President Barack Obama once dismissed ISIS (or “ISIL”) as a “junior varsity” outfit. As the terrorist organization has grown in size, wealth, and power, Obama’s allies on the left have moved from dismissing ISIS outright to blaming Republicans for its rise, arguing that it would never have emerged if President George W. Bush had not invaded Iraq. (Democrats’ support for the war is conveniently omitted.) Now, Sen. Rand Paul has joined the left in blaming GOP “hawks” for the rise of ISIS.
“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS. These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS’ job even easier. They’ve created these people,” Paul said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday.
He neglected to mention that ISIS only emerged after President Obama made a unilateral decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq, against his own earlier promises.
In tort law, questions of causation boil down to determining which is the “proximate cause” of an accident or injury–the cause without which an event would not have occurred. There may be many factors in a car accident, for example (both drivers were speeding, both were drunk, both were talking on cell phones) but the proximate cause of the accident (only one driver was going the wrong way on a one-way street) is the most important to the court in assigning blame.
In Iraq, it is certainly true that the ouster of Saddam Hussein, and especially the botched occupation that followed, led to the instability that allowed terror groups to emerge. But it is equally true that the “surge” that the “hawks” supported had routed the terrorists and restored some sense of safety. ISIS did not exist before Obama willfully created a new vacuum.
That is the proximate cause of ISIS’s rise–and what worries many voters is that Paul would have done the same as Obama.