Sen. Rand Paul’s Response to Obama’s War Speech

Sen. Rand Paul, September 10, 2013

The Senatorial leader of the new antiwar movement takes on Obama’s Syrian war plans:

Twelve years after we were attacked by al-Qaida, 12 years after 3,000 Americans were killed by al-Qaida, President Obama now asks us to be allies with al-Qaida.

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 gasses his own citizens and Islamic rebels who are killing Christians.

Some argue that American credibility is on the line, that because President Obama drew a red line with chemical weapons, America must act or lose credibility. I would argue that America’s credibility does not reside in one man.

If our enemies wish to know if America will defend herself, let them look no farther than our response to 9/11. When attacked, we responded with overwhelming force and with the military objective of complete victory over our attackers.

The Reagan Doctrine grew out of his experience in the Middle East. Reagan’s defense secretary spelled out a systematic approach to our involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts. First, the American people must be supportive – overwhelmingly supportive – but most importantly our mission must be to win.

There is no clearly defined mission in Syria, no clearly defined American interest. In fact, the Obama Administration has specifically stated that "no military solution" exists. They have said the war will be "unbelievably small and limited."

To me that sounds like they are pre-announcing that the military strikes will not punish Assad personally or effect regime change.

It is said that America must act to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons again. But it is unknown whether attacking Assad encourages him or discourages him. It is equally likely that Assad could feel cornered and resort to chemical weapons in an expanded fashion.

It is equally likely that the bombing could de-stabilize Assad and he could lose control of the chemical weapons. The Obama Administration has indicated that it would take 75,000 ground troops to secure the weapons and that they are prepared to do just that despite the resolution’s admonition against ground troops.

The question must be asked, "Would a U.S. bombing campaign make it more or less likely that Assad loses control of the chemical weapons?"

The same question can be asked of a series of bad outcomes. "Would a US bombing campaign make it more or less likely that Assad attacks Israel with chemical weapons?"

Would a bombing campaign make it more or less likely that refugees stream into Jordan? Just the threat of bombing has increased the flow of refugees.

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.

In the past 24 hours, Russia has offered to broker a deal with Syria to have their chemical weapons put under international control. Diplomacy, if sincere, would be a welcome resolution. The Syrian foreign minister has indicated an interest in the proposal.

Can we trust the participants in this plan?

Diplomacy is always a mixture of trust, distrust, and watchfulness. We should not be naïve, and we should have a solid plan and safeguards in place as part of any solution.

As Reagan put it we must "trust, but verify."

Some will say that only the threat of force brought Russia and Syria to the negotiating table. In fact, Russian has been negotiating with the US for over a year to find a peaceful resolution to the Syrian civil war.

The possibility of a diplomatic solution is a good thing, though 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 had simply gone to war last week or the week before, as many advocated, we wouldn’t be looking at a possible solution today.

The voices of those in Congress and the overwhelming number of Americans who stood up and said "slow down" allowed this possible solution to take shape.

Will diplomacy win the day? No one can tell for certain. But on a broader issue, it is an important day, though, in the sense that a President recognized his Constitutional duty and came to seek Congressional authority for war.

If the vote occurs, I will vote no and encourage my colleagues to vote no as well. The President has not made a compelling case that American interests are at risk in Syria. The threshold for war should be a significant one.

The President maintains that he still has the power to initiate war. This is untrue. The Constitution gave the power to declare war to Congress. James Madison wrote that the "Constitution supposes, what history demonstrates, that the executive is the branch most prone to war. Therefore the Constitution, with studied care, vested the power to declare war in the legislature."

This is no small question. I see the vote on whether to go to war in very personal terms. I will not vote to send my son, your son, or anyone’s daughter to war unless a compelling American interest is present. I am not convinced that we have a compelling interest in the Syrian civil war.

May God help us make the wise decision here and avoid an unnecessary war.




34 Responses to “Sen. Rand Paul’s Response to Obama’s War Speech”

  1. Thanks Rand for going along with the majority here; however, real "courage" and "integrity" would involve stating the oblivious: that the fake Youtube videos and Ahmed Chalabi equivalent possible "eye-witnesses" simply are not "credible"…and that there is NO "credible" evidence Assad did what seems to be the 'Washington consensus': that he (Assad) "gassed his own people"–I assume to scare away the Al-Qaeda elements doing the actual fighting…or just to kill women and children 'because he can'…as it's being portrayed?

    Or did the alleged "satellite photos" capture the launching point, trajectory, and landing of the alleged "chemical weapons"? This is even harder to believe than Saddam hiding anthrax in his own palace as claimed 10 years ago…

    If you have "information" 'we' don't Rand, why not share it?

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  3. "I will not vote to send my son, your son, or anyone’s daughter to war unless a compelling American interest is present. "

    … and then Rand Paul went on CNN tonight and defined a 'compelling American interest' when asked by Wolf Blitzer as "American business" or Israel (which he stated twice). So this is different than the usual nonsense how? I have zero confidence in someone who claims that Israel and multinational corporations are 'compelling American interests' that requires US military action.

    RP also talked as if Assad did order the gas attacks – Blitzer suggested this and RP followed along. Then Paul also said that Assad had killed 100,000 people. Apparently he's killed his own soldiers..? No one but Assad's side has killed anyone..?

    Bizarrely Paul didn't question for a moment that this was a 'civil' war. I saw and see no sign that is either understands or is willing to state what is actually going on here.

    When this site backs this guy (not to mention Chuck H.) as the great hope for anti-war's future… I dunno. The best we can say is that he's not a war criminal, which these days is I suppose the pinnacle of accomplishment for an American elected official.

  4. “The best we can say is that he’s not a war criminal…”

    ….YET.

  5. The fact that Rand gave the response is a great sign for the antiwar movement. The speech had to be toned down or he would have never been allowed to give it. He was speaking for the whole party. Which means the whole party is moving in an antiwar direction. it was a corporate speech put together by a lot of writers. I am sure he had input but in no way a free hand. Rome wasn't built in a day. This is a great step in the right direction.

  6. Aside from the speech (which still assumes with no evidence the party line that Assad used chemical wepaons), I'm talking about his interview on CNN in which "America's interests" – for which the man says he's willing to send Americans to die – amount to corporate profits and Israel.

    I thought that the 'libertarians' (and the fellow is still just a Republican) thought that the government's only legitimate war interest was actual defense of the United States and its citizens.

    This isn't a speech I refer to, this is an interview with him speaking only on his own behalf. The answer to the question as to how he defines America's interests as he stated in the speech was disturbing and should be a wake-up call to anyone hanging serious non-Business As Usual hopes on Rand Paul.

    It's normal and has been as long as I've been alive for the networks to allow a rebuttal from someone from the opposite major party. What other Republicans would appear on national TV to come out more or less against war, that being the opposite side here? I don't know how many options there were.

  7. While I am glad that Rand opposed this war, he is not a libertarian — only a typical Republican circa 1980s, which were in disrepute with libertarians then and against whom his own father would have run for that very reason.
    1. He erroneously claimed that the invasion of Afghanistan was proper. It wasn't. The U.S. did not follow extradition processes to obtain Osama, only a suspect at the time. One does not invade a country to obtain a single criminal. Do we incinerate entire cities to find rapists and murderers in the U.S.?
    2. He did not question the veracity of Obama and the faked-up evidence.
    3. He did not mention the hypocrisy of the U.S., which has used gas and other chemical weapons in Vietnam, Waco, and Ramallah, not to mention depleted uranium elsewhere.

    Rand underwhelms, but because the bar is now set so low with the current crop in D.C.., he appears to stand taller than he is. It is sad that he's among the best there is. Very sad.

  8. The "Reagan Doctrine" also embraced selling arms to Iran to fund his genocidal war against Central American peasants that had previously been outlawed by Congress. That Rand Paul cites him as an example makes it impossible to take him seriously as an anti-war leader. He is a conventional Republican who has adopted this stance for perceived political advantage, nothing more.

  9. Who else do we have? I will be supporting Rand Paul for president if he runs, which I believe he will. He's much better than anybody else out there who has a chance of getting elected.

  10. Yes Rands speech was underwhelming. The first point that should have made was that attacking a sovereign country that has not attacked our country is an act of war and can be responded to in kind.How can a plan like Obama's not cause escalation ? Not only would make the U.S. a war criminal state in the eyes of the world, it would destabilize the entire region. Even more importantly a strike, even limited, would kill innocent civilians. Everyone seems to just skirt around these core issues and even fewer mention that we have been arming the rebel forces for the last two years and that our interference is how Syria got to this point.

  11. I know what you are saying Chris, but perhaps he is just playing the hand he has been dealt in a way that would give him the biggest audience. I think rand is deliberately not arguing with what the media and obama says are facts because he dosn't want to give them ammo to try and discredit him with. Rand knows there is no proof, but he wants to stop the war so is focusing on the easiest ways he can discredit him. He dosn't want to risk been called a conspiracy theorist.

  12. Jhon McCain is a conventional republican. Rand Paul is not that conventional.

  13. Get the UTube with Rand and Wolf Blitzer. He really takes him to the woodshed. It's all politics. He is leading against the war. He has to grease his arguments to the audience. What ever sells the big picture is what matters. The Israeli's hate him. They know where he stands.

  14. The President has lied about everything, The chemical weapons allegation against Assad is without substance and has been presented without proof. The President has no authority under the Constitution or under International Law to attack Syria based on the allegations he has made. The President is already a war criminal for his unconscionable use of Drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and the Sudan. There is also the question of the President's responsibility for Libya and the Benghazi debacle. Israel is not the United States! Rand Paul blurs the distinction between Israel and the United States. Why didn't Rand Paul introduce a bill to impeach the President? Why didn't Rand Paul call out the President for his lying? Why didn't Rand Paul follow his father's lead identifying the latest rebel chemical attack as a "false flag"?

  15. In fairness I believe that impeachment is only possible coming out of the House. I don't believe Rand Paul would attempt that (and neither did Ron Paul when in position to). Otherwise I agree with your points.

  16. No, you're just seeing another senator with presidential ambitions who defines Israel as the 51st state, and who thinks that the interests of a corporation are a good reason to send poor kids to kill and die. On top of this he questions not a single lie from the central narrative about the war. Either the guy is never going to tell the truth about things or he has a limited understanding of things.

    It looks as if Republicans are seeing fantasy traits in Paul just like Democrats saw fantasy traits in Obama, hearing the opposite of what's been said and projecting opinions that haven't been spoken. How's that working out?

  17. I agree with Johnny. If Rand took the same positions than his father, he would have no chance of winning the nomination or the presidency. I believe he's a lot better than anybody else out there that has a chance of winning. He would at least move us in the right direction. Can we say that about Christy, Rubio, Palin, Ryan, Jeb Bush, or any of the other war mongers? It's either Rand or a war monger on the ticket. Who do we choose? Or do we keep voting for Libertarians as I have since 1976 and continue getting no more than 1% of the vote?

  18. Rand just said last night on (inter)national TV when asked what 'compelling American interests' are that he meant business interests and Israel. I'm sorry to keep repeating this but people keep responding as if that didn't just happen. Both of those seem to be about as far from anti-interventionist libertarian positions as possible. No one is twisting his arm to say that, and if someone can then what's the point of being a Senator let alone running for president. Why not just give Obama a third term (i.e. Bush a fifth).

    How is it that when an overwhelming majority of Americans are opposed to more war, especially for Israel and the rich, that backing that simple position would make someone 'unelectable'? It makes no sense. You can't tell me that the potion of the American Jewish community who still back Israel (what, 1% of the general population, concentrated in a few states?) is going to outvote the vast majority of Americans in a presidential election.

    I only vote for people who state in plain language that they don't plan to engage in war crimes, and waste American 'blood and treasure' (cliche I know) on AIPAC/neo-con wars of aggression.

  19. Have to agree. He is a bit better than the average politician. Nothing more.

  20. If either of them run there are two possible true liberty candidates available now with a chance of winning, Judge Napolitano and Representative Justin Amash. I would vote for either of them in a heartbeat over Rand. I would consider voting for Rand in the General Election if he placed one of these men on the ticket. Although I would be quite old by the time one of them reached the Presidency, that event would truly bring tears to the eyes of this long suffering libertarian.

  21. Being anti war is respect for humanity, being a war monger is the opposition of the matter. USA vulture capitalism economic system is based on militarism, therefore every president is elected by the system for that purpose. US needs a president, a government of humanity to fight warmongers as McCain and Kerry or others using the "democratic" process to benefit from by supporting terrorism developed and exported by Saudis and others alike, these people fighting the USA system wars and they are used as USA last resort for vulture capitalism to benefit from. Call me old fashion, but there shouldn't be any room for any religious in politics nor vulture capitalism.

  22. The fact that Rand gave the response is a great sign for the antiwar movement. The speech had to be toned down or he would have never been allowed to give it. He was speaking for the whole party. Which means the whole party is moving in an antiwar direction. it was a corporate speech put together by a lot of writers. I am sure he had input but in no way a free hand. Rome wasn't built in a day. This is a great step in the right direction.

  23. If it turns out to be a race between Rand Paul and Hillary, wouldn't you agree Rand Paul would be the better choice by far than Hillary on a libertarian and an anti-war basis? I don't believe we will have had such a good choice since Goldwater vs. Johnson and Rand Paul I believe to be better than Goldwater from a libertarian and anti-war standpoint. We can't help but be better off with Rand Paul than Hillary and we would be foolish to let that opportunity slip away from us. I'm not going to not vote for somebody unless they are in 100% agreement with me. Rand Paul is close enough to my overall views that I could support him.

  24. I agree with you Mark on Napolitano and Amash. I would support both of them over Rand. One good thing about Rand's speech above is that he is educating the public on why our Founding Fathers put the war making powers in the hands of the Congress as opposed to one man, the President. The public needs to be educated about this judging from the recent Fox poll that showed a majority believe the President still has it in his power to go to war even if Congress votes no.

  25. Chris, you're forgetting about the Christian Zionists. They represent a fairly large percentage of the population, unfortunately. They will support any war in the Middle East that they believe will bring us to Armageden and hasten Jesus's return.

  26. Hey Johnny, He wasn't allowed to give it. No news or commentary show I saw carried it. Nobody heard it outside of our anti-war inner circle. You are kidding yourself. Love your optimism, but I have heard this "we are moving in the right direction" for the last 60 years.

  27. As best as I can tell if we take the man at his own word his and HRC's criteria are very much the same, the argument being that Paul does not consider Israel (or American business interests) to be currently sufficiently threatened by Syria to warrant attacking it ***at this time***.

  28. 1) They're still a minority. Are we not hearing massive opposition to expanding war in Syria?

    2) What's to be lost in telling the truth about them? I don't get the idea that the way to win over people who will never vote you anyway is to maintain a silence about them. Eh..?

  29. It's a sad fact about the state of our political establishment that the oh-so 'radical leader of the anti-war movement' is somebody like Rand "I endorse Mitt Romney and the Drug War" Paul.

  30. I didn't see the CNN interview, but if that's the case his father needs to give him a talking to haha

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