- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul sided with President Obama over some of his more hawkish conservative colleagues, saying the recent surge of violence in Iraq at the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists is not the White House administration’s fault.

“What’s going on now, I don’t blame on President Obama,” Mr. Paul said during a “Meet the Press” interview. “Has he got the solution? Maybe there is no solution. But I do blame the Iraq war on the chaos that is in the Middle East. I also blame those who are for the Iraq war for emboldening Iran.”

Mr. Paul’s statements counter those of some of his fellow Republicans. Sen. John McCain, for example, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham have been consistent in their insistence that the United States needs a strong military presence in Iraq — one that remains on ground for some time, Time reported.

They’ve also placed blame for the uptick in violence in the region on the White House’s telegraphing of troops’ withdrawal.

“I predicted this fully and completely and did it time after time after time,” Mr. McCain said weeks ago, Time reported. Mr. McCain hasn’t yet called for more ground troops, but has pressed for the arming of Syrian rebels — something the White House has begun mulling — and for airstrikes over Iraq, Time reported.

Mr. McCain also said many in the Republican Party agree with him.

“I talk with them constantly,” Mr. McCain said in the Time report. “They understand what Sen. Graham and I are pushing. Most of them that I can see agree.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, said at an event last year: “I consider myself somewhere in between those two poles,” of foreign policy put forth by Mr. McCain and Mr. Paul, Time reported.

The contrasting views are indicative of a gap in the Republican Party that’s emerging on foreign policy, pitting hawks against those with more restrained views, Time reported.

“You haven’t seen a rallying of the public to the Republican alternative on foreign policy because it’s not obvious what the Republican alternative is,” said Christopher Preble, a defense policy analyst for Cato Institute, in Time.

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