Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April 8, 2015:
The Presidential race for 2016 is gearing up and candidates are preparing themselves for the upcoming campaign. On April 7, 2015, Senator Rand Paul became the second candidate to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He follows Ted Cruz, whose profile by Clarion Project can be viewed by clicking here.
As each candidate announces their intention to run, Clarion Project will provide a summary of each candidate’s positions on issues relating to Islamic extremism, in order to help our readers make the most informed possible choice come voting day. Should there be any significant changes, we intend to update our readers on the positions of any given candidate.
As Clarion is a bipartisan organization, we will not be endorsing any party or any candidate. All information provided is intended as informative only and should not be taken as evidence of Clarion’s preference for any given candidate.
– Single-term Republican Senator from Kentucky (2011-Current). Serves on Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Homeland Security Committee
– Son of Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012. (Ron Paul was known for characterizing Islamic extremism as a response to U.S. foreign policy and hostility towards Israel. He opposed the raid in Pakistan that killed Osama Bin Laden. He recently suggested that the U.S. government knew Bin Laden’s location and did not take action because it needed an “excuse” for “invading various countries.”)
Record on Islamic Extremism
– There is a “worldwide war on Christianity” by a “fanatical element of Islam.”
– “Radical Islam will only end when Islam begins to police Islam” and an Islamic enlightenment happens.
– Islamic extremism is a product of both anger over U.S. foreign policy and radical ideology.
– “We must understand that a hatred of our values exists,and acknowledge that interventions in foreign countries may well exacerbate this hatred,” he says.
– “Some anger is blowback, but some anger originates in an aberrant and intolerant distortion of religion that wages war against all infidels. We can’t be sentimental about neutralizing that threat, but we also can’t be blind to the fact that drone strikes that inadvertently kill civilians may create more jihadists than we eliminate.”
– Stated in a 2007 interview on the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones Show that, “it’s ridiculous to think they [the Iranian regime] are a threat to our national security” or to Israel’s. He urged activism to stop military action against Iran.
– Blocked bipartisan legislation to sanction Iran in 2012 because he wanted an amendment that spelled out that it shall not be interpreted as authority for using military force. He later voted for sanctions on Iran.
– Voted against a Senate resolution ruling out a policy of containment towards a nuclear-armed Iran. However, he said the U.S. should have a plan to contain a nuclear Iran, but it should remain private:
“I think it’s not a good idea to announce that in advance. Should I announce to Iran, well, we don’t want you to, but we’ll live with it? No that’s a dumb idea to say that you’re going to live with it. However, the opposite’s a dumb idea, too.”
He later clarified that he opposes a containment policy, but that the option should not be ruled out.
– Opposes implementing new sanctions on Iran during nuclear negotiations. He said he’d support new sanctions if a deal is not reached.
– It is “imperative” that the U.S. and Iran engage diplomatically to reach a deal for “limiting” its uranium enrichment.
– Favors cultural engagement with Iran as an alternative to military action.
“Iran has a large undercurrent of people who like the West. They like our music, our culture, out literature, and so I think we can influence people in those ways. I’d rather do that than go to war with Iran.”
Iraq and ISIS
– Opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, which he blames for the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS).
– In 2008, accused the U.S. government of dishonestly invading Iraq in order to enrich the multinational corporation Halliburton. He said that “9/11 became an excuse for a war they already wanted in Iraq.” The depiction of the U.S. government as waging war for money is a common Islamist theme.
– Supports U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He supports a limited role for U.S. ground troops in Iraq for securing diplomatic facilities, advising, intelligence-gathering and operations against high-value targets. However, says direct combat with the Islamic State should be done by Arabs and not American soldiers.
– U.S. should involve Turkey and the Syrian and Iranian regimes in fighting the Islamic State.
– U.S. should create an independent Kurdistan to encourage them to “fight like hell” against the Islamic State. Paul explicitly said, “I would go one step further: I would draw new lines for Kurdistan [in Iraq], and I would promise them a country.”
Muslim Brotherhood & Egypt
– Opposed U.S. military aid to the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and tried to stop the sale of F-16s.
– Advocated the complete severing of U.S. aid to Egypt in response to the popularly-supported overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood. He criticized the Obama Administration for not calling it a “coup,” which would require the stopping of aid. Paul described the new Egyptian government as a “military junta.”
– In a 2011 op-ed, he criticized President Obama for not withdrawing from Afghanistan quickly enough. He said that combat troops should be removed by 2013, not 2014.
– Opposed U.S. support for Syrian rebels and favors neutrality in the Syrian civil war because “there is no clear U.S. national interest in Syria.”
– U.S. policy should be to pursue a negotiated settlement that involves the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad but retaining parts of the regime so Islamist rebels cannot threaten the Christian minority.
– Opposed potential U.S. airstrikes on the Syrian regime in retaliation for using chemical weapons.
– Opposed the U.S.-led military intervention in Libya that led to the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, saying that it created a safe haven for Islamist terrorists.
– Wants Americans to boycott Saudi Arabia, but not the U.S. government. He said the country should be treated like apartheid South Africa.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.