Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said the United States cannot be the world’s police and is warning against listening to the “interventionists” in both parties, as he argues that their approach to the Middle East has “never been good foreign policy” because it is founded in the idea of “shooting first and asking questions later.”
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Mr. Paul, a likely 2016 GOP presidential contender, calls for a “more realistic” foreign policy and calls the current approach to the Middle East as “unhinged, flailing about to see who to act against next, with little thought to the consequences.”
Mr. Paul points to previous calls from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, another likely presidential candidate, and members of his own party who wanted to assist rebel forces fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad without recognizing that degrading his military capacity could have strengthened the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“This is not to say the U.S. should ally with Assad,” Mr. Paul said. “But we should recognize how regime change in Syria could have helped and emboldened the Islamic State, and recognize that those now calling for war against ISIS are still calling for arms to factions allied with ISIS in the Syrian civil war.”
“We should realize that the interventionists are calling for Islamic rebels to win in Syria and for the same Islamic rebels to lose in Iraq. While no one in the West supports Assad, replacing him with ISIS would be a disaster,” he said.
Mr. Paul said that the Islamic threat should be taken seriously.
“But we should also recall how recent foreign policy decisions have helped these extremists so that we don’t make the same mistake of potentially aiding our enemies again,” he said.
The Democratic National Committee responded that Mr. Paul “blames America for all the problems in the world, while offering reckless ideas that would only alienate us from the global community.”
“That type of ‘blame America’ rhetoric may win Paul accolades at a conference of isolationists but it does nothing to improve our standing in the world,” said Michael Czin, a DNC spokesman. “In fact, Paul’s proposals would make America less safe and less secure.”
“Simply put, if Rand Paul had a foreign policy slogan, it would be ‘The Rand Paul Doctrine: Blame America. Retreat from the World,’” Mr. Czin said.