Rand Paul to Rick Perry: Why Send US Troops to an Iraq that Won’t Defend Self?

By Juan Cole

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, apparently considering another run for president (assuming he can remember to do it), attacked Rand Paul as an “isolationist,” calling him “blind” to the danger of international “terrorism” and pointing especially to the rise of the so-called Islamic State in northern Iraq.

Perry said, “”That’s why it’s disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) suggest that our nation should ignore what’s happening in Iraq…” Perry says that the European Muslims fighting with IS could come to the US easily for the purposes of terrorism. But it seems obvious that the US military can’t stop that in any case. If the problem is lax security, it is a Department of Homeland Security issue, not one of foreign military intervention.

The problems with Perry’s use of IS as a plot device for driving US military intervention abroad are manifold:

1. There were no al-Qaeda offshoots operating freely in Iraq in 2002, despite what Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials alleged. Far from forestalling a dire threat to the US, the Bush administration illegally invaded and occupied a country that had not attacked the US. It then destroyed its economy and dissolved its army and cooperated in a vindictive anti-Sunni set of policies on behalf of the Shiite fundamentalists it brough to power. It was precisely the bull in the china shop of US military intervention that paved the way for IS to come to prominence in northern Iraq in the first place! So what makes Perry think that another intervention won’t also boomerang?

2. It is not clear what exactly the US military could do to fight IS in Iraq. They occupied the whole country for about 8 years and weren’t able to root it out. What exactly would Mr. Perry have them do? As for a US advisory mission to the Iraqi military, it is unclear how advice will do much good when 30,000 troops drop their weapons and run away. Shall we advise them not to do that?

3. IS has never struck, as a terrorist group, at a target in the US. If it is true, as Perry, suggests, that it struck at Israeli Mossad operatives in Belgium, then that surely is a matter for the Israelis to do something about. The Israelis seem willing to deploy the billions of dollars in sophisticated weaponry US taxpayers have given them against women and children in Gaza. Perhaps they could spare some of that weaponry for avenging themselves on the actual fighters of IS. Either the Israelis are a strategic asset for the US, in which case they should be able to fight their own battles, or they are a liability, in which case we shouldn’t give them $3 bn a year and shouldn’t allow them to drag us into military misadventures in the region.

Yesterday, Rand Paul replied, arguing that Perry is ‘dead wrong.’

Rand Paul argues that Perry’s depiction of him as an isolationist is a caricature, and that in fact he and Perry agree on most of the steps the US should take in Iraq. Paul even generously admits that both of them largely agree with President Obama on these steps: “I support continuing our assistance to the government of Iraq, which include armaments and intelligence. I support using advanced technology to prevent ISIS from becoming a threat.” He also allows that US airstrikes on targets of the so-called Islamic State may be necessary.

Paul says that where he differs with Perry is that he would not send ground troops back into Iraq.

He also suggests that the policy of the US and its allies of trying to train and arm Syrian rebels has backfired, and that many of these US-backed fighters have defected to IS and other al-Qaeda offshoots. That is, interventionist policies in Syria are in part responsible for the Iraq imbroglio.

Paul says, “After a decade of the United States training the Iraq’s military, when confronted by the enemy, the Iraqis dropped their weapons, shed their uniforms and hid. Our soldiers’ hard work and sacrifice should be worth more than that. Our military is too good for that.”

He argues that there is no way a US military boots-on-the-ground mission could succeed under such circumstances.

Since, rather tyrannically, Americans have been forced into a two-party system, we don’t actually have much choice in politics.

So it matters quite a lot who is the standard-bearer for each of the two parties. On foreign policy, the Rand wing of the GOP could find some common ground with independents and Democrats on issues such as avoiding committing big military land forces abroad.

Unfortunately for the country, all the other GOP early frontrunners are talking boots on the ground overseas, and that means we have a 50/50 chance of such a catastrophe in only 3 years. Worse, some of the potential Democratic frontrunners probably agree more with Rick Perry than they do with Rand Paul. So American elections have become a crap shoot in which the country could lose it all with each election.

Rand Paul makes more sense in this exchange on Iraq and Syria than does Rick Perry, who argues by the same fearmongering about “terrorists” that caused all the trouble in the first place.


Related Video:

The Young Turks: “Perry vs Paul In Snarling CatFight – Is Romney The Savior?”

16 Responses

  1. Interesting split brewing in the Republican party, especially if Rand Paul continues to gain strength. Rick Perry just fired the opening salvo, but many Republicans will line up and take their shots including Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Dick and Liz Cheney etc. They’ll be coming out of the woodwork because if Rand Paul wins the nomination, the neocon dream of perpetual war and American empire is finished.

  2. The Senate is doubling funds for Israel’s Iron Dome. Increased military aid as well as our own defense expenditures play a big part in the soon-to-be War Party anti-Rand crusade.

    Bibi Netanyahu drew his red line at the UN as a warning against IRAN, not ISIS. The neocons and most Republicans want war against Iran. Rand Paul is in their way. These Republicans are just waiting for the right moment to attack Obama-Kerry’s nuclear negotiations with Iran and away we go.

    Just don’t kid yourself….


    Rick Perry is a LIGHTWEIGHT with no shot at winning the GOP nomination. Romney already lost. He won’t get the nomination.

  3. Right on, Mr. Perry, send them all BOOTSTRAPS!

    The thing is, the Republicans know there is a such a filter bubble going on in America, the internet, the Murdochian empire, that they can say anything they like and know it will be heard and undisputed by their self-enraptured evil empire believing followers. Clips of his and the other anointed ones, Cruz and Paul, will be trumpeted to the faithful, proof that they are right. A third of the people in this land believe in devils and Evil. Why not Rick Perry?

  4. If a poll were taken now among people capable of thinking for themselves, Rand Paul would have a very good chance of being considered the least evil of all likely early contenders – and that includes Hillary.

      • Any bets, if he were somehow elected, whether that dishonest opportunistic weather vane would even persist, or be able to persist over all the Global-profit-and-career-centric Battlespacians, in the current noise he makes about disengagement and fortress America to attract votes? The guy is not even a very good Libertarian, though he pretty clearly believes in advancing the REAL Libertarian “domestic policy”-slurbing-over-into-global-agenda, the one lit up in this little series of horror pieces: “Journey into a Libertarian Future,” link to nakedcapitalism.com

        Anyone remember George Carlin, and his take on all of this?

        “Who really controls America?”, link to youtube.com

        “George Carlin: How language is used to mask truth and Israeli terrorism,” link to youtube.com

        “Exposing our government and the fall of humanity, one joke at a time,” link to youtube.com

        And of course, “Oh — Never mind…” link to screen.yahoo.com

      • Deep down, Rand Paul is probably a Neo-confederate like his father, Ron Paul. On “Meet the Press,” Ron actually blamed Lincoln for starting the Civil War.

        If Rand gets elected and moves the capital to Richmond, Virginia, there won’t be any doubt. If POTUS Rand makes the “Southern Avenger” his Secretary of Defense, it could get a ‘lil hairy up north.

        “States Rights” Rand’s domestic policy will be straight out of the Confederacy.

      • I agree, but on domestic issues he at least puts up an appearance of adhering to the Constitution more than Bush2 did or Obama is doing. On Israel, unfortunately, he recently let the lobby know he was on their side. But, as I said, he would be the least evil – not the best choice.

        • Rand Paul’s Neo-confederate States Right’s agenda might be overwhelmed by the rapidly changing ethnic demographics and cultural changes happening in this country. Even the president can’t turn back the clock on amnesty for illegal immigrants, Gay rights and legalization of recreational marijuana use. Those changes will be permanent.

          The Latino vote by itself means BIG changes. I think making the Mayor of San Antonio the Keynote Speaker of the 2012 Democratic convention means the Dems believe they can turn Texas BLUE–34 electoral votes. If they do, Georgia will be the largest red state with 15 electoral votes.

          Almost ten million Texans are ethnically Mexicans. Every city from San Antonio to the Mexican border, 400 miles, is at least 60%–80% TexMex. If the Republicans don’t or can’t think up a strategy to gain many of their votes, the GOP won’t be able to win Texas or a national election.

        • Hmmm: The Supreme Court has been “adhering to the Constitution,” too, in its decisions regarding corporate versus personal rights and standing, privacy, and a whole lot of other stuff. Cloven Bundy and his friends are adhering to the Constitution too — just ask them. So did Earl Warren, and the gentlemen who from their robes and oligarchic hauteur opposed the New Deal so vigorously and eloquently, to add some context to the appearance thing.

          “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

  5. Rand Paul, like Ted Cruz, has been “anointed” as god’s chosen in the Messianic camp. Experience has shown us he’ll say whatever needs to be said to be elected. Nothing more frightening than the more equal in the service of self fulfilling prophecy
    link to youtube.com

    • Cruz, Perry and Paul will try and position themselves like Rick Santorum did in 2012. Evangelicals believe gay marriage is a sin against the word of God and will bring down his wrath.

      Those folks are serious.

      Where would Ted Cruz go without the Texas Bible Thumpin’ vote? :) Great video.

      No Republican can win the Iowa primary without the Evangelical vote. They rule.

  6. Democrats have been thinking they’re about to turn Texas blue with Hispanic voters for a decade at least and it still isn’t close to happening. The Democrat Party in Texas is a joke, they haven’t won a statewide election in 20 years, and the state has never been redder. A lot of things have to happen before Texas will even be in play nationally, including Hispanic voters actually VOTING in numbers proportionate to their percentage of the population, an end to the gerrymandered districts that Republicans are using to suppress voter turnout and give themselves safe districts, and the Dems fielding candidates that know how to win at the state level.

    • In 2008, the results of the Texas Democratic primary between Obama and Hillary showed how much power Latinos had in the state. Obama easily won both Houston and Dallas by over 15%, yet Hillary Clinton still managed to win the popular vote by 4%. Hillary won the popular vote by a large margin (25%) in every city with a majority Latino population–San Antonio, El Paso, Corpus, Brownsville, McAllen–every one of them.

      It was a STUNNING result.

      The Democratic party took note and made the Latino Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, the Keynote Speaker at their 2012 convention. Now, Obama nominated Castro as Sec. of Housing and Urban Development.

      None of this is a coincidence. Castro is being groomed for a higher position and I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes Hillary Clinton’s V.P. candidate.

  7. I’m still laughing about the creationist telling the children that Noah was smart by bringing baby dinosaurs onto the arc.

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