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Rand Paul: 'We Need to Stay the Heck Out of Their Civil War'

The possible 2016 contender says he supports a fight against ISIS but that arming the Syrian rebels is "a fool's errand."

Calling the president’s plan to confront ISIS “absurd,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday blasted the proposal to arm and train Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic terror group.

“It's messy,” he said in a passionate 45-minute speech on the Senate floor. “It's unclear. There are bad people on both sides. We need to stay the heck out of their civil war.”

Paul also strongly objected to the idea that the Senate will not hold a separate vote on the authorization to arm the rebels. That measure has been combined with a larger short-term spending bill meant to prevent a government shutdown.

“Sending arms to so-called moderate rebels in Syria is a fool's errand and will only make ISIS stronger," said the Kentucky Republican. "America should only go to war to win. We shouldn't go to war sort-of-meandering our way through a spending bill."

Paul has developed a reputation as a leading Republican non-interventionist for eschewing foreign conflicts and calling for the elimination of foreign aid. In recent weeks, though, the possible 2016 contender Paul has tried to make the case that he is not “an isolationist” and said that he supports a military strategy to destroy ISIS.

"It's not that I'm against all intervention,” he said Thursday. “I do see ISIS as a problem. ISIS is now a threat to us. But I see our previous policy as having made it worse."

- Katie Wall and Carrie Dann