Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has compared the threat of the Islamic State against the U.S. consulate in Erbil to the tragedy that occurred in Benghazi, as he attempted to clarify his reasons for supporting limited military action in Iraq.
The libertarian-leaning Republican senator, who has been called a non-interventionist, told Reason.com
that the safety of American diplomatic personnel at the Iraqi mission must be a major priority of the U.S. government.
"If it was wrong not to protect the consulate in Benghazi, then it's wrong not to protect the consulate in Erbil," he said, noting that the city is close to Mosul in Iraq, which was easily captured by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters earlier this year.
Paul has blamed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration for their failure to approve enough security in the Benghazi mission before it was over-run by militants in 2012, resulting in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The senator has even maintained that Clinton should be precluded from holding political office again due to her lax security handling of the Benghazi compound and her involvement in a potential cover-up on what caused the terrorist action, Reason.com reported.
Paul, who is mulling over a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, has come under fire from libertarians for his statements supporting limited air strikes against ISIS in Iraq in the wake of two American journalists by the brutal extremists.
“Being a non-interventionist doesn't mean that you never intervene" militarily, said Paul, who has also been called an “isolationist” by leading Republicans in his party, including Arizona Sen. John McCain.
While linking the Benghazi attack to a possible siege of the Erbil consulate, Paul told Reason.com that it would be "hypocritical" of him not to support U.S. air power in northern Iraq to prevent ISIS attacking Americans in the Kurdish city.
But he pointed out that there was also “an argument to be made that they [diplomatic personnel] shouldn't be there" in the first place.
However, Paul went on to say that President Barack Obama should have gone to Congress before he ordered the air strikes in Iraq against ISIS, and should do so before U.S. fighters attack the terror group in Syria as well.
“That rule is absolute,” said the senator, noting that the War Powers Resolution act, which is open to wide interpretation, calls for explicit votes in Congress on the use of military force.
"People will draw different lines," he noted, adding that is "precisely why these things need to be discussed and voted on publicly in Congress."
Paul also reiterated his opposition
to plans to arm moderate Syrian rebels, who are fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s loyalist forces while at the same time attempting to repel ISIS insurgents.
"Basically, everything we give to the rebels ends up with ISIS," he told Reason.com.
Paul said he planned to make a “significant speech” in Congress if the “continuing resolution” to fund the government until after the midterm elections contains an amendment calling for the U.S. to finance military action in Syrian, in particular arming the rebels.
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