Rand Paul Explains Why Senate Should Vote ‘No’ On War With Syria

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Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) authored a guest column in Wednesday’s “Ideas” blog on the Time magazine website, forcefully arguing against President Barack Obama’s newfound love of interventionist Mideast policy and drawing sharp distinctions between the proposed Syria strikes and the post-9/11 Afghan war.

Expanding on former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s assertion that, for the U.S., “war should be the politics of last resort,” Paul offered an  unequivocal corollary: “America should only go to war to win.”

As The Washington Post observed Tuesday, Paul has garnered the necessary clout, both in the public eye and within the Senate, to push a discussion of the GOP’s longstanding hawkish stance on military intervention toward a new, far more limited paradigm; one a close Paul ally described as “a resurgent realist foreign policy.”

Syria fails to pass any of the tests Paul ascribes as necessary requisites for Washington to even consider a military strike: threatened American interests, threats against the interests of American allies, a clear path to victory, an exhaustion of nonmilitary, political options, and a clear understanding of our enmities and alliances on the ground.

War should occur only when America is attacked, when it is threatened or when American interests are attacked or threatened. I don’t think the situation in Syria passes that test. Even the State Department argues that “there’s no military solution here that’s good for the Syrian people, and that the best path forward is a political solution.”

The U.S. should not fight a war to save face. I will not vote to send young men and women to sacrifice life and limb for stalemate. I will not vote to send our nation’s best and brightest to fight for anything less than victory. If American interests are at stake, then our goal should not be stalemate.

If American interests are at stake, then it is incumbent upon those advocating for military action to convince Congress and the American people of that threat. Too often, the debate begins and ends with an assertion that our national interest is at stake without any evidence of that assertion. The burden of proof lies with those who wish to engage in war.

Of course, Paul goes on to raise far more questions than the Obama Administration has even publicly countenanced: are we on the same side as Islamic rebels? What will our involvement do to Syrian-Israeli tensions? Are we fighting for the spread of democracy or Islamic theocracy? What happens to the Christian minority – nowadays one of the first casualties of any destabilized Middle Eastern state?

“The President and his Administration have not provided good answers to any of these questions,” he writes. “Those who seek military action have an obligation to publicly address these concerns before dragging our soldiers into another Middle Eastern war. Shooting first and aiming later has not worked for us in the past, and it should not be our game plan now.”

Paul said late Wednesday he would not filibuster a Senate vote on whether to authorize war against Syria, evidently to avoid taking a stance that could be viewed as an obstruction of Congress’ Constitutional power to deliberate and vote on a declaration of war. But he’s made it clear that any such vote should happen quickly – and that he plans to lead the “no” movement from the front.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • http://cowboybyte.com/ Alondra

    On September 3, 2013. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Syria.

    Sen. Rand Paul Lecturing the Secretary of State:
    “Make me proud today, Secretary Kerry.” the Kentucky Republican said. Stand up for us and say you’re going to obey the Constitution and if we vote you down — which is unlikely, by the way — you would go with what the people say through their Congress and you wouldn’t go forward with a war that your Congress votes against,“ Sen. Rand Paul

    Mr. Paul ask johnny kerry (the secretary of state) to be more specific on what the administration will to do if Congress votes against an intervention.

    “I don’t know what the decision is, but I’ll tell you this … [pRresident] still HAS the Constitutional AUTHORITY and he would be in keeping with the Constitution,” – J.K.

    But Rand Paul firmly and beautifully disagreed with johnny and continued to lecture the big and stupid boy johnny:

    ““[James] Madison was very explicit when he wrote the Federalist Papers,” he said. “He wrote that … the Constitution supposes what history demonstrates. That the executive is the branch most likely to go to war and therefore the Constitution vested that power on the Congress.”

    “It’s explicit and runs throughout all of Madison’s writings. This power is a congressional power and is not an executive power. … If we do not say that the Constitution applies, if we do not say explicitly that we will abide by this vote, you’re making a JOKE of us. You’re making us into theater. And so WE PLAY Constitutional THEATER FOR THE pRESIDENT.”

    And kerry went to lie and fear mongering.
    “If the United States of America does not hold him (Assad) accountable for this … it’s a guaranty Assad will do it again. I guaranty … Secondly … We understand what war means and we do not want to go to war … The pResident is asking for the authority to do a limited action. They will degrade the capacity of the Tyrant, who has been using the chemical weapon to kill his own people. It’s a limited. It’s a limited … We do not want to go to war in Syria either. It’s not we here to ask … The pResident is not asking you to go to war. He is not asking to declare war. He is not asking to send ONE American troop to war. He simply saying we need to take an action that can degrade capacity of a man, who is willing to kill his own people by breaking nearly 100 year old prohibition … “ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02k2HU9MhjE

    Johnny kerry is a DEMONcratic LIAR.
    Where is the proof, that the “Tyrant” Assad used chemical weapons?

    Russian President Putin calls johnny Kerry a LIAR for denying al-Qaida group in Syria and repeated Russia’s position that any use of military force against Syria without the approval of the U.N. Security Council would be an ACT OF AGGRESSION. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/09/04/russia-putin-calls-us-secretary-state-kerry-liar-for-denying-al-qaida-group-in/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+foxnews%2Fworld+%28Internal+-+World+Latest+-+Text%29

    Vladimir Putin said Russia may approve military operation in syria IF Damascus is proven to have carried out chemical weapons attacks and UN authorises it.

    Did you ask yourself WHY the Kenyan Kriminal is changing regimes in the ME?
    “Kaddafi must go.” “Mubarak must go.” “Assad must go.” WHO NEXT MUST GO?

    • Jim

      Obama must go next.

      • http://cowboybyte.com/ Alondra

        With ALL evidences about his TRUE identity he should NEVER be here for the second term in the first place.

  • Warrior

    98% of “earthlings” say they have a “red line”. And I’ll bet a lot of “earthlings” call this “progress”? BTW, I did contact Crayola yesterday and ordered a box of 64 for each member of the new “class”.

  • Hank

    Would I risk WAR of any kind because this idiot drew a line in the sand? NO WAY. Let this lame brain eat his words !!!!

  • guest

    Anyone who listens and reads should KNOW that islam KILLS any other religions. Just look at Egypt and how the Christian Copts are either refugees in another country or are being killed, nay, burned alive in their churches. By the Muslim Brotherhood who wish to restore Morsi the tyrant ex President. Who gave him 8billion? You must know, the Muslim in the White house? If you do not know then you read the wrong and biassed news instead of the truth.
    Do you know any refugees? I do, a Coptic Catholic and family who managed to escape.
    Look at Lybia after their ‘arab spring’ And other nations who revolted. Who has taken possession of these nations? Democracy?
    Most of the Syrian rebels are the fanatics who eat the liver and hearts of the fallen soldiers. is this what you want to see on TV if our boys go there???
    No way do I wish to send these brave young men and women to help such a barbarous group.
    DO YOU???

  • Don in Ohio

    Mr. Paul, AMEN.
    I hope that when the vote is taken, it’s a recorded roll call vote so we know how each rep/senator voted!
    None of the voice vote b.s. that they will deny.
    And the ones that vote for this action will NEVER get a vote from me.

  • JimH

    In honor of when Obama was in the Senate, they should all vote “present”.