Rick Perry Attacks Rand Paul On Iraq

July 12, 2014 2:06 p.m.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Friday blasted Sen. Rand Paul’s “isolationist” foreign policy, calling the Kentucky Republican “curiously blind” to the threat Iraqi militants pose to U.S. national security.

Perry wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that he found it “disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), suggest that our nation should ignore what’s happening in Iraq.” That argument is flawed, he wrote, because “it means ignoring the profound threat that the group now calling itself the Islamic State poses to the United States and the world.”

The Texas governor wrote that the Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, was “well-trained, technologically sophisticated and adept at recruitment” and equipped with passports that could allow militants to show up in the U.S. without a visa and potentially wreak havoc, a threat “to which Paul seems curiously blind.”

Perry also slammed Paul for invoking former President Ronald Reagan in the Kentucky senator’s own op-ed advocating against military intervention in Iraq. Paul was “wrong” in writing that Reagan wouldn’t have intervened in Iraq because he “conveniently omitted Reagan’s long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity,” the governor argued.

“In the face of the advancement of the Islamic State, Paul and others suggest the best approach to this 21st-century threat is to do next to nothing,” Perry wrote. “I personally don’t believe in a wait-and-see foreign policy for the United States. Neither would Reagan.”

Both Perry and Paul are considered possible 2016 presidential contenders, and the Washington Post op-ed makes clear how each falls into opposite camps within the GOP with respect to foreign policy. It also wouldn’t be the first time a fellow Republican with presidential ambitions challenged Paul on that ground — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie kicked off a long feud with the Kentucky senator last year when he called the Republican Party’s libertarian strain “dangerous” for foreign policy.

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