Oh dear. Rand Paul, favorite candidate of those who dream of an anti-imperial coalition of hardcore libertarians and the antiwar left, has popped many a bubble this week with his proposed Senate bill to declare war on ISIS.

Supporters will doubtless say that Paul (like another young politician on the make who served as a blank screen for his followers’ aspirations for genuine hope and change) is merely playing “11th dimensional chess” with the move, trying to put America’s war machine back on a Constitutional footing, while outflanking potential rivals for the GOP nomination who might otherwise have painted him as “soft” on killing large amounts of people with massive amounts of expensive and profitable machinery.

But Paul is not simply calling the war machine’s bluff. As Antiwar.com points out, he has already been supporting the American return to war in Iraq; he now wants to codify it, constitutionalize it — and, remarkably, expand it beyond the admittedly porous “limitations” that the Warmonger-in-Chief has placed on the effort so far.

As with every other intervention in the West’s great Terror War, even the militarists’ own intelligence services are pointing out the obvious fact that the war on ISIS is actually strengthening extremism throughout the region and elsewhere. Yet Paul — who has garnered broad national interest chiefly through his antiwar and anti-imperial rhetoric — wants to double down on the new war. He could have moved to have Obama impeached for waging unconstitutional war — but he chose instead to seek legitimization and expansion of America’s decades-long atrocity in Iraq.

The war bill is yet another confirmation that Paul is damn sure running for president in 2016. More shrewd than his father, he knows that you must prove your bloody bona fides to the powers-that-be if you want a chance to take your turn at the top. No doubt the keepers of the coffers of our war profiteers are already looking favorably in young Rand’s direction.

As so many have done before him, Paul has decided that state power — so dreadsome elsewhere, especially if it threatens to restrict the rapacious greed of the powerful in any way or, god forbid, make the least effort at helping anybody — is fine and dandy when it’s used to slaughter people. Especially if you hope to have your own finger on the trigger.

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