Does the Demise of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and His Caliphate Vindicate 2014 Rand Paul?

The senator took a lot of heat five years ago for being anti-interventionist in Syria yet pro-war against ISIS.


In September 2014, in the wake of the beheading of two American journalists by the Islamic State, the usually intervention-skeptical Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.), then preparing a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, came out in favor declaring war to "destroy ISIS militarily." This was, to put it mildly, controversial among libertarians, particularly though not only those who are fans of his famously anti-interventionist father. More hawkish libertarians, meanwhile, were still going on about Paul's allegedly "fatal pacifism." (Reason's interview with the senator at the time is at this link.)

Many have argued that Paul's tiptoeing through the political minefield created by the alarming rise of ISIS was central to his candidacy's failure to launch, thus clearing the way for another, albeit far less consistent, intervention skeptic to eventually win the nomination in an otherwise typically hawkish GOP field. But now that the U.S. has, well, destroyed ISIS military (or come as close as you can) while also refraining from launching big new interventions in Syria or elsewhere, is this at least a partial vindication for a thoroughly unloved Rand Paul straddle?

So begins today's Reason Roundtable podcast, featuring Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman, Matt Welch, and Katherine Mangu-Ward. The gang also argues about impeachment, the deficit, bad metaphors, and the new Yeezy. The usual, in other words.

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music credit: "March to Victory" by Silent Partner

Relevant links from the show:

"Trump Makes Baghdadi Death About Humiliation, not Human Rights," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Rand Paul Wants to 'Destroy' ISIS Yet 'Stay the Heck Out of Their Civil War,'" by Jacob Sullum

"Rand Paul: Conservative Realist?" by Matt Welch

"The Case for Foreign-Policy 'Realism,'" by Rand Paul

"In Search of Libertarian Realism," by Matt Welch, Sheldon Richman, Christopher Preble, William Ruger, and Fernando Tesón

"When House Republicans Act Like Campus Leftists," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Is William Taylor the John Dean of Ukrainegate?" by David Post

"Trump's Cronies Meddling in Ukraine Undermined U.S. Goals, Says Ambassador Taylor," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Federal Deficit Hit $984 Billion Last Year—a Nearly 50 Percent Increase Since Trump Took Office," by Eric Boehm

"The Mind of Mike Judge," by Jesse Walker

"Kanye West Is Misunderstood," by Brian Doherty

NEXT: Billy Bragg Wants Three-Dimensional Freedom. But Can We Afford That?

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  1. This was, to put it mildly, controversial among libertarians, particularly though not only those who are fans of his famously anti-interventionist father.

    His father might have done the same. Ron voted for the AUMF against Al Qeada, although he said he would have preferred Letters of Marque and Reprisal. I guess that would mean contractors instead of the regular military. Not sure how that would have been better. I can only assume that Ron would also be in favor of some sort of formal declaration against ISIS. I’m guessing he would favor Letters of Marque and Reprisal for that too. But if it came to a vote, he’d probably vote to declare war on ISIS.

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      1. Sorry, v.g. — I’ll stick with the Marque and Reprisal.

  2. Bad news on the Abu al-Baghdadi hit as a successor has been named to replace him: Abu Mecha-al-Baghdadi.

    1. No problem, Mecha-Shiva can totally take him down.

    2. No, he got whacked too

  3. Blast from the past:


    June.15.2014 at 8:57 am

    You guys miss the important question: how long before Obama reads about this in the newspaper and what will he do when he finds out?


    June.15.2014 at 9:32 am

    Good question, when was his tee time?

    Austrian Anarchy

    June.15.2014 at 12:48 pm

    If it is in reason, he will never see it in The Worker.


    June.15.2014 at 1:00 pm

    Thread winner.

  4. This is nice one:

    Ken Shultz

    June.24.2014 at 9:55 am

    “A new Gallup poll finds Barack Obama to have the lowest approval rating among living U.S. presidents.”

    I didn’t realize Obama had higher unfavorable ratings than George W. Bush. Obama beats out Bush in that category by 8%!

    That doesn’t auger well for the Democrats in the midterms.

    I wonder why more Democrats aren’t distancing themselves from Obama, given those ratings. I suspect the reason has to do with bias in the media–much of the national media sees Obama himself as the only issue that matters, and support for him confers good guy status while opposition makes you the bad guy.

    So, I suspect individual Democrats get more mileage in the media by playing coy on Obama–but someday that dam’s gonna burst. It took a long time for people to accept that the media had duped them in the run up to the Iraq War, too, but once they did…

    1. You do realize that the Democrats got their asses handed to them so bad during Obama’s tenure that the party lost the House, the Senate, and numerous governorships and state houses, right?

      1. You do realize that the Republicans somehow managed to trip over their own dicks twice, failing to take the Senate in 2010 and eking out a much smaller margin in the Senate in 2014 than traditional models said they should have, right?

  5. I wonder if Warty ever lost fingers building furniture?

  6. This one is pretty funny:


    June.30.2014 at 9:48 am

    Saw The Road Warrior the other day. Lord Humungus died.


    June.30.2014 at 9:52 am

    It’s a fictionalized account.

    Lord Humungus

    June.30.2014 at 10:00 am

    I got better.

  7. Paul’s tiptoeing through hawkish non-interventionism caused his candidacy to fail to launch? In a word, no.

    Paul was the media darling at the beginning. He shot to the top and the media loved pushing him there. Then they noticed that he had a lot of support from younger voters targeted by democrats. And social liberals in their own party were digging what he was throwing down…

    So the media turned on him like a rabid dog, branding him racist, sexist and downright satanic. He was easily the most hated man in America for progressives for about a month and a half. And then his candidacy was safely at the back of the pack and they ignored him, preferring to find other fringe republicans to push to the front….. like Ted Cruz. And Donald Trump.

    Trump didn’t give in to their baiting like Paul did. And the voter’s responded.

    Paul could have won the nomination on a “Screw you and the horse you rode in on” response, just like Trump did. But nobody would have believed it would work before Trump.

  8. Man that interview with Rand Paul from Oct 2014 really made me sad. The comment sections were so badass back then.

  9. I heard the most ignorant comment ever on a Reason podcast when panelist Matt Welch said the following: “The Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is still going to run out. It might not run out in 2026, where it is currently projected. It might run out in 2028, or 2030. And then what happens? What happens is that they will be running on a cash flow basis. It doesn’t mean they have zero money, it means they have not enough money. It is insolvent. Right now it is scheduled to be insolvent in 2026.” Someone at Reason, and I’m sure there are many there who can do this, needs to explain to Mr. Welch the nature of government accounting for “trust funds,” why their balances are meaningless (not to mention misleading and fraudulent), and what “cash flow” means. Wow.

  10. In 2014, Rand Paul took a lot of heat, including/especially from libertarians, about the existence of anti-Syrian intrusion nevertheless pro-war against ISIS. So though will that look now? Nick Gillespie, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Hero and Matt Welch discussion the al-Baghdadi aftermath on the Reason round bench podcast. Well, I propose you guys to hire a Best Essay Writing Services UK company when I was a student I just got assisted from them and it’s a marvelous and invincible service with 100% money-back sure at reasonable rates.

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