Republican presidential candidate and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul argued that “we’re a lot worse off with Hussein gone” in Iraq and cited George HW Bush to criticize Jeb Bush’s position on the Iraq War on Wednesday’s “Wolf” on CNN.
Rand said, “I think it’s a really important question, and I don’t think it’s just hypothetical. Because we seem to have a recurring question in the Middle East whether or not it’s a good idea to topple secular strongmen, or secular dictators and what happens after that. You know, Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya was the same kind of scenario. We toppled Gaddafi, a secular dictator, but we got chaos and the rise of radical Islam, and I think we’re more threatened now. But I think the same was true of Saddam Hussein. I think Iran is now stronger and emboldened. In many ways, Iraq is sort of a vassal state to Iran. We worry about Iran getting a nuclear weapon. So, I think we’re a lot worse off with Hussein gone. There’s a civil war going on there.”
He continued, “We were also making a mistake, I think, to try to degrade Assad, because as we degraded the strongman Assad, ISIS grew. So, I think there’s a consistent theme here that every candidate should be asked, and that is, ‘is it a go ahead idea to go into the Middle East, topple governments and hope that something better rises out of the chaos?’ Because recent history seems to show that, you know what, we’re not getting something better, we’re getting something worse.”
Paul was then asked what he would do given the intelligence assessments about Iraq’s WMD programs, he answered, “Well, the thing is, we could also say the same for Assad, until about two years ago. He had stockpiles of chemical weapons. The question is their ability to use the weapons, their proclivity to use the weapons, and also what comes after.”
Rand added, “The first George Bush, you know, Jeb Bush’s dad, thought it would probably be a mistake, Dick Cheney thought it would be a mistake, ultimately, or originally to topple Hussein, that chaos would ensue afterwards, and sure enough it still did happen after Hussein was gone.” And “I think, even at the time, invading Iraq was a mistake and I thought the war, even at the time was a mistake given the intelligence, but now, I think that people should learn their lesson after the war in Libya.”
(h/t Real Clear Politics)
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