The Corner

National Security & Defense

Rand Paul on the Kurds: Then and Now

Senator Rand Paul speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., December 4, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Kentucky senator Rand Paul, perhaps the most prominent non-interventionist in Congress, said in 2015 that the United States should defeat ISIS by arming the Kurds and promising the Kurds their own country: “I think they would fight like hell if we promised them a country.”

The Kurds did indeed fight like hell, dying by the thousands in the fight against ISIS. 

Now, Senator Paul is cheering on President Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds:

As National Review’s editorial notes, President Trump is not withdrawing all U.S. troops from Syria, but merely moving 100 or so U.S. troops to enable Turkey’s attack on America’s Kurdish allies. The Washington Post reports Turkey’s invasion could allow 11,000 ISIS prisoners in Kurdish territory to run free.

Even if you’re a principled non-interventionist, how does abandoning the Kurds advance the national interest? A key objective of non-interventionism is relying on allies to fight our enemies, so America doesn’t get bogged down in wars. What lesson will this betrayal send to existing and potential allies, now and in the future?

And is potentially letting 11,000 ISIS prisoners run free so we can move 100 U.S. troops really what principled non-interventionism looks like? If it’s not, will the principled non-interventionists please speak up?


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