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Rand Paul criticizes Clinton’s ‘shoot first’ policy on Syria

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) criticized potential 2016 presidential opponent Hillary Clinton’s Syria policy in an op-ed Wednesday, saying she was “eager to shoot first” without understanding the situation.

Paul argued in the Wall Street Journal that arming the Syrian rebels, as Clinton advocated as secretary of State, would have strengthened the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a Sunni militant group.

{mosads}”To interventionists like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we would caution that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria created a haven for the Islamic State,” Paul wrote.

“We are lucky Mrs. Clinton didn’t get her way and the Obama administration did not bring about regime change in Syria. That new regime might well be ISIS,” he said.

“Mrs. Clinton was also eager to shoot first in Syria before asking some important questions,” he added.

The sharp criticism is only the latest from Paul directed against Clinton, the clear Democratic favorite for president in 2016.

On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Paul called Clinton a “war hawk” and said her policies could entangle the U.S. in another Middle East conflict.

In his op-ed Thursday, Paul also cautioned against forcing Syrian leader Bashar Assad out of power, warning that Islamic militants who are fighting him could themselves seize the country.

The Obama administration has called for Assad to leave power but finds itself in a difficult situation as it steps up attacks on ISIS in Iraq and weighs strikes against the militant group in Syria as well.

Paul previously said he has “mixed feelings” about the Iraq strikes.  

“This is not to say the U.S. should ally with Assad,” Paul wrote. “But we should recognize how regime change in Syria could have helped and emboldened the Islamic State, and recognize that those now calling for war against ISIS are still calling for arms to factions allied with ISIS in the Syrian civil war.

“We should realize that the interventionists are calling for Islamic rebels to win in Syria and for the same Islamic rebels to lose in Iraq,” he added.

Paul has caused some worry in the Republican establishment over his foreign policy views.

He used the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial page often calls for a more engaged stance, to argue for a foreign policy focused only on U.S. interests.

“A more realistic foreign policy would recognize that there are evil people and tyrannical regimes in this world, but also that America cannot police or solve every problem across the globe,” Paul wrote.

“Only after recognizing the practical limits of our foreign policy can we pursue policies that are in the best interest of the U.S.”

DNC spokesman Michael Czin hit back at Paul’s op-ed, casting him as making the U.S. less safe by retreating from the world

“That type of ‘blame America’ rhetoric may win Paul accolades at a conference of isolationists but it does nothing to improve our standing in the world,” Czin said in a statement. “In fact, Paul’s proposals would make America less safe and less secure. Simply put, if Rand Paul had a foreign policy slogan, it would be — the Rand Paul Doctrine: Blame America. Retreat from the World.”

Tags Hillary Clinton Iraq Islamic State in Iraq and Syria Rand Paul Syria Syria
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