Rand Paul: Stay Out of Iraq's 'Jihadist Wonderland'

Sunday, 22 Jun 2014 11:17 AM

By Greg Richter

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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul warned Sunday that more U.S. military action in Iraq could lead to a "jihadist wonderland" in the region.

Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" and NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Paul blamed American intervention in Syria on the current crisis in Iraq, where the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS,  is continuing to take over northern cities.

The United States is arming rebels fighting against the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad. Those rebels are aligned with ISIS, which has spread across the border into Iraq.

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"We went into Libya and we got rid of that terrible Gadhafi. Now it's a jihadist wonderland over there. There's jihadists everywhere," Paul told CNN's Candy Crowley. "If we were to get rid of Assad, it would be a jihadist wonderland in Syria. It’s now a jihadist wonderland in Iraq precisely because we got over-involved."

Paul, like most, said he wants to avoid putting ground troops in Iraq, but he also said he wouldn't support airstrikes either until he sees whether troops fighting under Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki will defend their own land. They have laid down their U.S.-supplied weapons and fled in Mosul and other cities.

"If the Shi'ites are not willing to fight for their country it may be that their country is not going to exist," Paul told CNN.

Paul said he doesn't see ISIS as a threat to the United States, at least not at the moment.

"Right now if you’re a member of ISIS, you’re looking at the Shi'ites right in front of you in the battles you are fighting," he said. "I don’t believe that ISIS is right now in the middle of a battle saying, 'Hmmm, I think we're going to send intercontinental missiles to America.'"

Paul told NBC's David Gregory he doesn't question President Barack Obama's decision to send 300 military advisers to Iraq, because the United States has a large embassy with up to 2,000 people in it to protect. And since he has been a big critic of the Obama administration's failure to adequately protect the diplomatic facility in Benghazi he would feel hypocritical questioning Obama's current moves.

The possible GOP presidential contender laid some of the blame for Iraq on the Republican administration of George W. Bush. He noted that the Bush White House was wrong on weapons of mass destruction, having the war won in 2005 and easily achieving democracy in the country.

And, he added, Iran has been emboldened in the region as a result of the Iraq war.

He questioned whether U.S. troops today should be bound by decisions made a decade ago.

"Are we at war forever?" he asked on NBC.

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