Sen. Rand Paul has previously supported arming and aiding Kurdish forces in their fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), but now he is calling for the United States to promise the Kurds an independent country as incentive to fight "like hell" against the radical Islamic terror group.
"But I would go one step further: I would draw new lines for Kurdistan and I would promise them a country. I think they would fight like hell if we promised them a country," Paul told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview
"It's a little easier to say than it is to actually make it happen," conceded the potential 2016 presidential contender.
"I think if you did that and could get peace between the Kurds and the Turks, and then the Turks would actually fight if the Kurds would give up any claim to Turkish territory," he said.
The libertarian-leaning Paul was less direct on the subject of an independent Kurdish state in remarks he made at a February fundraiser in Iowa, reports The Des Moines Register
Speaking at a private fundraiser hosted by Republican businessman Steve Sukup, Paul expressed his concern about the strength of ISIS, including their burgeoning weapons stash, and said he would give arms and "more of a homeland" to the Kurdish forces.
"I'd give them more of a homeland. I'd give them a little more of Iraq and a little more of northern Syria and say: 'Go to town. Fight ISIS, and when you're done, you get the land.'
"People say — many in our party: 'There have to be boots on the ground.' I agree. I want the boots on the ground to be Iraqi, Turks, Kurds, Saudis," reported The Des Moines Register, which was the only media outlet with a correspondent present at the event.
The notion of creating an independent Kurdish nation appears to be a break from Paul's long-standing opposition to nation-building, as well an effort to distance himself from the isolationist label with which he has been tagged.
As recently as February's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Paul was advocating for an American foreign policy that was "unencumbered" by nation-building.
"Without question we must defend ourselves. I envision an America with a national defense unparalleled, undefeatable, and unencumbered by nation-building," he said, according to CNN
While it may be the first time that Paul has publicly called for an independent Kurdish nation, he has previously supported sending arms to the Kurds.
In a Time magazine opinion piece
, the Kentucky senator said the U.S. should "arm and aid" Kurdish fighters as part of an overall strategy to combat ISIS.
"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' 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 ISIS," he wrote in the piece which was titled, "I am not an isolationist."
Paul's call for a Kurdish nation may be an effort to break from that isolationist label, and to bring himself more in line with Republican voters, whose views on intervening globally have changed in the last year.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll
released on Monday found more Republicans (79 percent) than likely general election voters (52 percent) voicing support for a candidate who would support using combat troops to fight ISIS.
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