One day after giving a strong rebuttal to President Obama’s speech on Syria, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul joined NPR‘s Michael Martin for a discussion on the radio channel’s ‘Tell Me More” program. And it really was a chance to dig into the topic on a way the media hasn’t quite done before.
One of Paul’s clearest remarks came early in the interview. Martin pressed Paul some of the senator’s statements about Al-Qaeda being involved in a U.S. strike. He asked Paul if there was a difference between “state and non-state actors.”
“PAUL: Well, I think there’s evil on both sides. And I think that’s one reason I don’t want to be involved in civil war. I see things in personal terms. I just can’t see sending one of my sons or your son or daughter to fight in a civil war where on one side we have a dictator who, in all likelihood, gassed his people. But on the other side, we have Islamic rebels who have been eating the hearts or organs of their enemies…So really I see no clear-cut American interests and I’m afraid that sometimes things unravel and the situation can become less stable and not more stable.”
And that’s really been one thing missing from the Syria debate – it shouldn’t just be about asking whether the U.S. should involve their military, or for how long, or with what types of forces. We should also be asking who exactly a military strike would help. And would that help America? Because as Paul points out, neither side is necessarily innocent in the civil war.
The two stayed on Syria and foreign relations basically the entire time, and right after the previous comment, Martin actually posed another question we haven’t heard much: Would this discussion be different if the people being killed were somewhere like Brussels instead?
“PAUL: You know, nothing really has to do with what ethnic group is being killed, as far as civilians are being killed. But there probably would be a difference between Europe and some other places because we have a NATO Alliance and we have treaty obligations. And so that’s where we get into the fact of talking about whether or not there is an American interest.”
Paul added that while deaths from gas are “an awful thing to watch,” it’s also bad to die from something like a bullet or hand grenade.
The final question of the interview gave Paul a chance to simply explain his view on the situation – his goals and his principles. And they were pretty classic Rand Paul principles.
“MARTIN: Before that you go, what’s your north star on this issue? What is your guiding principle?
PAUL: I think that, most importantly, when I see issues of war, I see them in a personal vein, and I am reluctant to go to war unless there’s a real, valid American interest because I’ve seen the wounded soldiers. I have a lot of GIs in my state…We should understand the sacrifices our young men and women go through losing lives and limbs. And they should only do it for the highest of purposes. So it can’t be something that’s a chess game. It’s not something we should treat as, you know, just some sort of geopolitical game that doesn’t involve human lives.”
Rand Paul, continuing to tell us more about the Syria situation from a common sense perspective. Something we could use more of as many in Washington continue to beat the war drums.
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