The Corner

National Security & Defense

More on Rand Paul and the Kurds

Kentucky senator Rand Paul has responded to this Corner post:

In 2015, Paul settled on a plan to defeat ISIS by arming the Kurds and promising them a country: “I think they would fight like hell if we promised them a country.”

The Kurds did fight like hell: 11,000 died fighting ISIS. But this week, President Trump decided it was not worth keeping 100 or fewer U.S. troops in northern Syria to deter a Turkish attack on America’s Kurdish allies. Rand Paul loudly cheered him on.

On Wednesday, I noted Paul’s 2015 comments about promising the Kurds their own country on the Corner, and on Thursday Senator Paul responded with a statement emailed by his communications director. “I did and still do support a homeland for the Kurds — in Iraq — anyone who conflates the Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran into one simple homogenous, easily solvable problem is either naive or disingenuous,” Paul said in the statement.

For the record, I never conflated the Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran “into one simple homogenous, easily solvable problem.” My post simply pointed out that Paul had gone from promising to reward the Kurds who would fight ISIS with their own country to cheering on a decision to merely move — but not bring home — 100 or fewer U.S. troops in order to enable Turkey’s plan to slaughter America’s Kurdish allies.

Senator Paul still supports a Kurdish homeland in Iraq, he says. But many of the Kurds who fought the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria live in Syria, not just Iraq. What do we owe them?

Did we owe them better than abruptly pulling out 100 troops whose presence kept Turkey at bay? Does it really stand to reason that just because Turkey is a member of NATO we needed to do them a solid and abandon our battlefield allies who suffered more than 10,000 deaths in recent years in a war against one of America’s worst enemies?

Won’t abandoning the Kurds make it more difficult for America to recruit allies in the future to fight our enemies, undermining a key objective of interventionists and non-interventionists alike? Wouldn’t fulfilling Paul’s promise to help stand up a Kurdish country involve a much greater American commitment than keeping 100 U.S. troops in northern Syria?

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