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Rand Paul hits back at Rick Perry over isolationism in Iraq charges

Sen. Rand Paul
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A couple of days after Texas Gov. Rick Perry accused Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky of isolationism concerning the crisis in Iraq, Sen. Paul hit back in a Monday piece in Politico. He crafted his response on two fronts. He not only defended and defined his own position, but also attacked Perry’s in one aspect.

Far from being isolationist, Paul claimed that his position regarding the upsurge of ISIS in Iraq is proactive. He suggested that they are little different than that of both Perry and President Barack Obama. He adds that there are “no good choices” regarding the current crisis. He has at least one crucial difference, however.

“I support continuing our assistance to the government of Iraq, which include armaments and intelligence. I support using advanced technology to prevent ISIS from becoming a threat. I also want to stop sending U.S. aid and arms to Islamic rebels in Syria who are allied with ISIS, something Perry doesn’t even address.”

Paul does not mention the idea of air bombing or drone strikes against ISIS targets, but instead goes right to the notion of introducing ground troops back into Iraq. He suggests, based on statements made by Perry in 2012, that the Texas governor supports this notion. Paul opposes it.

“Unlike Perry, I oppose sending American troops back into Iraq. After a decade of the United States training the Iraq’s military, when confronted by the enemy, the Iraqis dropped their weapons, shed their uniforms and hid. Our soldiers’ hard work and sacrifice should be worth more than that. Our military is too good for that.

“I ask Governor Perry: How many Americans should send their sons or daughters to die for a foreign country — a nation the Iraqis won’t defend for themselves? How many Texan mothers and fathers will Governor Perry ask to send their children to fight in Iraq?

“I will not hold my breath for an answer. If refusing to send Americans to die for a country that refuses to defend itself makes one an “isolationist,” then perhaps its (sic) time we finally retire that pejorative.”

As Hot Air mentions, Paul seems to be on the side of the American people when he opposes this kind of intervention in the Middle East. Americans by large numbers not only oppose such intervention, but believe that previous ones were not worth the cost in blood and treasure. Perry, therefore, seems to be pushing against public opinion and Paul pushing with it.

Paul, like Perry, invokes the name of Ronald Reagan to support his position. He notes that Reagan was able to win the Cold War without getting into a shooting war with the Soviet Union. It is that level of forbearance that Paul says aligns him and not Perry with the iconic president.

However Paul does not address the issue of what happens if his proposed policy fails to prevent the establishment of a terrorist caliphate in the Middle East. How would he deal with an entity that will certainly be used as a base of operations for attacks against the West, including the United States? What about the threat to Israel and the oil states of the Persian Gulf. In any event, it looks like that the debate over foreign policy in the Republican Party has been joined.

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