Senator Rand Paul In A WSJ Op-Ed Piece Argues Against Getting Involved In Iraq The Senator, however, says nothing about the possible threat to America that ISIL in Iraq may create

WASHINGTON – In a well crafted WSJ op-ed piece, (America Shouldn’t Choose Sides in Iraq’s Civil War, June 20, 2014), Rand Paul, a Republican Senator from Kentucky, and the recognized leader of the libertarian-isolationist wing of the GOP, produced many good arguments for staying out of the current Iraq crisis.

Stay out of Iraq

However, without going through all the various (in general sensible) reasons for not getting involved outlined by Senator Paul, including a strict observance to principles laid out by President Reagan, it is important to notice that at no point in his piece Senator Paul even goes near the real issue. At no point does he even consider whether or not the ISlamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, (known also as ISIS), may represent today or tomorrow, (if it is allowed to consolidate its control over about 1/3 of Iraq), a real threat to American national security.

Is ISIL a threat to America?

But this is in fact the issue. We know from experience –remember 9/11?– that Islamic fundamentalists are inherently inimical to the West. They view America as their existential foe. And we have seen how jihadists have used their strongholds in different countries as bases to plot attacks against US interests and/or the US homeland.

So, now here is the question. If we allowed ISIL, this new incarnation of Islamic fundamentalism, to get itself firmly established in one form or another in parts of Syria and Iraq, will this militant entity become a threat to America?

Interestingly enough, Senator Paul does not even address this possibility. For him it is all about getting once again involved in a civil war in far away Middle East country –a messy conflict in which we have little or nothing at stake.

Attacks against the US from ISIL’s bases in Iraq?

Now, I do not claim to know for sure that a jihadist state, or would-be state, will automatically become a replica of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, with training camps filled with volunteers eager to plot another 9/11. Even if some dymanics are very similar, history does not repeat itself that perfectly.

Still, I think that it is important to at least ask the question. Is it possible that ISIL leaders share Osama bin Laden’s dreams about the need to destroy America and the West? If the answer is a clear “no”, If our intelligence could conclude, with complete confidence, that the current conflict in Iraq, whatever ISIL’s ideological/religious foundations, is only a new way to settle the Sunni-Shia unresolved power struggle, then I would say that Senator Paul and all the others who follow his advice are right.

Let the Iraqis fight it out. The Sunni-Shia balance of power in Iraq is their problem, not ours. It is regrettable that the matter will be settled through violence; but this is not our fight. (By the same token, there are several, ongoing civil/tribal/religious conflicts in Southern Sudan, in Mali, in the Central African Republic, in Nigeria and elsewhere. Still, America has no compelling reasons to intervene there. These conflicts, however bloody and violent, do not threaten US national security).

It is in America’s interest to neutralize Jihadists strongholds 

But if a new jihadist stronghold based on all or some of the territory now controlled by ISIL in Syria and Iraq becomes a base from which to plot and launch attacks against US interests, then ISIL is also America’s problem. Therefore, defeating it should be an American objective, not to do any favors to Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki, but to protect US security.

From this perspective, neutralizing ISIL is not about taking sides in an internal Iraqi mess. It is about safeguarding the US national interest.

The fact that Senator Paul in his WSJ article did not even look at this obvious angle is really surprising.







, , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *