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Rand Paul on War & Peace


Executive Branch can initiating war is a usurpation of power

It isn't so much what President Obama has done, although he's done a lot, none very little good, but it's not what he's done with his usurpations of power as much as it is the precedent that it sets for lawlessness that may follow. If the Executive Branch can initiate war, if the Executive Branch can detain citizens without trial, if it can amend legislation, if it can declare to Congress that Congress is in recess, then government, unrestrained by law, becomes nothing short of tyranny.

Montesquieu recognized this. He wrote that when the Executive Branch usurps the legislative authority, when the president says, "I can write the laws, watch me," he's got a pen, he's got a phone, he doesn't care what the law is, a tyranny will ensue and we must stop this president from shredding the Constitution.

It isn't just the harm that this president is causing, it's the future harm that he allows by destroying the checks and balances that once restrained each of the branches of government.

Source: Speech at 2014 CPAC convention , Mar 8, 2014

No involvement in Syria, even if gas attack proven

Q: The intelligence suggests this was a sarin gas attack at the hands of the Assad government. Is that enough for you to now vote to authorize the president to use force?

PAUL: No. And I think it's a mistake to get involved in the Syrian civil war. I would ask, "Do you think that it's less likely or more likely that chemical weapons will be used again if we bomb Assad?" Is it 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 that you could imagine are all more likely if we get involved in the Syrian civil war.

Q: Secretary Kerry says for you and others not to authorize force is really hurtful to US credibility.

PAUL: The one thing I'm proud of the president for is that he's coming to Congress in a constitutional manner & asking for our authorization. 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.

Source: Meet the Press 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Sep 1, 2013

No US interests in either side of Syrian war

Q: The president says that the US must draw a line at the use of chemical weapons. Do you agree with that line in the sand?

PAUL: The line in the sand should be that America gets involved when American interests are threatened. I don't see American interests involved on either side of this Syrian war. I see Assad, who has protected Christians for a number of decades, and then I see the Islamic rebels on the other side who have been attacking Christians. I see Al Qaeda on the side we would go into support. And I don't see a clear-cut American interest. I don't see [the rebels, if] victorious, being an American ally.

Q: How would the US look if the president decided to take military action and Congress does not give that authority?

PAUL: I think it would show that he made a grave mistake when he drew a red line. When you set a red line that was not a good idea to beginning with, and now you're going to adhere to it to show your machismo, then you're really adding bad policy to bad policy

Source: Meet the Press 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Sep 1, 2013

No US weapons to kill Christians in Syria

Rand Paul continued to stress that "Congress declares war, not the president." Start with the Constitution, he said in an interview. "We have a separation of powers. The constitution says when we go to war Congress declares war, the president executes the war so congress doesn't get involved in the details of the war, but congress does have a very important role in whether we go to war or not."

Paul, a reliably libertarian voice, said in a statement that the situation in Syria lacks a "clear national security connection" to the U.S. but that the nation "should condemn the use of chemical weapons." There needs to be an "open debate in Congress over whether the situation warrants U.S. involvement."

Among his concerns, Paul said, is that there are "too many Christians that live in Syria... and I just don't want to see my kids or weapons of the U.S. used to kill Christians in Syria."

Source: ABC News "Candidates stand on Syria" , Aug 31, 2013

It is unacceptable not to hate war

I'm not a pacifist, but I do think it unacceptable not to hate war. I'm dismissive of those who champion war as sport and show no reluctance to engage in war. Any leader who shows glee or eagerness for war should not be leading any nation. I believe truly great leaders are reluctant to go to war and try mightily to avoid war.

Though I detest violence, I could kill someone who injured or threatened my family. Though I hate war, I could commit a nation to war, but only reluctantly and constitutionally and after great deliberation. I believe that though some would find this a contradiction in terms that there is a such thing as a Christian or just theory of war, that a just war is a war of self-defense. At the same time I'm conflicted. I don't believe Jesus would have killed anyone or condoned killing, perhaps not even in self-defense. I'm conflicted.

Source: Speech at 2012 Values Voters Summit , Sep 14, 2012

Opposed to Iraq War; no direct threat & no declared war

Unlike Afghanistan, I would not have voted to go to war with Iraq, not only because there was no link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, but because that country did not pose a threat to the United States.

I will not vote to go to war without a formal declaration of war, as our soldiers deserve and the Constitution demands.

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p.143&246 , Feb 22, 2011

Would have voted against a declaration of war against Iraq

In contrast to Palin's rote recitation of justifications for overthrowing Saddam, Paul says he would have voted against a declaration of war against Iraq. During the runup to the U. invasion, he says that there "was some question whether intelligence was manipulated."

"The strange thing about Hussein & Iraq is that we actually had been their biggest ally for 20 years because we saw them as a bulwark against the Iranian dominance of the region. I don't think there was a reason to go into Iraq," he said.

Source: CBS News, Coop's Corner, "Palin: Big Tent Republican?" , Feb 1, 2010

Other candidates on War & Peace: Rand Paul on other issues:
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Page last updated: Sep 19, 2014