By 2011, President Obama was arming Libyan rebels and ordering airstrikes to overthrow Gadhafi. Some of the president’s most vocal supporters were the same Republicans who traveled to Libya two years before to help Libya’s strongman acquire military equipment. Sen. McCain said of the Libyan rebels: “I have met with these brave fighters, and they are not al Qaeda. … To the contrary: They are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation. We should help them do it.”
We did help them, something I opposed on the Senate floor as an unconstitutional overreach by the executive branch. We now have reason to believe that the Libyan rebels did contain elements of al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists.
Empowering Islamic extremists to achieve questionable short-term goals does not serve America’s long-term security or interests. Nor does it serve the interests of nearly 2 million Christians in Syria who fear they could suffer the same fate as Iraqi Christians who were abused and expelled from that country as radical Islamic forces gained influence and power.
These Christians are natural allies of the United States, and if we’re going to seriously discuss any American interests in Syria, the welfare of these Christians is more important than arming Islamic extremists.
History’s primary lesson is that we must learn from the past. Although there are some well-intentioned reasons for wanting to intervene in Syria, there are far more well-documented reasons not to.
Paul is right. While this will no doubt hurt his standing among the hordes of fans of John McCain and Lindsey Graham, it’s a difficult, but pragmatic approach.