- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Wednesday it’s not his choice to start out by having a war with Republicans over foreign policy but pushed back against the notion that his views are closest to those of President Obama of anyone in the 2016 GOP field.

Mr. Paul was responding to comments from conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer on Fox News that he’s the “closest to Obama” in foreign policy views out of the Republicans in the 2016 presidential race.

Mr. Paul, who announced his presidential campaign Tuesday, said he likes Mr. Krauthammer, and the two have a good personal relationship.

“But you know what? Sometimes he’s just wrong,” Mr. Paul said on Fox News’ “The Kelly File.” “If you look at who’s closest to President Obama on foreign policy, it would be the people who have supported his policies like the war in Libya.”

Mr. Paul, who has tried to push back against critics who have attempted to brand him as an isolationist, said “neocons” in the GOP have been close to Mr. Obama and the only place they’ve differed is in degrees, noting he opposed the administration’s efforts in Libya and Syria.

“I don’t want to make this about personalities, but there’s a philosophy of neoconservatism, and I think they were wrong in Libya, and I think that we are less safe as a nation,” he said. “I didn’t start this — it’s not my choice to start out by having a war with Republicans.”

He said recent polling in Iowa showed voters were about evenly divided between his foreign policy views and the more hawkish views of GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

He also said, for example, that weapons were being shuttled into the Syrian civil war indiscriminately.

“And the weapons were flowing to al-Nusra, they were flowing to so-called moderates, but a CIA analyst put it this way: He said the only thing moderate about the rebels in Syria is their ability to fight,” he said.

“Our American arms went very quickly to ISIS; the Saudi Arabian arms went to ISIS,” he said. “ISIS is strong today because they’re fighting with western arms, and I think it’s a terrible tragedy.”

He said boots on the ground in the battle against the Islamic State are going to have to be Arab boots on the ground and “ultimately, civilized Islam’s going to have to rise up to be part of this.”

He predicted that the Jordanians have been provoked enough to the point where they will put boots on the ground.

“I think the Saudi Arabians need to step up, and I want to see battalions where thousands of Saudi Arabians are marching at the front of the battalions because frankly, the Saudi Arabians have been a big part of this problem over time,” he said. “I think the Qataris need to be fighting at the front lines. The Kuwaitis need to be at the front lines, the Turks need to be at the front lines, but you got to have Arab boots on the ground.”

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