When Senator Rand Paul said earlier this year that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party,” the lords and ladies of neoconservatism proper came down with a case of the vapors. Think pieces were promptly deployed scolding Paul for his gumption. Bobby Jindal, a town selectman from somewhere, wrote a screed calling out Paul’s “illogical argument.”
Contra Jindal, there’s always been plenty of evidence in favor of Paul’s theory. Now this week we have two more examples of just how right the Kentucky senator was.
The first comes from Rare’s Kevin Boyd by way of the excellent Long War Journal, which reports:
The Islamic State has released photographs from its offensive in the eastern Syrian city of Hasakah. Two of the photos detail the use of the US-made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile.
The current offensive in Hasakah is happening concurrently with an offensive in Kobane in northern Syria, and a renewed push at the Deir al Zour airbase. The assaults come after Kurdish forces made significant gains in the northern Syrian province of Raqqah, considered the “capital” of the Islamic State. Over 100 people, many of them civilians, have been killed in the assaults.
Long War Journal notes this isn’t the first time ISIS fighters have commandeered TOW missiles, which were provided to the supposedly moderate Syrian rebels by the CIA. The Islamic State advertised its use of TOWs during its capture of the Syrian city of Palmyra in May, and the missiles have also been used to attack the Free Syrian Army in the Damascus countryside.
Andrew Bacevich recently vented his aggravation over America sending anti-tank weapons to the Middle East to be used against its own Humvees, which had fallen into the hands of ISIS. Now we know ISIS is using our anti-tank weapons too. Perhaps we can send the Syrian rebels more materiel so they can take out the anti-tank weapons. Anything to keep the eastward river of munitions gushing unabated. Yes, it was a hawkish idea, and yes, it’s helping the Islamic State.
Second, we go to a beachfront resort in Sousse, Tunisia, where a thug named Seifeddine Rezgui murdered 38 tourists last week with armaments fit for a military—a Kalashnikov, a rifle, grenades. Already accounts of heroism are emerging from the massacre, including Muslims who formed a human shield to block the shooter and a tour guide who threw an ashtray at Rezgui before chasing him up the beach. May the victims rest in peace.
ISIS quickly took credit for the gruesome slaughter. But one question left lingering in the salty air was where the killer had received his bristling arsenal and apparent training. Now we know the answer:
Seifeddine Rezgui, the Tunisian man who killed 38 people at the beach resort of Sousse, is thought to have been trained in Libya, security sources say.
A senior official at the Tunisian interior ministry told the Associated Press that Rezgui had been in Libya in January, the same time as two men who attacked a Tunisian museum in March.
Libya, Tunisia’s eastern neighbor, is the same country that hosted the ISIS agent who killed 22 people at a Tunisian museum in March and Islamic State executioners who beheaded large groups of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians. A British envoy warned earlier this year that Libya was at risk of becoming “Somalia on the Mediterranean.” Its present state may be something even worse: a hub that the most callous terrorist group on earth is using to rapidly export violence across North Africa.
The United States is not culpable for these attacks; full responsibility lies with the jihadists. But by washing aside the regime of noted fashion icon Moammar Gaddafi, we destroyed civil order in Libya and created an empty space that was quickly filled by ISIS. That intervention was pushed forward by both Democratic hawks like Hillary Clinton and Republican hawks like Marco Rubio—the same crowd that’s gets all disputatious when called out by Rand Paul.
In 2011, Rubio said we should invade Libya because “peaceful countries run by people that are in search of prosperity are not out there attacking the United States.” Today we have “Somalia on the Mediterranean.” Can anyone deny that Paul had a point?