- Sen. Rand Paul called those pushing for arming Syrians "enablers" of war
- Paul has been embroiled in a bitter debate with Sen. John McCain over foreign policy
- McCain pushed back against the criticism that moderate fighters don't exist in Syria
Hours before the Senate votes on whether to arm Syrian rebels to fight ISIS, a thinly veiled smackdown broke out on Thursday between Sens. Rand Paul and John McCain about the issue.
It was the latest episode in a public feud that has implications over the future of the Republican Party.
Paul railed against the notion that arming Syrian rebels is going to be an effective tactic to fight ISIS, lambasting what he called "barnacled enablers" for pushing a policy that he said will harm American interests in the long run.
"They've never met a war they didn't like," Paul said on the Senate floor Thursday of the "Washington crowd" without naming names.
Paul has been embroiled in a bitter debate within his party over foreign policy, especially with McCain. The debate between the two has become personal as McCain has labeled Paul an isolationist and as having a "fundamental lack of understanding" of international threats.
Paul, who is considering a presidential run, did not mention McCain's name, but references to the long-time Arizona Senator were peppered throughout.
"What we have here is a failure to understand," Paul said, that "intervention creates chaos."
In a very thinly veiled swipe, Paul once again brought up a debunked report that McCain took pictures with members of ISIS before he completely understood the dynamics of the group.
"To those who wish unlimited intervention and boots on the ground everywhere, remember the smiling poses of politicians pontificating about so-called freedom fighters and heroes in Libya, in Syria and Iraq unaware of that the so-called freedom fighters may well have been allied with kidnappers and killers and jihadists," Paul said.
Paul says that arming Syrians before we have a complete understanding of who they are and where their alliances align is dangerous.
"It's absurd," Paul said of the policy. "We shouldn't be fighting alongside jihadists."
Moments after Paul finished his speech, McCain took to the microphone and pushed back against that argument, insisting moderate fighters do exist in Syria.
"What's their solution?" McCain rhetorically asked opponents, including Paul.
This is Paul's question: "When will we quit listening to the advocates who have been wrong about every foreign policy position of the last two decades?"
The Senate is voting on a government spending package to fund the government and in it is a measure to allow arming and training Syrian rebels.