It’s safe to say that President Barack Obama did not win over Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) with his national address on Syria.
In his formal response, Paul hit back at Obama’s case for a military strike in Syria, saying destabilizing the war-torn nation will only encourage Al Qaeda and other radical elements working with the Syrian opposition.
“Twelve years after we were attacked by Al Qaeda, 12 years after 3,000 Americans were killed by Al Qaeda, President Obama now asks us to be allies with Al Qaeda,” he began. “Americans by a large majority want nothing to do with the Syrian civil war. We fail to see a national security interest in a war between a leader who gases his own citizens and Islamist rebels who are killing Christians.”
He also said the U.S. should always have a plan to “win” any time military action is involved.
Paul said there is no “clearly defined” mission or American interest in Syria. “In fact, the Obama administration has specifically stated that no military solution exists,” he added.
The likely 2016 presidential contender then rattled off a list of potential unintended consequences of a military strike in Syria.
“Would a U.S. bombing campaign make it more or less likely that Assad attacks Israel with chemical weapons?” he asked. “Would a bombing campaign in Syria make the region more or less stable? Would it make it more or less likely that Iran or Russia becomes more involved?”
“Just about any bad outcome you can imagine is made more likely by U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war,” he said.
Paul also called “diplomacy” a “welcome solution,” but called on the U.S. to “trust but verify” that the players involved would really honor Russia’s proposal to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.
“We must proceed with caution on the details. But one thing is for certain, the chance for diplomacy would not have occurred without strong voices against an immediate bombing campaign. If we would have simply gone to war last week, or the week before, as many advocated, we wouldn’t be looking at a possible solution today,” Paul said.
The Kentucky senator commended the American people and members of Congress for resisting calls for an immediate strike on Syria. He also said he currently would vote “no” on a resolution authorizing military action against the country and encouraged his fellow lawmakers to do the same.
“The president has not made a compelling case that American interests are at risk in Syria,” he said. “The threshold for war should be a significant one. The president maintains that he has the power to initiate war. This is untrue.”
Paul cited James Madison to make his constitutional case against Obama’s assertion that he doesn’t necessarily need Congress to authorize a military strike.
“May God help us make a wise decision here and avoid an unnecessary war,” he concluded.
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