Here’s why Rand Paul’s critics are epically wrong about foreign policy

The reaction to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s Wall Street Journal column on Middle East interventionism isn’t surprising. Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post called Paul “ignorant” and suggests he could be lying about the arguments for and against. Adriana Cohen at the Boston Herald called him “clueless” and someone who should “wake up to reality.” Pema Levy at Newsweek says Paul is just trying to copy a page out of President Barack Obama’s 2008 playbook regarding opposition to the Iraq War. The Democrats called Paul’s foreign policy slogan “Blame America. Retreat from the World.”

This isn’t true at all. He told on August 27 he was in favor of airstrikes against ISIS, but wanted to talk to Congress first. That’s the Constitutional stance because Congress has to approve war.

Paul’s critics are trying to connect his recent column to one from June where he suggested staying out of Iraq entirely. But this isn’t case. Paul’s comments from this week are mostly focused on Syria and how things went to hell after the U.S. started aiding rebels.

The “non-jihadi” Free Syrian Army is losing members left and right to Islamist groups. Rubin ignores reports from June suggesting ISIS had access to U.S. equipment in Syria. It isn’t known where ISIS got the weapons. Rubin does suggest early interventionism into Syria may have prevented the rebels from becoming Islamic. That ignores a December 2012 Reuters report suggesting two top Free Syrian Army deputies were Islamic. It also ignores conflicting reports Arizona Senator John McCain unknowingly met with members of ISIS during a visit with Syrian rebels. Rubin is playing a game of “what if?” with interventionist-colored glasses while Paul is being realistic.

It should also be noted Paul’s piece in June was written before the resignation of Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Maliki was talking to Iran about helping out against ISIS. The same Iran who is considered one of the biggest threats in the Middle East. Paul’s rhetorical question about being Iran’s air force make sense. The U.S. shouldn’t do that.

In Cohen’s piece, she suggests Paul is ignoring the threat ISIS actually presents. There are reports ISIS is looking at an attack on America. But that’s where U.S. intelligence is supposed to come into play. The Constitutional intelligence, not the horrific Patriot Act. The CIA is supposed to the ones who find the information and report to the White House. September 11 happened because both the CIA and FBI refused to share information with each other. That’s a culture problem which can’t be solved by adding more money to agency coffers, along with  new bureaucracy.

The biggest question Paul’s piece didn’t answer is what to actually do about ISIS. That’s a question a lot of people are asking, with the solutions wavering between destroy them to and do nothing. Paul may not have an answer on ISIS, despite suggesting air strikes. Waiting to answer that question is lot better than admitting to not having strategy.

The ultimate goal of Paul’s Wall Street Journal piece was urging caution regarding getting involved in foreign wars. Considering the chaos in Iraq, Syria and Libya he has a point. It doesn’t make him an isolationist, it makes him cautious. And more caution is a good thing.

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