Red State: Obama’s better than Rand Paul on security


Not content to let Rand Paul have his minor, temporary Patriot Act sunset victory, conservative blogger and video auteur Ben Howe took to Red State just minutes before the expiration of the act’s surveillance powers to proclaim the Kentucky senator and presidential candidate worse than Obama on national security.

As far as I’m concerned, Rand Paul’s view of ISIS and our role in “creating” them is pretty much a deal breaker. It shows such an uninformed and naive view of radical Islam that it makes me expect President Paul to be as dangerous as a President Obama in this regard. In fact I’ve reached the point where I question whether Obama might actually keep us safer than Rand Paul would.

Howe joins a crescendoing chorus of Republicans who might have a hard decision to make come November 2016 if Rand Paul is indeed the party’s nominee. I predicted this intra-party schism almost two years ago, but I’m stunned by the accelerated timeline. I expected Republicans hawks to flip to Hillary if Rand was the nominee. I didn’t expect them to all but do so 8 months before any primary votes are cast.

Whether or not you think it’s outrageous for Rand to have said “hawks in our party” “created” ISIS, let’s review the evidence. (Because that’s what thinking people do. We don’t just hear something that sounds outrageous, gasp, and shun the speaker.)

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week Paul said:

ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately. 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.

By “created”, Paul obviously doesn’t mean that hawkish Republicans converted Muslims into radicals. He means hawks “created” the conditions for their empowerment. And did they?

In 2011, the Obama administration, supported with a wink and a nod by “hawks in our party”, joined a UN-led coalition to topple the Qaddafi government in Libya. In the recent email scandal we learned that Hillary Clinton wanted to arm the Libyan rebels covertly, but we don’t know if that ever happened. After Qaddafi’s removal, we’ve found out, the resulting chaos was used to ship arms from the port of Benghazi to Syria for use in their civil war. Those arms inevitably ended up with ISIS.

But there’s an even more direct connection than that. Just last year as ISIS was making their particular breed of evil known, “hawks in our party” supported Obama’s efforts to weaken the Assad regime and eventually voted to arm the Syrian rebels against both forces. And as surely as the sun rises in the East, many of those arms intended for the enemies of ISIS were eventually seized by ISIS instead, further empowering their crusade across the Levant.

Howe also seems to be confused about where ISIS started. In tweets after Paul’s Morning Joe appearance, Howe attempted to correct him by saying ISIS filled the void left when Obama withdrew from Iraq. He then goes on to say they were “born in Syria”. Which is it? Even if we had left Iraq teaming with hundreds of thousands of American troops with a 100-foot wall on its borders, ISIS still would have emerged from the Syrian civil war and wreaked their havok across that nation. Iraq’s vulnerability was just bonus.

Regardless, Obama withdrew from Iraq on the same timeline that Bush set with the new Iraqi government. Even if McCain had beaten Obama in 2008, that “vacuum” would likely still have been created. So actually by attempting to shift the blame to Obama instead of “hawks in our party”, Howe and others are actually blaming Bush, chief among the “hawks in our party”, who set the withdrawl timeline.

The most jaw-dropping line comes toward the end of Howe’s post.

His view has no place in the post-9/11 world, much less a world that just saw an ISIS attack in Texas a few weeks ago.

There was no “ISIS attack in Texas”. Two buffoons from Arizona self-radicalized over the last 10 years, talked a big game about joining jihad and supporting ISIS, but never actually met ISIS, never trained with them, never organized with them, were never supported by them. These two buffoons were immediately killed by Texans with guns. It’s hardly even right to call it an “attack” at all.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack because that’s what ISIS does. Claiming responsibility for what their independent followers do makes terrorists seem more powerful than they really are. It’s a propaganda tool, not a verified and peer-reviewed statement of fact. American bloggers cowering in fear of the “ISIS attack in Texas” will look even better in their recruitment videos.

If Garland was an “ISIS attack”, then this blog post is an official campaign communication from Rand Paul himself. Come on.

And now because of 9/11 we can’t trace the origins and ascendency of terrorist organizations if there might be uncomfortable truths found there? Talk about putting your head in the sand.

Conservatives used to be fans of real-keeping. They’ve often condemned liberals for refusing to name the evil we face. Howe himself invokes this concept unironically in his post.

But Paul isn’t simply second-guessing the original mission. He’s providing a window into a view that ignores the nature of evil, likely because he’s too “nuanced” to believe something as archaic as “evil” exists.

Except that’s what Paul was doing. He ackowledges the evil of ISIS and has ideas about how to defeat them. But he also isn’t obfuscating about the conditions that made their swift conquest possible. Yes, there will always be evil and will likely always be radical Islamist evil for some time to come. I just don’t think we should make their jobs easier for them by deposing their enemies and giving them weapons, and neither does Rand Paul. Sorry.

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