Rand Paul on Syria: ‘Congress Should Come Into Session and Debate This’

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul spoke to Kentucky Public Radio about the possibility of U.S. military action against Syria following the regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

The Republican from Bowling Green talked about what the Constitution says about war powers, how the Syria issue is united people on the left and right, and he took a not-too-subtle jab at Hillary Clinton, in what could be a preview of a possible 2016 presidential contest.

Here is the part what Paul told WKU Public Radio’s Kevin Willis:

Is a U.S. military strike against Syria inevitable?

“Maybe, maybe not. I’m trying very hard to prevent that from happening. The Constitution is very explicit. The Constitution says Congress gives the authority to declare war, not the president. The president, when he was a senator, acknowledged this. He said no president should unilaterally go to war without Congressional authority.

“The vice president talked about the separation of powers when he was in the Senate, and said that if (President) Bush were to go to war without their permission, then he would vote to impeach him. So the thing is, we should obey the law. We’re a country of laws, and we should obey the law, which means Congress should come into session and debate this.

“The British Parliament recently did this, and it turns out the people’s representatives aren’t as excited about a new war.

Last night the President—or the administration, at least—did hold some sort of conference call with Congressional leaders, members of the Intelligence Committees. Is that good enough in terms of communication with lawmakers?

“You can’t amend the Constitution with a conference call. A conference call does not replace the Constitution, and if (President Obama) thinks so, then he seriously misunderstands the Constitution.”

Do you fear at all that if a chemical weapons attack did occur in Syria, that no U.S. military action will send a message to countries like Syria and Iran that it’s ok to use chemical weapons in the future?

“I think one thing you should do is find out, was there a chemical attack? It seems like there’s evidence that there was. Then who committed it? Once commentator recently asked the question—it’s a Latin phrase- ‘cui bono?’ Whose benefit is this? To whom does the benefit accrue if you have this attack?

“Well, it doesn’t seem to be helping (Syrian President Bahar al-Assad) any. It seems to be uniting the world against him. So, there is a possibility that maybe the rebels instigated this chemical attack.” “I would at least want to see the evidence before launching a war. But the bottom line is that the people’s representatives in Congress get to vote. War is the last resort, not the first resort. War is something that—when we fight it—we should fight to win.

“There is no strategic objective here. Everything that (the White House) is pre-announcing is, ‘Oh, it’s just going to be a few missiles, we’re really not going to get involved, we’re not going to have regime change.’

“Well, if we really don’t have a clear-cut objective or reason to be there, then maybe we shouldn’t be there.”

Update 1:15 p.m.: Secretary of State John Kerry addresses on Friday the situation in Syria.

The rest of the interview can be found here.

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