Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has definitely heard the criticism coming from some libertarians over his support of military action to fight ISIS, even as he is attempting to stand strong against more aggressive responses and the call to arm and train other Syrian rebels. That was the message from Paul when he stopped by Reason's Los Angeles office today briefly during a swing through the city.
Paul's response to the criticism is to make it clear that he's a guy for less foreign intervention, not none, even though it puts him at odds with his father, Ron Paul. His remarks were short and generally reiterated points he made earlier this week in an interview with Nick Gillespie (read here) and from his 45-minute Senate floor speech yesterday opposing funding for arms and training for Syrian rebels (read here).
He said that his call for a certain level of intervention against ISIS through military strikes is a direct result of intervention that he doesn't support, toppling secular foreign leaders, even if they are dictators. Doing so creates the kind of chaos in the Middle East that allows groups like ISIS to thrive. Those comments were how he opened his Senate speech yesterday as well.
It's also clear that he's got Hillary Clinton in mind. As with his comments with Gillespie, he noted that criticizing Clinton's failure to protect the consulate in Benghazi comes then with a responsibility to protect diplomatic missions in foreign counties, and that calls for military presence. The difference, though, Rand explained, is making that important decision whether to have a diplomatic presence at all in certain extremely troubled countries.
And, in accordance with his previous comments, he remains steadfast that President Barack Obama (or any president) must get permission from Congress to wage war and lamented that Congressional leaders did not want to force the matter. "If this were a Republican president you would hear some squawking," he said and added that the legislative branch had been allowing the executive branch to claim more and more power for itself for the past 100 years.
Jacob Sullum critiqued Paul's Senate speech earlier today here.