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Rand Paul on War & Peace

 


Negotiate with Iran, but from a position of strength

Q [to Gov. Walker]: You've said that you would tear up the Iran deal on day one.

WALKER: You terminate the deal on day one, you put in place even more crippling sanctions..

Q: Senator Paul, would you tear up the deal on day one?

PAUL: I oppose the Iranian deal, and will vote against it. I don't think that the president negotiated from a position of strength, but I don't immediately discount negotiations. I'm a Reagan conservative. Reagan did negotiate with the Soviets. But you have to negotiate from a position of strength, and I think President Obama gave away too much, too early. If there's going to be a negotiation, you're going to have to believe somehow that the Iranians are going to comply. I asked this question to John Kerry, I said "do you believe they're trustworthy?" and he said "No." And I said, "well, how are we gonna get them to comply?" I would have never released the sanctions before there was consistent evidence of compliance.

Source: Fox News/Facebook Top Ten First Tier debate transcript , Aug 6, 2015

Keep on mind on Iran nukes but don't trust the ayatollahs

Q: This controversy about a U.S.-Iran nuclear development agreement--this seems totally bogged down in partisan politics.

PAUL: Occasionally, I can be partisan, but, on this, I don't think I would jump to the conclusion that, all of a sudden, the ayatollah of Iran is telling the truth, and my government is lying to us. Now, the biggest problem we have right now is that every time there is a hint of an agreement, the Iranian foreign minister tweets out in English that the agreement doesn't mean what our government says it means. So I keep an open mind as to who is telling the truth. It is very, very damaging to the American public, and to the details of this agreement, if we can't trust the sincerity or the credibility of the Iranian government

Q: So, at this point, you have an open mind about this?

PAUL: Yes. I want peace. I want negotiations. I don't want another war. But I also want a good agreement.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2015 coverage:2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 12, 2015

Oppose bombing Assad in Syria because it strengthens ISIS

I didn't support the arming of the Syrian rebels, because I felt like it would make al Qaeda and ISIS worse. I didn't support the bombing of Assad. President Obama supported the bombing of Assad, and so did the neocons in my party. So, really, they're together in supporting many of these interventions. And I have been the one not supporting these interventions, because I feared, if you bombed Assad, you would allow ISIS to go stronger.

There are two million Christians in Syria. And you know what? If you asked them who would they choose, they would all choose Assad over ISIS, because they see the barbarity of perhaps both. But they see the utter depravity and barbarity of ISIS. And so bombing Assad probably isn't a good policy.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 12, 2015

Create & arm a Kurdish state as support against ISIL

In a Time magazine op-ed titled "Rand Paul: 'I Am Not an Isolationist,'" he argued that President Barack Obama hasn't been aggressive enough against militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Paul recently called for giving the Kurds, who are battling ISIL, their own country, although during his speech this week he shunned the idea of nation-building.

Paul's support for the Kurds includes giving them more weapons, but he doesn't feel the same about Syrian rebels for reasons that include fear the arms would land in the hands of extremists. He also insists the Obama administration was wrong to intervene in Libya.

Source: Politico.com 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 7, 2015

War only when all other measures are exhausted

In a speech last year, Paul referenced former President Ronald Reagan and others as he laid out his case for "conservative realism," which essentially argues that the U.S. needs to be more picky about its foreign entanglements: "War is necessary when America is attacked or threatened, when vital American interests are attacked and threatened, and when we have exhausted all other measures short of war," Paul said.
Source: Politico.com 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 7, 2015

Hillary's War: Ousting Gadhafi in Libya gave rise to ISIS

Calling it "Hillary's war," Sen. Rand Paul told voters that the US intervention in Libya has been an "utter disaster" that empowered radical Islamist groups such as Islamic State.

Paul said Hillary Clinton was to blame for what he described as foreign-policy failures: she was a proponent of interventions during popular uprisings against the ruling regimes in Libya and Syria. "Hillary's war in Libya has been an utter disaster," Paul said. "There are now jihadists roaming all across Libya. It's a jihadist wonderland."

The US was part of an international coalition to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power in 2011. "Gadhafi was a secular dictator," Paul said. "Not the kind of guy that we want to have representing us in country, but he was secular. He didn't like radical Islam, and he kept them down because they were a threat to him. What happened when we toppled the secular dictator? Chaos. More radical Islam."

Source: 2015 Wall Street Journal on 2016 presidential hopefuls , Feb 7, 2015

Supporting rebels in Syrian Civil War gave rise to ISIS

Paul argued that US foreign policy in Libya, Syria & elsewhere had helped create threats such as Islamic State. Paul said Hillary Clinton was to blame for what he described as foreign-policy failures [because she] was a proponent of interventions during popular uprisings against the ruling regimes in Libya and Syria. Paul called the former secretary of state the "biggest cheerleader" for intervention in Syria and Libya and said that those policies had empowered radical Islamic groups in both countries.

In Syria, Paul said that Islamic State--a militant group operating in Syria and Iraq that is also known as ISIS--was essentially created by the US aid program under the Obama administration. "I think we have to do something about ISIS," he said. "But, you know why we're doing something and why we have to be there again? Because of a failed foreign policy that got us involved in a Syrian Civil War. By supporting the Islamic rebels, ISIS grew stronger and stronger. And now we have to go back."

Source: 2015 Wall Street Journal on 2016 presidential hopefuls , Feb 7, 2015

Arming Syrian rebels wades into another civil war

Three likely Republican White House contenders thrust the party's foreign policy divide into the spotlight with their votes and comments on a measure to arm moderate Syrian rebels. While Florida Senator Marco Rubio voted in favor of the plan, which passed, Kentucky's Rand Paul and Texas Senator Ted Cruz voted against it, with Paul opposing intervention.

"Intervention is a mistake. Intervention when both sides are evil is a mistake. Intervention that destabilizes the Middle East is a mistake. And yet, here we are again, wading into a civil war," Paul said.

His doubts ran contrary to the thinking of Rubio, who advocated an aggressive response, saying the threat should have been addressed earlier. "If we do not confront and defeat ISIL now we will have to do so later, and it will take a lot longer, be a lot costlier, and be more painful," Rubio said, using an acronym for Islamic State. "If we fail to approve this, the nations of that region will say America is not truly engaged."

Source: Reuters 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Sep 18, 2014

GOP is too eager for war; and so is Hillary

Republicans have traditionally staked out a more muscular platform on national security issues than Democrats, but that script could flip if the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) predicted in a clip released Friday by NBC News: "If you wanna see a transformational election, let the Democrats put forward a war hawk like Hillary Clinton," Paul said in the interview, which will air in full on Sunday's "Meet the Press." "You'll see a transformation like you've never seen."

Of course, that's only likely to be the case if Paul can defeat his more hawkish GOP rivals for the Republican nomination. Recent public polls have reflected a competitive race, with Paul and several others jockeying for the top spot. The Kentucky Republican has publicly feuded with many in his party about national security issues, saying the GOP has at times appeared "too eager for war," and that the US should be more judicious in the use of military force.

Source: Jake Miller on CBS News, "Bring on war hawk Hillary" , Aug 23, 2014

Assist Iraqi government against ISIS, but not Syrian rebels

Gov. Perry writes, "the president can and must do more with our military and intelligence communities to help cripple the Islamic State. Meaningful assistance can include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sharing and airstrikes." The US is actually doing all of this now. President Obama has said he might use airstrikes in the future. I have also been open to the same option if it makes sense.

I support continuing our assistance to the government of Iraq, which include armaments and intelligence. I support using advanced technology to prevent ISIS from becoming a threat. I also want to stop sending U.S. aid and arms to Islamic rebels in Syria who are allied with ISIS, something Perry doesn't even address. I would argue that if anything, my ideas for this crisis are both stronger, and not rooted simply in bluster.

If the governor continues to insist that these proposals mean I'm somehow "ignoring ISIS," I'll make it my personal policy to ignore Rick Perry's opinions.

Source: Politico.com editorial by Sen. Paul, "Perry Dead Wrong" , Jul 14, 2014

No US troops in Iraq, even against ISIS

Gov. Perry writes a fictionalized account of my foreign policy, although some of Perry's solutions for the current chaos in Iraq aren't much different from what I've proposed. But the governor and I do have at least one major foreign policy difference: Said Perry forthrightly during a Republican presidential primary debate in 2012, "I would send troops back into Iraq." Obviously, this is something he advocated long before the rise of ISIS. At the time, Perry urged the United States to return troops to Iraq to act as a balance against Iran. Does Perry now believe that we should send U.S. troops back into Iraq to fight the Iranians--or to help Iran fight ISIS?

Unlike Perry, I oppose sending American troops back into Iraq. After a decade of the United States training the Iraq's military, when confronted by the enemy, the Iraqis dropped their weapons, shed their uniforms and hid. Our soldiers' hard work and sacrifice should be worth more than that. Our military is too good for that.

Source: Politico.com editorial by Sen. Paul, "Perry Dead Wrong" , Jul 14, 2014

How many Americans should die to defend Iraq?

Q: [to Gov. Rick Perry]: You really whipped Sen. Rand Paul in an op-ed: "Obama's policies have certainly led us to this dangerous point in Iraq and Syria, but Paul's brand of isolationism would compound the threat of terrorism even further." He responded today. He said, "Unlike Gov. Perry, I am opposed to sending American troops back into Iraq; I support continuing our assistance to the government of Iraq. I support using advanced technology to prevent ISIS from becoming a threat. I also want to stop sending U.S. and arms to Islamic rebels in Syria who are allied with ISIS, something Gov. Perry doesn't even address. I asked Governor Perry, 'How many Americans should send their sons and daughters to die for a foreign country, a nation the Iraqis won't defend for themselves?'" He really takes exception to your criticism.

I disagree with Sen. Paul's representation of what America should be doing, and when you read his op-ed, he talks about basically, what I consider to be, isolationist policies.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 13, 2014

ISIS are nasty terrorists but no clear-cut American interest

Q: Do you see a clear-cut, American interest in Iraq?

PAUL: I see mostly confusion and chaos, and I think some of the chaos is created from getting involved in the Syrian civil war. You have to realize that some of the Islamic rebels that we have been supporting are actually allies of the group that is now in Iraq causing all of this trouble.

Q: ISIS, as a terrorist organization, has been billed by many as a clear and present danger. Do you see that?

PAUL: I look at it on a personal basis. I ask, "Do I want to send one of my sons, or your son, to fight to regain Mosul?" And I think, "Well ya, these are nasty terrorists, we should want to kill them." But I think, "Who should want to stop them more? Maybe the people who live there." Should not the Shiites, the Maliki government, should they not stand up? Yes, we should prevent them from exporting terror; but, I'm not so sure where the clear-cut, American interest is.

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 22, 2014

Iraq War gave Iran regional hegemony & caused Mideast chaos

Q: Former Vice-President Dick Cheney said, "Too many times to count, Obama has told us he is 'ending' the war in Iraq--as though wishing makes it so." Do you agree?

PAUL: Was the war won in 2005, when many of these people said it was won? They didn't really understand the civil war that would break out. And what's going on now, I don't blame on Obama. Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution. But I do blame the Iraq War on the chaos that is in the Middle East. I also blame those who are for the Iraq War for emboldening Iran. These are the same people now who are petrified of what Iran may become, and I understand some of their worry.

Q: You're not a "Dick Cheney Republican" when it comes to American power in the Middle East?

PAUL: What I would say is that the war emboldened Iran. Iran is much more of a threat because of the Iraq War than they were before--before there was a standoff between Sunnis and Shiites--now there is Iranian hegemony throughout the region.

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 22, 2014

Maintain ambiguous policy on containing nuclear Iran

I am unequivocally not for containing Iran. I am also not for announcing that the US should never contain Iran. To be against a "we will never contain Iran" resolution is not the same as being for containment of a nuclear Iran. Rather, it means that foreign policy is complicated.

It is a dumb idea to announce to Iran that you would accept and contain that country if it were to become a nuclear power. But it is equally dumb, dangerous and foolhardy to announce in advance how we would react to any nation that obtains nuclear weapons. If, after World War II, we had preemptively announced that containment of nuclear powers would never be considered, the US would have trapped itself into nuclear confrontations with Russia & China.

I believe all options should be on the table to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, including the military option. I have voted repeatedly for sanctions against Iran and will continue to do so. But I will also continue to argue that war is a last resort.

Source: Washington Post 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 15, 2014

Keep all options on the table, but don't declare war on Iran

Q: You were against the 2012 resolution saying that the US should do anything possible to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

PAUL: I've repeatedly voted for sanctions against Iran. And I think all options should be on the table to prevent them from having nuclear weapons. I'm a stickler on what the wording is, because I don't want to have voted for something that declared war without people thinking through this. They said containment will never, ever be our policy. We woke up one day and Pakistan had nuclear weapons. If that would have been our policy towards Pakistan, we would be at war with Pakistan. The people who say, "by golly, we will never stand for that", they are voting for war.

Q: Could the US live with a nuclear armed Iran?

PAUL: It's not a good idea to announce that in advance. Should I announce to Iran, "well, we don't want you to, but we'll live with it." No, that's a dumb idea to say that you're going to live with it. However, the opposite is a dumb idea too.

Source: ABC This Week 2014 series of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 13, 2014

Don't get stuck in Cold War idea of tweaking Russia

What Rand Paul has been saying about Russia and Ukraine is much more confusing than it is isolationist. When Moscow's pawn fled Ukraine, Sen. Paul wasn't celebrating the triumph of the Kiev democracy movement, but said, "Some on our side are so stuck in the Cold War era that they want to tweak Russia all the time and I don't think that is a good idea." Paul said he wanted "respectful" relations with Russia.

Paul's dovish line started to seem a bit embarrassing when men with unmarked uniforms began to seize control of parts of Crimea. Paul then issued this timid warning for the Kremlin: "Russia should be reminded that stability and territorial integrity go hand in hand with prosperity. Economic incentives align against Russian military involvement in Ukraine."

Eight days later, he published an essay in Time under the headline, US Must Take Strong Action Against Russian Aggression. He wrote, "It is our role as a global leader to be the strongest nation in opposing Russia's latest aggression."

Source: Forbes Magazine 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 11, 2014

Executive Branch can initiating war is a usurpation of power

It isn't so much what President Obama has done, although he's done a lot, none very little good, but it's not what he's done with his usurpations of power as much as it is the precedent that it sets for lawlessness that may follow. If the Executive Branch can initiate war, if the Executive Branch can detain citizens without trial, if it can amend legislation, if it can declare to Congress that Congress is in recess, then government, unrestrained by law, becomes nothing short of tyranny.

Montesquieu recognized this. He wrote that when the Executive Branch usurps the legislative authority, when the president says, "I can write the laws, watch me," he's got a pen, he's got a phone, he doesn't care what the law is, a tyranny will ensue and we must stop this president from shredding the Constitution.

It isn't just the harm that this president is causing, it's the future harm that he allows by destroying the checks and balances that once restrained each of the branches of government.

Source: Speech at 2014 CPAC convention , Mar 8, 2014

No involvement in Syria, even if gas attack proven

Q: The intelligence suggests this was a sarin gas attack at the hands of the Assad government. Is that enough for you to now vote to authorize the president to use force?

PAUL: No. And I think it's a mistake to get involved in the Syrian civil war. I would ask, "Do you think that it's less likely or more likely that chemical weapons will be used again if we bomb Assad?" Is it more likely or less likely that we'll have more refugees in Jordan or that Israel might suffer attack? I think all of the bad things that you could imagine are all more likely if we get involved in the Syrian civil war.

Q: Secretary Kerry says for you and others not to authorize force is really hurtful to US credibility.

PAUL: The one thing I'm proud of the president for is that he's coming to Congress in a constitutional manner & asking for our authorization. That's what he ran on: his policy was that no president should unilaterally go to war without congressional authority. And I'm proud that he's sticking by it.

Source: Meet the Press 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Sep 1, 2013

No US interests in either side of Syrian war

Q: The president says that the US must draw a line at the use of chemical weapons. Do you agree with that line in the sand?

PAUL: The line in the sand should be that America gets involved when American interests are threatened. I don't see American interests involved on either side of this Syrian war. I see Assad, who has protected Christians for a number of decades, and then I see the Islamic rebels on the other side who have been attacking Christians. I see Al Qaeda on the side we would go into support. And I don't see a clear-cut American interest. I don't see [the rebels, if] victorious, being an American ally.

Q: How would the US look if the president decided to take military action and Congress does not give that authority?

PAUL: I think it would show that he made a grave mistake when he drew a red line. When you set a red line that was not a good idea to beginning with, and now you're going to adhere to it to show your machismo, then you're really adding bad policy to bad policy

Source: Meet the Press 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Sep 1, 2013

No US weapons to kill Christians in Syria

Rand Paul continued to stress that "Congress declares war, not the president." Start with the Constitution, he said in an interview. "We have a separation of powers. The constitution says when we go to war Congress declares war, the president executes the war so congress doesn't get involved in the details of the war, but congress does have a very important role in whether we go to war or not."

Paul, a reliably libertarian voice, said in a statement that the situation in Syria lacks a "clear national security connection" to the U.S. but that the nation "should condemn the use of chemical weapons." There needs to be an "open debate in Congress over whether the situation warrants U.S. involvement."

Among his concerns, Paul said, is that there are "too many Christians that live in Syria... and I just don't want to see my kids or weapons of the U.S. used to kill Christians in Syria."

Source: ABC News "Candidates stand on Syria" , Aug 31, 2013

It is unacceptable not to hate war

I'm not a pacifist, but I do think it unacceptable not to hate war. I'm dismissive of those who champion war as sport and show no reluctance to engage in war. Any leader who shows glee or eagerness for war should not be leading any nation. I believe truly great leaders are reluctant to go to war and try mightily to avoid war.

Though I detest violence, I could kill someone who injured or threatened my family. Though I hate war, I could commit a nation to war, but only reluctantly and constitutionally and after great deliberation. I believe that though some would find this a contradiction in terms that there is a such thing as a Christian or just theory of war, that a just war is a war of self-defense. At the same time I'm conflicted. I don't believe Jesus would have killed anyone or condoned killing, perhaps not even in self-defense. I'm conflicted.

Source: Speech at 2012 Values Voters Summit , Sep 14, 2012

Staying in Afghanistan will not make America safer

Last month President Obama announced plans for withdrawing by next summer the approximately 30,000 American troops sent to Afghanistan as part of the 2009 surge. We commend the president for sticking to the July date he had outlined for beginning the withdrawal. However, his plan would not remove all regular combat troops until 2014. We believe the US is capable of achieving this goal by the end of 2012. America would be more secure and stronger economically if we recognized that we have largely achieved our objectives in Afghanistan and moved aggressively to bring our troops and tax dollars home.

Sometimes our national security warrants extreme sacrifices. In this case, however, there is little reason to believe that the continuing commitment of tens of thousands of troops on a sprawling nation-building mission in Afghanistan will make America safer. Al Qaeda's presence in Afghanistan has been greatly diminished. Al Qaeda has a much larger presence in a number of other nations.

Source: 2011 official Senate press release, "Let's Not Linger" , Jul 4, 2011

Opposed to Iraq War; no direct threat & no declared war

Unlike Afghanistan, I would not have voted to go to war with Iraq, not only because there was no link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, but because that country did not pose a threat to the United States.

I will not vote to go to war without a formal declaration of war, as our soldiers deserve and the Constitution demands.

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p.143&246 , Feb 22, 2011

Would have voted against a declaration of war against Iraq

In contrast to Palin's rote recitation of justifications for overthrowing Saddam, Paul says he would have voted against a declaration of war against Iraq. During the runup to the US invasion, he says that there "was some question whether intelligence was manipulated."

"The strange thing about Hussein & Iraq is that we actually had been their biggest ally for 20 years because we saw them as a bulwark against the Iranian dominance of the region. I don't think there was a reason to go into Iraq," he said.

Source: CBS News, Coop's Corner, "Palin: Big Tent Republican?" , Feb 1, 2010

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Page last updated: Aug 16, 2015