Saying it’s a mistake for the U.S. to get involved in the Syrian civil war, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., challenged Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion that a military air strike is necessary.
Paul made the comments during his first ever appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday morning.
Speaking to host David Gregory, Paul reversed a famous quote by Kerry when as a war veteran and anti-war activists he asked lawmakers in 1971 who should be the last solider to die in Vietnam.
“He’s famous for saying, ‘How can you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?” Paul said. “I would ask John Kerry: How can you ask a man to be the first one to die for a mistake?'”
Kerry argued on Meet The Press that the case for intervention is building, and the secretary of state made news by announcing the Obama administration has evidence showing sarin gas was used by Bashar Al Assad’s regime within the past 24 hours.
But Paul says Syria presents no threat to the U.S. and that American interests are not involved on either side of the civil conflict.
In Paul’s view the best outcome is a peaceful transition in Syria through diplomatic channels involving the Russian government, which is an ally of Assad. Kentucky’s junior senator also argues the civil conflict in Syrian is a murky situation because Assad has “protected Christians,” against Islamic radicals.
“I think the Islamic rebels winning is a bad idea for the Christians, and all of a sudden we’ll have another Islamic state where Christians are persecuted,” Paul said.
The comments come a day after President Obama said he is seeking congressional authorization for military action in Syria.
Observers have questioned the president’s decision to invite a possible rebuke from Congress, but Kerry said he’s confident lawmakers will authorize air strikes.
“We don’t contemplate that Congress is going to vote no,” Kerry said. “We have confidence there are good people in the Congress of the United States.”