Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is concerned with the process by which a strike on Syria was crafted, believing it was not done in accordance with the United States Constitution. The wisdom of the strike itself, and whether it benefits the United States or is in the national interest, he believes, is a separate issue. The Constitution places the power to declare war in the hands of Congress, not the executive branch and that is the standard that Senator Paul applies in his reasoning.
Paul tells host Stuart Varney, “This is why our founding fathers said, under the Constitution, that war should be debated fully by Congress, initiated and declared by Congress, but the President really doesn’t have the authority under the Constitution to initiate war. And so I think what we’re doing now is illegal and unconstitutional. And the ramifications could be extreme, they may not, but there is a great danger in bumping up against another nuclear power.”
Varney asks if President Trump should appear physically before Congress and seek an authorization to go to war. Paul notes that the only way a President is allowed to act unilaterally is in matters of imminent attack, citing an example of FDR visiting Congress the morning after Pearl Harbor to seek authorization.
As for whether or not the action was advisable, Paul believes Congress should have “a big, robust debate,” noting how, “In the Iraq war everyone was gleeful to go after an evil dictator, Saddam Hussein, and yet the end result was that Iran became stronger. And now the same loud cries for war against Hussein are the same loud cries for war against Iran [Syria?]. So if we topple Assad, what comes next. Will we like the Islamic rebels that take over. Perhaps they hate us and Israel more than Assad does.”
Varney notes that the assumption is that this was a “one-off shot” into Syria to teach Assad a lesson, punishment for the dropping of poison gas on children. Paul asks if it’s a $75 million finger wag at Assad, what if it doesn’t have the intended effect? He points out “it may well take a lot more, and the question is a lot more really is getting us much deeper involved into their war.”
Varney notes the euphoria surrounding the attack by most of the Republican Party, as well as some Democrats. Paul admits there’s only a few left in Congress who still believe in the Constitution. Time will tell if this was the right action to take practically, from the perspective of world affairs. It has served to bolster the President’s stature around the world so it may well prove to have been the right move from an analysis of the end result.
Constitutionally, it’s not in doubt, and we must remember that President Trump opposed the Iraq War from the beginning out of concern for the same risks that, through unexpected consequences, we’re positioning ourselves to potentially face today.
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