A Response to Senator Paul

In his speech Tuesday night in response to President Barack Obama’s speech concerning Syria, Senator Rand Paul (R, KY) had this to say, among other things:

Some argue that American credibility is on the line, that because President Obama drew a red line…. I would argue that America’s credibility does not reside in one man.

If our enemies wish to know if America will defend herself, let them look no farther than our response to 9/11.  When attacked, we responded with overwhelming force and with the military objective of complete victory over our attackers.

Sometimes.  Our enemies also need only look at the Marine and French paratroop barracks in Beirut, at Somalia, and at Benghazi.  Our responses?  The French bombed terrorist positions in the Bekaa Valley.  The US made no response, and ultimately evacuated our forces from Lebanon.  After terrorists seized and desecrated the bodies of Army airmen from a just shot down helicopter, we left, whimpering, Somalia.  After Benghazi, there was much talk about “bringing the perpetrators to justice,” but our actual deeds throughout the ensuing year have been cover-up of the events leading up to and during the attack and murders—while journalists almost routinely contact members of the attacking forces and interview them.

And in that response with overwhelming force in Afghanistan to which Paul refers, we’ve failed in our “objective of complete victory.”  Al Qaeda is stronger than it was on 9/11, having spread from Afghanistan and a few camps in Saudi Arabia to an area that encompasses the Maghreb, the Egyptian Sinai, Yemen, even to Syria where it’s having an instrumental role in that civil war.  The Taliban, unchanged in its philosophy or methods, is poised to resume domination of Afghanistan upon our imminent departure.  These are not because of American failure of arms but because of an American government that has grown “tired of war” and that is slinking home from the contest claiming victory in the face of these long defeats.

It’s certainly true that Obama’s foreign “policy” has been the muddled mumblings of a school boy unschooled in the ways of the world—on that Paul is absolutely correct, albeit his characterization is more polite than mine—but that only makes the job of dealing with a barbarian’s butchery of children and other civilians with chemical weapons proscribed by the civilized world for nearly a century difficult.  It does not justify inaction.

American credibility is on the line, and from that, our security at home and overseas, along with the security of those of our allies who need our support for their security.

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