothing!

  16. Sounds kind of like “I accidentally Benghazi. Was that wrong?”

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