As the 2016 presidential election draws nearer, the behavior of potential candidates is under particularly intense scrutiny. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is one such individual, and many have been speculating he is attempting to broaden his base by taking a less libertarian stance on certain issues. Rather than speculate about Paul’s motives, Glenn decided it was best to go straight to the source, and he spoke to Paul on radio this morning about a myriad of topics.
To begin, Glenn asked Paul to layout his position on the United States’ strategy against ISIS. Paul was adamant his position on American intervention overseas has not changed:
“Well, my position is the same as it always has been. With regard to foreign policy, I think that anytime we go to war that you need the authority of Congress. This is what the Constitution says. This is what our Founders said in the federalist papers that the president has to come and ask permission. He doesn't consult with us. He has to ask our permission… So that's the first thing.
We haven't been doing that right for quite a while – particularly with this president in Libya and now with the attacks in Iraq. When you come to Congress, Congress has a debate and that debate is: Is there a vital American interest? And I think that depends on the facts on the ground, and the facts on the ground do change over time.
I've said repeatedly, and I still say, that the facts were not there for an American interest in the Libyan Civil War or in the Syrian Civil War. I do think, though, because of our involvement and the involvement of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, and Turkey in the Syrian Civil War, that they created a safe haven for ISIS. ISIS has grown stronger, and it is my judgment now that ISIS is a threat to our consulate in Erbil and potentially to our embassy in Baghdad. We know they're a danger to citizens that have been trapped in the crossfire with the beheadings of American citizens. So I think there's an argument to be made that there's an American interest.”
One of the primary issues with the conversation surrounding an American military response to ISIS is the lack of a clear strategy from the Obama Administration. While Obama vowed to “degrade” and “destroy” ISIS, his “counter-terrorism strategy” raises more questions than answers. Glenn asked Paul if he believes we are going to war.
“I think [ISIS has] declared war on us. They're beheading innocent civilians. They have said, if they get a chance and when they get a chance, they will come to New York. So I think they've really declared war on us, and they are a significant threat,” Paul said. “Look at how rapidly they took Mosul – in the space of a day or two… So I think there's a case to be heard that our consulate could be at risk and overrun, and I think it would be inexcusable.”
While Paul sought to focus on the U.S. consulate in Erbil and why he would support U.S. intervention should the consulate be attacked, Glenn pressed Paul for a straight answer as to whether or not he supports arming the Syrian rebels to defeat ISIS. Paul was clear that he does not support the strategy:
“I'm not in favor of that. I've never been in favor of arming any of the Islamic rebels in Syria, and I think it's a mistake and counterproductive and still will be. Most of the arms we've sent in there, even when we've allegedly sent it to the moderate rebels, have wound up in the hands of 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.
So I think all of those – Republican and Democrat – who have favored arming the Islamic rebels in Syria have actually done us a disservice and have emboldened ISIS and made the problem worse. I think as the facts have evolved on the ground that ISIS is a potential threat to us and that we do have to do something.
I favor air strikes in coordination, but I think the battle on the ground needs to be fought by those who live there. I think the Iraqis need to step up, quit running, and 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 and the last round of fighting… Qatar, Kuwaitis, Turks, they need all to fight. It's their country, their land.
I want to see them 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 because I don't believe that they're a real fighting force.”
“I think you're in step with… where we are… I don't know where the American people stand on stuff now,” Glenn concluded. “I think he answered to my satisfaction.”