Sen. Rand Paul has been vehemently against the missile strike in Syria ordered by the Trump administration.
On Saturday, just two days after the strikes, Paul argued that Congress should have the right to exercise its constitutional authority to declare war before any further actions are taken in Syria.
Paul added that anyone arguing that the post-9/11 AUMF law grants President Trump the power to declare war at will is being “dishonest” and “not intellectually serious.”
The Kentucky firebrand told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that without “a vote in Congress,” Trump’s missile strikes in Syria were an “inappropriate way to start a war.”
“I think this is a wrong-handed notion that we just skipped the most important step,” Paul said.
When asked by Smerconish whether or not the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) legally applies to Trump’s actions in Syria, Paul said that it does not.
“That resolution specifically says Sept. 11… and if someone is gonna come on television or in any public forum and say Assad had something to do with 9/11, they’re frankly just a dishonest person,” he said.
“I mean, the generation of 9/11 certainly shouldn’t bind us to a forever war in the Middle East. I think it’s absurd,” Paul added.
Smerconish then asked Paul if seeing the heinous images of children following the chemical attack provided a similar rationale as images from Auschwitz in World War II.
Paul said that he was “emotionally swayed” by the photos he saw, but added that there were “atrocities throughout the world” occurring every single day that bother him.
“We have to decide when we are going to intervene as a country, when we are going to put our young men and women, put their lives on the line. And we don’t, frankly, do it for every atrocity in the world,” he argued.
“It doesn’t mean we don’t have great sympathy, but we have to debate when and where we go to war. That’s what our founding fathers asked us to do,” he added.
In Syria, Paul told Smerconish, “There can be an endless supply of enemies.”
“You have to ask yourself: who takes over next? Are they better than the current occupant? So are the radical Islamic rebels — the radical Islamic rebels in Syria — better than Assad? There are also two million Christians … in Syria, being protected by Assad, and they fear the Islamic rebels taking over. So there’s a complicated decision-making process as to who are the good guys in the war,” Paul emphasized.
Paul stated that he understands seeing the gruesome photos from Syria could have affected President Trump, but added that dragging ourselves into an endless war is not in the best interest of the United States.
“As horrific as those attacks were, and as heart-rending as the pictures and the atrocity and the children dying are, I don’t believe that there was a national security interest of the United States,” he argued.
Here’s the full interview: