On Sunday, President Obama asked Congress to approve the use of United States military forces however “he sees fit’. On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner announced his support for military intervention in Syria. In the Senate, Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham have led the charge to punish the Assad regime for its suspected usage of chemical weapons. That leaves Rand Paul, the Kentucky Senator, son of Ron Paul, and prospective 2016 Presidential candidate, to lead the anti-war side.
While doing an interview for “Meet the Press”, Paul said it would be a “mistake” to take military action in Syria. He warned that a victory for the Syrian rebels, seven of nine of whom are affiliated with al Qaeda, would put Syrian Christians at risk, as well as installing another Islamist state.
Paul said, “I think 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 the Syrian war… Who is on America’s side over there? If the rebels win, will they be American allies? Assad’s definitely not… I’m not convinced anybody on the Islamic side will be American allies.”
The Obama administration has said that the usage of chemical weapons crosses a “red line”, and that such weapons will not be tolerated, even though the United Nations has not confirmed which side used chemical weapons. In his rose garden address, the President said, “I'm confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors.” In May, however, the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria reported that it had “strong, concrete suspicions” that Syrian rebels, not the regime, had used sarin gas in an earlier attack.
The Obama administration’s “high confidence” in its intelligent reports that the Syrian regime is solely to blame for any chemical weapons attacks, and its willingness to bomb Syria without UN support, is reminiscent of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq due to suspected weapons of mass destruction.
The left-wing blog Huffington Post remarked on the similarity between Syria and the Iraq War, “It's like a bad summer sequel, with many of the same actors. But like the original, there are many holes in the plot. If "there is no action," the president proclaimed, "that is a danger to our national security." But he didn't say how. Also unexplained: What happens after we strike? Since the decision has been made not to take out Assad, how exactly are we "holding him accountable"? By killing innocent people who had nothing to do with the attack? That actually does affect our security. This time, however, the Coalition of the Unwilling -- one that goes beyond left vs. right -- is much larger.”
This puts Rand Paul in a good position to make his case to Americans against intervention. President Obama campaigned for President against the Iraq War, and defeated Democratic challengers Hillary Clinton and Jonathan Edwards, both of whom voted for the war, and then went on to beat John McCain, who also voted for the war. Now that he is largely following the same patterns as Bush did in Iraq, Obama has betrayed the anti-war activists who voted for him in 2008. Rand Paul is the ideal champion for non-interventionism. He can speak to the large number of Americans that are weary with war, and tired of our country trying to pick winners and losers and bring peace and freedom to a region that seems entirely unready and unwilling to embrace it.
President Obama ordered the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, only to enrage Pakistanis and lead them to elect a fiercely anti-American President. He named Afghanistan a key ally of the United States; however their President has said he would side with Pakistan in a war against the United States. He promised to close Guantanamo Bay prison and give foreign-born terrorists American rights to due process, but he ordered the assassination of an American citizen in Yemen. He supported the protests in Egypt, only to see that country elect Islamists to the Parliament and the Presidency, and then he continued to support the military with aid as they staged a coup, removed their democratically-elected leader and cracked down on protesters. He supported aiding the rebels in Libya, only to see our ambassador to that country murdered on the 11-year anniversary of September 11th.
America’s interventionism in the Middle East goes further back. We supported Afghanistan during the Soviet Union’s invasion of that country, and in doing so we armed Osama Bin Laden and supported the Taliban. We supported both sides in the Iraq-Iran War, giving Saddam Hussein billions of dollars of aid, technology, weaponry, intelligence, training and military support, while also aiding Iran with arms sales, in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair. We intervened in the Lebanese Civil War, only to see our barracks in Beirut bombed, and over three hundred people killed.
Rand Paul needs to establish himself as different. Everyone else – Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, John Kerry, John McCain, they all supported the Iraq War and have supported interventionist policies, and now they’re poised to involve us in Syria’s civil war, with no clear agenda, no timetable, no true good guys on either side, and no plan to bring peace to that region. They are also naïve in thinking there’s no way it might turn into a broader war; they’re confident, just because they’re so smart, this’ll be an operation that begins and ends in a weeks’ time, with no possible repercussions, nothing possibly can go wrong, all the intelligence is absolutely solid, and there’s no need to wait for the UN or have a broad coalition. The U.S. can simply bomb Syria, no one will take offense, and that’ll send a strong message to anyone who dares to use chemical weapons. If anti-war Democrats thought Bush was bad, this naivety should seriously concern them.
There is, however, a large number of Americans who are tired of our involvement in these wars. They are Democrats and Republicans who are fed up with interventionism, who are tired of war as a solution. Especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee in 2016, the need for Rand Paul becomes even greater. However, talk of 2016 is still presumptive, and too far away. The more important thing is here and today, and with Barack Obama, John Kerry, John McCain and John Boehner all onboard with military intervention in Syria, someone needs to step up and make the case against war. That person is Rand Paul. He needs to be forceful, articulate, and passionate in his defense of non-interventionism. This is his moment to really take charge, be that anti-war leader Americans thought they had in Barack Obama, and keep our country out of yet another nation’s civil war. We need a true anti-war President, not Clinton, not Bush, and not Obama. They’re all the same. Rand Paul needs to be that leader who sets himself apart, and we badly need him right now to keep us out of war.