Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — the erstwhile "most interesting man in politics" — has laid fairly low since being one of the first high-profile candidates to drop out of the presidential race in February. But in the past few weeks he has made his presence known on two issues near to the hearts of libertarians: ending Selective Service (a.k.a. "the draft") and forcing Congress to resume its duty and actually vote on the use of military force.
Paul had previously introduced an amendment into the National Defense Authorization Act which would effectively end Selective Service, but he has rebranded his efforts in the wake of Muhammad Ali's death in the form of stand-alone legislation which he has dubbed "The Muhammad Ali Voluntary Service Act."
According to the Washington Post, Paul told reporters this past Monday, "I agree with Muhammad Ali…If the war's worth fighting, people will volunteer. When we were attacked on 9/11, and when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, they almost had to slow it down, there were so many people coming in."
In addition, CN2 quotes Paul as saying, "You know, the criminal justice system I say now has a racial justice disparity, selective service had a racial disparity, because a lot of rich white kids either got a deferment or went to college or got out of the draft. I'm opposed to Selective Service." The penalty for avoiding Selective Service is "imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of not more than $250,000."
Also this week, Paul revisited his intention to force his colleagues in Congress to do one of their most important jobs — one which they have simply refused to do for years — and vote on a new Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) to replace the ones voted on in 2001 and 2003, which are still being used to justify military actions in any number of countries we are not at war with.
At a ceremony honoring World War II veterans and commemorating the anniversary of D-Day, the Courier-Journal reports Paul as saying that everyone knew the war against the Axis Powers would end, but with regards to what used to be known as the Global War on Terror, there is no nation-state to defeat and no definition of victory. Paul reportedly said, "This is a war that will never end. How long will there be radical Islam and people will attack us through terrorism? A hundred or a thousand years? I have no idea. It could go on a long time. That's why it has to be limited and narrow." He added, "It's always important to put a name and face to war," Paul said. "There is too much eagerness for war. There needs to be more of an argument in the opposite direction, that it should be a last resort."
Seemingly taking aim at the hawks in his own party as well as President Obama (who has been at war for his entire presidency), Breitbart News quotes Paul as saying, "I think there is a certain amount of weakness that invites war and I would say in many ways [Obama] hasn't definitively had a foreign policy that gives direction or purpose. And so it seems to list one way or another, and I think that actually weakness causes more wars sometimes."
Paul used the intervention in Libya — which Obama has called the "worst mistake" of his presidency (but which Hillary Clinton still refers to as "smart power") — as an example of why Congress must consider and take ownership of military interventions. Per Breitbart News:
I think the first thing we should do is, that Congress should vote on whether we should be there or not. There should be an authorization from Congress. The second thing though, is we should be aware of the unintended consequences of intervention. I think our intervention in Libya backfired and has made it less safe in Libya, has given ISIS a foothold in Libya.
Below you can watch a 2015 Reason TV interview with Paul, in which he talks with Reason's Matt Welch about his opposition to the Patriot Act, GOP hawks, Edward Snowden, and more.