Rand Paul’s epic ISIS flip-flop

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from MSNBC,

After expressing reluctance to intervene against ISIS over the summer, Sen. Rand Paul abruptly shifted gears on Thursday and announced he supports military action to eliminate the Islamist group.

“The military means to achieve these goals include airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria,” the Kentucky Republican and likely 2016 presidential hopeful wrote in an op-ed in TIME. “Such airstrikes are the best way to suppress ISIS’s operational strength and allow allies such as the Kurds to regain a military advantage.”

Paul’s hawkish turn comes after months of hedging and skeptical comments regarding U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria. Yet Paul boasted on Thursday that as president he would have committed to a grand plan to eliminate ISIS earlier and more effectively than President Obama.

“If I had been in President Obama’s shoes, I would have acted more decisively and strongly against ISIS,” Paul said. “I would have called Congress back into session—even during recess.”

Paul’s new position challenges his longtime reputation as a champion of non-interventionism. His brand of foreign policy generally rests on avoiding conflicts abroad, ending foreign aid, and an intense skepticism toward international institutions. Paul addressed this disconnect in his op-ed.

“Some pundits are surprised that I support destroying the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militarily,” he said. “They shouldn’t be. I’ve said since I began public life that I am not an isolationist, nor am I an interventionist. I look at the world, and consider war, realistically and constitutionally.”

The main reason “pundits” may be surprised, however, is because of Paul’s past statements, many of which seem to contradict the hawkish strategy the hypothetical Paul administration apparently would have implemented years ago to contain ISIS.

When ISIS initially captured large swaths of Iraqi territory in June, Paul’s response was mainly to criticize former President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for enabling ISIS’ rise by launching the US. invasion of Iraq. In fact, Paul specifically argued that Obama didn’t deserve scorn for failing to prevent the insurgent gains as a result. And while his new op-ed criticizes Obama for saying he still hasn’t decided on a strategy to confront ISIS, Paul himself has made similar comments in arguing there might not be a viable strategy to defeat ISIS.

“What’s going on now, I don’t blame on President Obama,” Paul said in a June 22 interview with NBC’s Meet The Press. “Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution.”

Paul said in that interview he was on the fence about airstrikes, but sounded far less enthusiastic about committing the U.S. to a major campaign against ISIS than he does now.

“Should not the Shiites, the Maliki government, should they not stand up?” he asked in the June 22 interview. “And, if they’re ripping their uniforms off and fleeing, if they don’t think Mosul is worth saving, how am I going to convince my son or your son to die for Mosul?”

He added, “Yes, we should prevent them from exporting terror; but, I’m not so sure where the clear-cut, American interest is.”

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