Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) delivered a rebuttal speech to himself on the floor of the Senate yesterday, contradicting several of the rhetorical positions he has taken over the past several weeks.
In his fantastical speech, Rand denounced the interventionists who, according to him, are always wrong.
Rand spent the opening minutes of his speech splitting hairs over procedure in a transparent attempt to both support and oppose intervention at the same time, saying that the bill to authorize intervention and the continuing resolution to fund the government should be split and voted on separately. And if you’ve spent any amount of time watching how Congress operates in the past four years, you’d know that this would be a bad idea that could lead to a government shutdown.
After facing a brief objection from Senator Mikulski (D-MD) concerning congressional procedure, Rand went on a lengthy spiel denouncing the interventionists who want to ‘involve us in another nation’s civil war.’
The problem, of course, is that Rand himself has called for doing exactly that multiple times in the past several weeks.
On September 4th, Rand wrote an op-ed for Time in which he attacked the president and said that he would have called congress back from recess and sought authorization for strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria.
As Commander-in-Chief, I would not allow our enemies to kill our citizens or our ambassadors. “Peace through Strength” only works if you have and show strength. [...]
If I had been in President Obama’s shoes, I would have acted more decisively and strongly against ISIS. I would have called Congress back into session—even during recess.
Rand didn’t merely take on a more hawkish tone than the president, he also explicitly called for airstrikes in Syria and for arming regional opposition.
The military means to achieve these goals include airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Such airstrikes are the best way to suppress ISIS’s operational strength and allow allies such as the Kurds to regain a military advantage.
We should arm and aid capable and allied Kurdish fighters whose territory includes areas now under siege by the ISIS.
It’s not entirely clear why Rand supports arming Kurdish rebels but not Syrian rebels, but during his speech on the floor of the Senate yesterday he made several subtle references to the rumor that the CIA began delivering American arms to rebels in Syria a long time ago and that those weapons are already in the hands of ISIS.
Rand referred to a story that appeared in The New York Times, but that is not what the New York Times reported. The Times reported that the CIA helped Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatari deliver arms to moderate rebel groups, not ISIS.
The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.
The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said.
Throughout his speech Rand went to great lengths to repeatedly denounce shipping more arms to the region, saying that we’re sending more arms “into chaos,” but he explicitly called for arming Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.
What makes them so special? How do you reconcile these two positions? Why is that different? Isn’t he worried that arming Kurdish rebels could inflame regional tension with Turkey and create more “chaos?”
Rand also carved out a segment of his speech to attack Hillary Clinton again around the 25 minute mark, saying that he can’t explain to the American people why “Secretary Clinton made terrible decisions in Benghazi” and “failed to defend the consulate.” He went on to assert that the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi is a good example of why we must involve ourselves in the Middle East; because we must take pro-active measures to ensure the safety of Americans.
Not many people would necessarily disagree with that sentiment, but isn’t that contradictory to his position that we’re too active in the region? That we create “chaos?”
That brief attack on the former secretary of state was a continuation of his appearance on Fox News on September 5th, the day after he wrote the op-ed for Time, in which Rand took a hawkish stance and mocked Hillary Clinton for being more concerned about climate change than terrorism.
His response: “I don’t think we really want a commander-in-chief who is battling climate change instead of terrorism.”
He went on to question “whether she has the wisdom to lead the country — which I think it’s obvious that she doesn’t.”
Rand spent a great deal of time during his nearly 45 minute speech yesterday decrying the bipartisan rush to war and the procedural steps taken to authorize it, but ultimately he supports military intervention in Iraq and Syria. He supports a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF). He said he would call Congress back from recess to pass a new AUMF. He has attacked the president for not doing so.
I lost count around the 6th or 7th time Rand complained about attaching the authorization for intervention (which he supports) to the continuing resolution to keep the government funded, as if to cast himself as the lone voice of reason when he has been as vocal as anyone in calling for military action.
You can watch the full the speech below. It’s nearly 45 minutes long but around the 30 minute mark he really begins to ramble.