National Security & Defense

Rand Paul: Republican Hawks Are Arming ISIS

With the Islamic State gaining ground in Iraq, 2016 presidential contender Rand Paul is suggesting that more hawkish members of his own party are actually to blame for the brutal group’s rise. “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party, who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS,” he told Joe Scarborough on MSNBC this morning.

Scarborough suggested that the more interventionist wing of the GOP, including possible 2016 candidate Lindsey Graham (a “heat-seeking Rand missile”), will try to target Paul on the issue: “Lindsey Graham would say ISIS exists because of people like Rand Paul, who said, ‘let’s not go into Syria.’”

Paul’s response was direct:

I would say it’s exactly the opposite. ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party, who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS. These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS’s job even easier. They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved — they loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They just wanted more of it, but Libya’s a failed state, and it’s a disaster. Iraq really is a failed state, or a vassal state now of Iran. So everything that they’ve talked about in foreign policy, they’ve been wrong about for twenty years, and yet they have somehow the gall to keep saying and pointing fingers otherwise.

Earlier in the segment, Paul had made an effort to distinguish himself from his father’s more isolationist foreign-policy views, responding to critics on the right who see him as too weak on the issue.

— Isaac Cohen is an intern at National Review.

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