Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on Sunday said he was “very proud” of President Trump for his decision last week to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Paul’s comments came during a wide-ranging discussion with host Jake Tapper on the role of American troops in the Middle East.
“I’m very proud of the president,” Paul said about the president’s decision to withdraw forces from Syria. “This is exactly what he promised, and I think the people agree with him, actually. I think people believe we’ve been at war too long in too many places and we do need to turn attention to problems we have at home here. Roads, bridges, schools. We have a lot of problems in our country and people are tired of spending — we spent several trillion dollars on these wars everywhere and the president promised he would be different. And it’s really one of the reasons he won, because he actually attracts independents who aren’t beholden to either party who say, ‘You know what? Why don’t we turn attention back to America?'”
Paul responded to Tapper’s question about what the Turks could do once U.S. forces are gone with a call for those in favor of a lasting presence overseas to justify it in light of the fact that those — like General Mattis himself — have “sort of admitted that there is no military solution” to Syria or Afghanistan.
The Kentucky senator later shrugged off a question about the “precipitous” nature of any U.S. withdrawal by asking how that could be when “we’ve been [in Afghanistan] 17 years.” (RELATED: Trump Decided To Withdraw From Syria After Stumping John Bolton With One Question)
“How does it become precipitous to leave after 17 years?” he asked. “The president said when we went into Syria, very clearly, we’re going to defeat ISIS. That was our goal. Then all these people who believe in forever war changed the goal, they changed goalpost and changed the mission and say we’re going to stay there until Iran and Russia leave. That means we’re staying forever. Iran is not leaving any time soon, unless you want to fight Iran. Do you want another war with Iran? American people are tired of war. They want another war with Iran, do they want us to have a war with Russia as well?”
Paul called for a peaceful solution and negotiating with all involved, including Russia and Iran, instead of letting America become a “tripwire” that could lead to a larger conflict.
“I think the president is doing the best thing,” Paul said. “He said we wouldn’t be for nation building. We’re not going to create a nation out of that chaos of Syria or Afghanistan. We’re going to take care of things we have here at home. I think the people are with him. Washington is against him, but this wouldn’t be the first time that Washington doesn’t represent the people very well.”
Later, Paul launched into a history of ISIS and the role of American intervention in creating extremists.
“This is the mainstream foreign policy problem of our country,” said the Kentucky senator. “We think we always have to be involved. Maybe when there is two evils — Assad may be an evil, Sunni extremists may be an evil — maybe we shouldn’t always have to choose a side and be involved in war. But we got involved in that war, and we added to the chaos.”
Paul clarified that he did support “going to Afghanistan” after 9/11, but not “nation building.”
“I would have declared victory long ago and come home,” Paul told Tapper. “When the president declares victory over ISIS, he’s exactly right. We took back 99 percent of their land. Aren’t these people going to stand up and now fight for themselves? Can they not do anything? And it doesn’t work to have Americans there, policing Muslim lands. It just engenders more terrorism. The longer Americans stay, the more terrorism you’ll have. We are so forward deployed that we can attack on a moment’s notice from anywhere on the planet. So us leaving doesn’t mean we don’t have to be involved.”