“If you are afraid of being lonely don’t try to be right.” – Jules Renard
Lost in the recent GOP debate is the fact that Senator Rand Paul was the first public figure to call for a declaration of war against ISIS. He did so because he said they represented a threat to the United States. So why are so many of the other GOP candidates attacking the Senator? What’s their beef?
The real irritant to the other GOP contenders is that Rand Paul would not only go to war with ISIS, he would have blocked the creation of ISIS in the first place. Three years ago Rand Paul warned that American arms to Syrian rebels would would almost certainly end up in the hands of Islamic radicals.
And Rand Paul was not the only one.
Micheal Shank, a board member at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution warned as early as 2013 that we were setting up another Middle East war with an even more vicious enemy. Warning about the Syrian rebels Shank said, “Regardless of the vetting procedures in place, the sheer factionalized nature of the opposition guarantees that the arms will end up in some unsavory hands. The same militant fighters who have committed gross atrocities are among the best-positioned of the rebel groups to seize the weapons that the United States sends to Syria.”
Shank gave an historic litany of how the same policy had worked in the past. “Arming one side of Syria’s multi-sided and bloody civil war will come back to haunt us. Past decisions by the U.S. to arm insurgencies in Libya, Angola, Central America and Afghanistan helped sustain brutal conflicts in those regions for decades. In the case of Afghanistan, arming the mujahideen in the 1980s created the instability that emboldened extreme militant groups and gave rise to the Taliban, which ultimately created an environment for al Qaeda to thrive.”
In a chilling description of the horrors that were to come, Shank profiled the type of warrior on the ground in Syria and what we could expect. “When you lift the curtain on the armed groups with the most formidable military presence on the ground in Syria, you find the Al Nusra Front and Al Farough Brigades. Both groups are closely aligned with Al Qaeda and have directly perpetrated barbaric atrocities. The Al Nusra Front has been charged with beheadings of civilians, while a commander from the Al Farough Brigades reportedly ate the heart of a pro-Assad soldier.”
The U.S. Senate and the administration, both lavished with money from the arms lobby, ignored the warnings. Getting rid of the weapons – even if meant giving them away and even if mistakes were made – assured that more could be manufactured and sold.
A year later, in September, 2014, the United States was still arming the rebels. Over strenuous objections from the Turkish government President Obama airdropped ammunition, grenades and rocket propelled grenade launchers to Syrian rebels. Senator Rand Paul was one of the few voices of reason but there were others warning that yet again, we may be giving the enemy the bullets they will use to kill our men. Almost immediately the airdrop was picked up by Islamic radicals and their videos showed the event to the world.
Within two years of Rand Paul’s warning ISIS emerged from the petri dish of the Syrian civil war and raced across the Middle East in American made tanks and Humvees destroying cities and Christian communities that traced their unbroken heritage back to the apostle Thomas. Today, Senators who scoffed at Rand Paul’s warnings two years ago now bristle with indignation calling any question of their failed policies as “unpatriotic.” Meanwhile the embarrassed Obama White House complains to media outlets that they should stop using videos that show American tanks racing across the deserts with black ISIS flags flying.
Senator Rand Paul recognizes that there are unintended consequences to American actions and that America, itself, should clean up its own messes. And so he immediately called for the war to destroy ISIS. There is no doubt that their use of social media makes them dangerous even on American soil. Nevertheless, Rand Paul’s political enemies, shamed by their own actions, now seek to force a different narrative. Paul suggests that a little humility is in order.
Senator Paul has made it clear that he will commit America troops to defeat her enemies. He has called for an increase in the Defense Budget. But he has also made it clear that he is deeply concerned about the lives of that same tiny percentage of men and women are being sent back to war, over and over again. Their suicide rate is astronomical and closely mimics their divorce rate, the result of the longest wars – and therefore the longest separations among military families – in American history. And the children of those soldiers are now being raised in broken homes.
Having a president who will consider the consequences of his actions and who will only commit to war with deliberation just might be what the nation needs. Let us defeat ISIS. But let us not create another one.