Campbellsville, KY—Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is not at all persuaded that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was responsible for deploying chemical weapons against his own people, the causus belli being used to prepare America for yet another Mideast war.
Outside an off-the-record meeting with religious leaders yesterday afternoon at Campbellsville University in Central Kentucky, Paul cited Pat Buchanan while expressing skepticism about the Obama Administration's chemical-weapons claims. Here is a transcript from our brief conversation:
Reason: On Syria, a lot of people who are supporting intervention are making not the Iraq analogy, but the Kosovo analogy, where you can do sort of limited bombing and create good outcomes from that. A) is that a decent analogy to what's happening now, and B) do you look at Kosovo as a success?
Rand Paul: Well you know, the precipitating events of people talking about intervening in Syria seem to be chemical weapons. I would think the first question you ought to ask is, who set them off?
Reason: You're not satisfied by the intelligence so far?
RP: Well, it seems like there's some evidence that there were chemical weapons, I think we're sort of all coming around to agreeing with that—but even [then] I'd like to see some evidence. But then secondly I'd like to see what is the evidence of who set these off, you know? [...]
Pat Buchanan the other day asked in one of his essays, he said the Latin phrase cui bono, to whose benefit does this redound? I think it's a pretty important question. This is of absolutely no benefit to Assad. If you were Assad would you set off chemical weapons? No—the whole world now is interested in coming in and attacking him. It makes absolutely no sense from a logical point of view. There was no sort of major assault where he was getting ready to be wiped out. I don't know why he would use chemical weapons.
So that's the first question you have to ask. Then there's the question of how do we go to war? Do you go to war simply through the unilateral, arbitrary authority of one person, the president? Or do you go to war the way our Founding Fathers intended, and that's through an open debate, and through a congressional vote? I think the Constitution's clear: You do it through a congressional vote.
If you decide you want to discuss the issue of Syria, there are two ironies you have to overcome if you want to be involved in that war. The first irony is, you're going to be supporting Islamic rebels against Christians. Two million Christians live in Syria, probably more than any other country [in the region], maybe other than Egypt, and they're allied with Assad. The second irony you have to overcome is we will be on the same side as Al Qaeda. I thought we were fighting Al Qaeda.
So, I think those ironies to me are pretty significant hurdles to wanting to get involved in the Syrian war.