A bit of a kerfuffle began, this week, when Republican Senator and Presidential candidate Rand Paul declared, rightfully, that "ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party," and that a lot of weaponry that ISIS now has, came because we starting arming sides in the conflict, without knowing who we were really sending them to.
Both are points that I made on this website a while ago, and are as correct today as when I first posted them.
It doesn't take a military genius to understand that invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein led to an Iraqi government in which Sunnis feel like second-class citizens, and created a power vacuum that ISIS has now partially filled on their behalf. And, so, if you want to point to the moment that got the ball rolling on where we are today, it was the decision to go to war in Iraq, an idea pushed by the hawks in the GOP.
Further, story after story demonstrates that our decision to send arms to Syrian "moderates" ended up helping arm ISIS, itself, both because of captured weapons, and some moderates joining ISIS, in the end.
So, Rand Paul is right. Of course, the rest of the GOP doesn't want to hear it.
"This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be commander in chief," said Governor Bobby Jindal, who might be a candidate himself, in an already bloated field.
We have men and women in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position. The next President's job is to have the discipline and strength to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth.
It has become impossible to imagine a President Paul defeating radical Islam, and it's time for the rest of us to say it.
The curious thing is that Governor Jindal doesn't seem to understand that Senator Paul is actually taking the most conservative position -- the libertarian position.
Rand Paul is making a bet, and it may end up paying off.
Essentially, Paul is betting that the base GOP has become as tired with nation-building as everyone else has, and has soured on the Bush-Cheney-Wolfowitz worldview. Some indications are showing that he might, indeed, be right. Even Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham now admit that knowing what we know now, they would not have launched a war in Iraq. Leaving aside whether they knew a lot of what we know now, back then, for a moment, it is clear that backing the war without regret is no longer a winning position in the GOP primary.
In that sense, the GOP has caught up to Senator Paul's dad, who stood up against the war in Iraq, and caused quite a stir in the party when he ran for President.
Rand Paul is betting that enough of the party has gone even farther than Jeb Bush and Graham, and everybody else who is running, and he is ready to fight radical terrorists with smart, surgical tactics, not all-out invasions and nation building. While the 20-something other candidates who make up the rest of the GOP field are all fighting over those who agree with neo-cons, Senator Paul figures he can nab the rest -- the growing number of GOP voters who reject neo-con ventures in the Middle East. That, he figures, can vault him towards the top of the pack in early primaries.
A lot of things happen in the course of a campaign, so this strategy alone won't win him the nomination. But don't be surprised if it is enough to give him some surprisingly good results and newfound power within the GOP.