Not only was Senator Paul one of only 22 Senators to vote against a new aid package for the Syrian rebels. (He was joined in this by such Democratic liberal notables as Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand.)
He also gave a 45 minutes Senate floor speech, in which he gave his principled reasons for doing, thus setting himself apart from most of his other Republican colleagues (there were 9 other Republicans who voted 'nay' as well, mostly libertarian leaning and thus potential supporters of a Paul nomination).
If there is one theme that connects the dots in the Middle East, it is that chaos breeds terrorism. What much of the foreign policy elite fails to grasp is that intervention to topple secular dictators has been the prime source of that chaos. From Hussein to Assad to Ghaddafi we have the same history. Intervention topples the secular dictator. Chaos ensues and radical jihadists emerge. The pattern has been repeated time after time and yet what we have here is a failure to understand, a failure to reflect on the outcome our involvement in Arab civil wars. They say nature abhors a vacuum. Radical jihadists have again and again filled the chaotic vacuum of the Middle East. Secular dictators, despots who terrorized their own people, are replaced by radical jihadists who seek terror at home and abroad. Intervention when both choices are bad is a mistake. Intervention when both sides are evil is a mistake. Intervention that destabilizes the region is a mistake.The 'Syrian Free Army'--the supposed recipients of this military aid--will never, in the opinion of many observers, be able to effectively defeat their colleagues--ISIS--in the fight against the Syrian President Assad. They have already announced that they have no intention of doing so. Why should we think they will? This strategy makes no sense to many in both parties and can only make matters worse.
The only possible strategy that might actually work is to cooperate with the current Syrian regime to defeat ISIS. But this administration and this Congress, along with their Israeli allies, are dead-set in their determination to overthrow another Middle Eastern government--Syria--that is allied with Iran, so that is clearly not going to happen.
It seems to me that this decision on the part of the Obama Administration to openly aid the Syrian rebels--in an attempt to fight one of the rebel factions called ISIS--is a major mistake that the American people will quickly tire of and regret.
If that is so, then Senator Paul will be in an excellent position to distinguish himself from other 'pro-war' candidates in the 2016 Presidential contest and gain the support he needs to be competitive.
Of course, the war hawks in both political parties--along with all the institutions of the National Security State that is the US--will be gunning for him, so this will never be an easy thing for a principled non-interventionist like Rand Paul to accomplish.
But frankly, as far as I'm concerned, if it were to come down to Hillary Clinton vs. Rand Paul in November, 2016, I'm pretty sure I know which way I'd go. And it wouldn't be for Clinton #2.