Tags: Iraq | Iraq in Crisis | Rand Paul | Tea Party | Rand Paul | Iraq | ISIS

Rand Paul Remains Quiet on Iraq

Image: Rand Paul Remains Quiet on Iraq

By Melissa Clyne   |   Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 10:01 AM

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has kept his opinions about the United States’ role in the current situation in Iraq uncharacteristically close to the vest, according to The Daily Beast.

"He’s trying to be very thoughtful on this," a Paul aide told The Daily Beast. "There are no easy solutions."

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Considered a likely GOP presidential contender in 2016, the notoriously provocative tea party-aligned senator has adopted a much more measured demeanor concerning Iraq. In the past, he has questioned the United States’ Middle East policy and has been unequivocal that he would have voted against invading Iraq from the beginning, speculating that the United States did so under "manipulated intelligence."

As the terrorist group ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – fights to seize control of Iraq, Paul has done little weighing in on the recommended course of action.

He has taken the posture that if the United States is going to be involved in a "new war … the job of Congress is to vote on it."

"I don’t think you can have a Congress of 10 years ago make a decision for the people here 10 years later," Paul said, according to The Hill.

In Idaho over the weekend, Paul said he would oppose putting U.S. troops on the ground, but would be open to airstrikes, according to the Idaho Statesman, which noted Paul’s remarks in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting last week in which he said "[Iraq] might have been a little more stable when we had that awful guy Hussein, who hated the Iranians."

He clarified those comments in Idaho, explaining that "when you had Sunnis ruling Iraq and Shiites ruling Iran, you had somewhat of a stalemate. By removing the Sunnis in Iraq, you have now destabilized the situation, and you actually have ... more of a Shiite hegemony now."

The Daily Beast wrote that by avoiding "foreign policy specifics," Paul can spotlight executive power, "a bread-and-butter issue for the libertarian-leaning senator."

Also over the weekend, Paul indicated to The Des Moines (Iowa) Register that he’s not opposed to helping the Iraqis, but that it’s "time they step up," referring to reports that members of the Iraq military are stripping off their uniforms and running.

"It concerns me that we would have to do their fighting for them because they won't fight for their own country, their own cities," he told the newspaper.

Paul said he’s not opposed to helping arm the Iraqis and that he would not rule out airstrikes, but deploying troops is a "last resort."

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