Rand Paul Criticizes U.S. for Arming 'Islamic Rebels Who Kill Christians,' Blames Maliki for Iraq Crisis

By Barbara Boland | July 1, 2014 | 1:09 PM EDT

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the U.S. for arming "Islamic rebels who kill Christians" in Syria and who are now militant in Iraq and said "the person most culpable" for the crisis in Iraq is President Maliki. Paul hit back at Sean Hannity's oversimplification of the Iraq crisis and attempts to blame President Obama and Democrats on Hannity's radio show this week.

Hannity harangued Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for saying "I don't blame Obama" for the current situation in Iraq on David Gregory's Meet the Press.

Hannity told Paul that President Obama "left the Iraqis hanging," the "surge in Iraq worked," that violence had been down to pre-war levels and all the Iraqis needed was "our intelligence, our training" and that it was Obama's fault the U.S. did not stand "our ground with those simple things."

"I think there's a lot of reasons why these radical Sunni groups that are associated with al Qaeda - this ISIS group - they've become stronger. But one of the reasons they've become stronger is that we've been allied with them in Syria. We've been funding Islamic rebels who kill Christians. We've been funding Islamic rebels to fight against Iranian proxies in Syria - but now we're on the other side of the world, we'd be siding with the Iranian guard. If we actually put troops in, we'd ..."

"No I'm not saying that at all," Hannity interrupted Paul. "I'm not saying what the President is offering right now with 300 troops there, at this late date - you see what happened is, we had the situation under control. We had an emerging democracy, an ally of the United States, imperfect as it is, it's better than it was." Hannity has always been an unapologetic apologist for the Iraq war, and he continued to defend his position with Paul.

Hannity complained that Democrats had "politicized" the war and "by leaving early, we've basically given up all those things that we gained."

"But I think also - we shouldn't always say that it's just our fault, or any one person's fault over here," Paul said. "For example, the person most culpable in all of this is [Iraqi President Nouri al-] Maliki. He kicked the Sunnis out of his army, he made his government a Shiite government, a Shiite army. And so you had Shiites in the city of Mosul which is predominantly Sunni, and they ran when the war came. And so really Maliki deserves a lot of the blame."

"I'm not disagreeing on Maliki," Hannity said. "But here's the issue: had the President not pulled out. Once Democrats politicize a war, we cannot win a war. We ought not be fighting wars that we're not in it to win. Because by pulling out early, all the gains of 4,000 Americans that died there, city after city that they fought so hard for, has now toppled. That's Obama's fault, that's not Dick Cheney's fault."

Paul responded that part of Reagan's doctrine on war was that when we go to war, we have clear objectives and that we do not limit our soldiers or tie their arms behind their back. "But there is a question though, and I'm not saying it's an easy answer - could we have stopped this outbreak of ISIS? How many troops would it have required? 50-, 100,000?"

"I'll give you one possible scenario," Paul said. "Let's say we had left 1,000 troops [in Iraq] and they were divided around the country and Mosul had about 1,000 and ours had been overrun by this uprising. Then where would we be? We'd be back in the middle of a war right now."

"Can we subdue them?" Paul asked. "Did the surge work? Absolutely we can, the surge worked. Do we have the military might to subdue them again? Yeah, 50- to 100,000 troops we can do it - but this is my point and I feel very strongly about this because I have three teenage boys - if the Shiites won't fight for Mosul I'm not sending my son."