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The GOP's Rand Paul Problem

Rand Paul's repeated criticisms of intervention in the Middle East have proven to be a thorn in the side for those who want to return to the bad old days of invasion and occupation.

In recent weeks the Republicans have tried to portray the chaos in the Middle East as a product of the Obama administration's failures. And with some degree of success as the worse things have gotten in Iraq the lower President Obama's approval rating on foreign policy have gotten. But as usual the Republicans have also over-played their hand, when they tried to pretend that our leaving Iraq was the cause, and not the nearly ten years of occupation and war.

Rand Paul made the point today on CNN that in our efforts to remove despots in Iraq, Libya, and Syria we've created "jihadist wonderlands" throughout the Middle East.

RAND PAUL: "We went into Libya and we got rid of that terrible Qaddafi, now it's a jihadist wonderland over there. There's jihadists everywhere. If we were to get rid of Assad it would be a jihadist wonderland in Syria. It's now a jihadist wonderland in Iraq, precisely because we got over-involved."

It's a point that's hard to refute.

And while Rand Paul disagrees with other Republicans that ISIS currently poses a threat to the United States, that they're too busy being embroiled in what amounts to a civil war that the U.S. has no business being part of.

RAND PAUL: "You have to ask yourself, are you willing to send your son, am I willing to send my son to retake back a city, Mosul, that they weren't willing to defend themselves? I'm not willing to send my son into that mess."

And here Paul drives home the point that even Republicans have had to admit: no one wants "boots on the ground", American troops in the middle of someone else's civil war.

Dick Cheney and others have called Rand Paul, like his father, an isolationist, as Cheney said again on another Sunday morning show. The younger, more politically adept and ambitious Paul though, is not the absolutist his father is, accepting air strikes if required and further measures if circumstances dictate.

The other major difference from his father is that Rand Paul is considered one of the serious contenders for the presidential nomination from the Republican Party. It was all too easy to dismiss Ron Paul as a "crank", not so much with the son.

Going forward, with Americans overwhelmingly opposed to ground troops and hostile to more overt military action in the Middle East, and Rand Paul's profile only expected to grow as the presidential race comes into sharper focus next year, his ascendency will only cause further problems for the hawks among his party.

This should be fun to watch. It already is.

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