On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said there’s a 50/50 chance Congress would authorize a strike against Syria, and said the U.S. may want to delay intervention in the Syria conflict after Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons.
In the interview, Paul turned the tables on Secretary of State John Kerry and asked how he could ask the first man to die for a mistake.
“I think it’s a mistake to get involved in the Syrian civil war,” Paul said. “And what I would ask John Kerry is, you know, he’s famous for saying, you know, ‘how can you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?’ I would ask John Kerry, how can you ask a man to be the first one to die for a mistake? I would ask John Kerry, do you think that it’s less likely or more likely that chemical weapons will be used again if we bomb Assad? I will ask him if it’s 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 you can imagine are all more likely if we get involved in the Syrian civil war.”
Paul applauded Obama for taking the steps to seek congressional approval, but insisted that approval wasn’t a sure thing.
“Well, the one thing I would say that I’m proud of the president for is that he’s coming to Congress in a constitutional manner and asking for our authorization,” Paul said. “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. But you ask John Kerry whether or not he’ll stick by the decision of Congress, and I believe he waffled on that and wobbled and wasn’t exactly concrete that they would. But absolutely if Congress votes this down, we should not be involved in the Syrian war. And I think it’s at least 50/50 whether the House will vote down involvement in the Syrian war.”
As for the particulars of what military action should take place, Paul was skeptical and said the consequences may outweigh the benefits.
“I think the Senate will rubber stamp what he wants, but I think the House will be much closer vote,” he said. “And there are a lot of questions we have to ask. I think it’s pretty apparent there was a chemical attack. But we now have to ask, are we going to go after chemical weapons with our bombing? Everything I read says that we’re unlikely to bomb chemical sites because of the potential for civilian damage and civilian loss of life. The other question is all of the bad things that are going on, one of the bad things going on is that hundreds of thousands of people have gone into Jordan as refugees.”
“If we begin a bombing campaign in Syria, I think that accelerates — it accelerates the misery,” Paul continued. “If we get involved, you know, people say, well 100,000 people have died, we must act. Well, if our weapons get involved and we get involved, do you think more people will die or less people? I think the war may escalate out of control. And then we have to ask ourselves who is on America’s side over there? If the rebels win, will they be American allies? Assad’s definitely not an American ally. But I’m not convinced anybody on the Islamic side, the Islamic rebels will be American allies.”