In an interview with CNN, Paul pushed back against McCain’s claims that Paul “doesn’t have any influence” in the U.S. Senate.
McCain repeatedly criticized Paul in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room, stating that he “doesn’t react” to Paul’s comments on their different positions regarding the situation in Syria.
While McCain favors increased military action in Syria, Paul does not, and questions the costs of getting involved in another foreign war.
“Anybody who wants to talk to Putin about a political settlement and helping Assad go away, anybody who wants to talk about that, myself include, will be called by the McCains of this world a friend of Vladimir Putin. So, as long as we have that kind of stupidity involved in the debate it makes it very hard to get to what President Obama said and what many other thinking people said that the answer in Syria is ultimately a political solution,” Paul said to CNN host Michael Smerconish.
Paul has been critical of President Trump’s decision to launch strikes in Syria, arguing that according to the Constitution only Congress has the authority to declare war.
When asked about or not the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, “could be invoked in the case of Syria,” Paul said that those who might make that argument “are not intellectually serious people.”
“That resolution specifically says Sept. 11… and if someone is gonna come on television or in any public forum and say Assad had something to do with 9/11, they’re frankly just a dishonest person,” he said.
“I mean, the generation of 9/11 certainly shouldn’t bind us to a forever war in the Middle East. I think it’s absurd,” Paul added.
Paul said that the United States must be cautious when it comes to getting involved in another foreign conflict, especially when it comes to the Middle East.
“We have to decide when we are going to intervene as a country, when we are going to put our young men and women, put their lives on the line. And we don’t, frankly, do it for every atrocity in the world,” he argued.
“It doesn’t mean we don’t have great sympathy, but we have to debate when and where we go to war. That’s what our founding fathers asked us to do,” he added.
Paul also criticized those who compare the attacks to acts carried out by Nazi Germany, pointing out that in the latter situation “it was pretty clear” there was “one bad guy.”
In Syria, he added, “there can be an endless supply of enemies.”
“You have to ask yourself: who takes over next? Are they better than the current occupant? So are the radical Islamic rebels — the radical Islamic rebels in Syria — better than Assad? There are also two million Christians … in Syria, being protected by Assad, and they fear the Islamic rebels taking over. So there’s a complicated decision-making process as to who are the good guys in the war,” Paul said.
“As horrific as those attacks were, and as heart-rending as the pictures and the atrocity and the children dying are, I don’t believe that there was a national security interest of the United States,” Paul concluded.