Rand Paul argued that, before the U.S. went to war in Iraq, "there had never been any Al-Qaeda or suicide bomber in the history of that country," in his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington, published in 2011.
Given the gravity of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are many basic logistic and commonsense questions that should be asked, but rarely are. Would a war on street gangs in which police invaded and occupied Chicago be effective in getting rid of street gangs nationwide? How about the fact that before we went to war with Iraq there had never been any Al-Qaeda or even a suicide bomber in the history of that country? After we invaded, this was no longer the case.
Paul also wrote that U.S. intervention had increased the threat of Islamic terrorism.
Is it possible that decades of arguably far more intrusive behavior by the United States in Islamic nations has also had an effect on those populations, encouraging and increasing the threat of Islamic terrorism? The CIA created the term blowback to describe this phenomenon and the 9/11 Commission Report cites blowback as a primary cause of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The assertion echoes comments Paul made in 2007 and 2008, while campaigning on behalf of his father, retired Rep. Ron Paul.
"And while Americans a lot of times don't want to hear this, my dad says, 'What would it be like if Fort Bragg were full of 50,000 Chinese soldiers? How many North Carolinians would be planting roadside bombs every time the Chinese drove outside their base. People do not like having foreign soldiers quartered in their land. That's why we rebelled against the British. We didn't like their soldiers here," Paul said then, as BuzzFeed News reported yesterday.
In his announcement speech last week, Paul gestured at intervention against Islamic terrorism specifically, implicitly criticizing President Obama's approach to ISIS.
In his 2011 book, he went on to attack what he called "the standard neoconservative line" on Iraq and Afghanistan.
The standard neoconservative line throughout the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been that America must "fight terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them here," but former head of the CIA's Bin Laden Unit, terrorism expert Michael Scheuer, stresses that they come here precisely because we are over there. Writes Scheuer: "On no other foreign policy issue since the Cold War's end has the truth been so easy to establish on the basis of hard facts but so hard for Americans to see… that Muslim hatred is motivated by U.S. interventionism more than any other factor."
Writing about Iran, Paul cites blogger and professor Daniel Drezner while saying it was "absurd" to claim that nuclear Iran, terrorists, and China were as big as a threat as the Soviet Union was in the 1980s.
Reagan's massive defense build-up occurred during a different era and was done to contain a much different foe. It's somewhat absurd to compare any of the problems we face today, as many and as serious as they may be, with the magnitude of the Soviet menace; or as Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, explained in Foreign Policy: I'm about to say something that might be controversial for people under the age of twenty-five, but here goes. You know the threats posed to the United States by a rising China, a nuclear Iran, terrorists and piracy? You could put all of them together and they don't equal the perceived threat posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And until I see another hostile country in the world that poses a military threat in Europe, the Middle East and Asia at the same time, I'm thinking that current defense spending should be lower than Cold War levels by a fair amount.
Likewise, Paul seemed to dismiss the threat of "a more powerful Iran" later in the book, saying such was only an issue because the Saddam Hussein was out of power.
"Today we are told we must be concerned about a more powerful Iran which, of course, has only become an issue since we defeated their archenemy, Iraq."
Yesterday, when asked to comment on this apparent shift in rhetoric, Paul's campaign did not reply.