Rand Paul warns Obama over military strikes against Assad

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday warned against U.S. military involvement in Syria's civil war, arguing that the conflict has “no clear national security connection to the United States.”

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Paul said in a statement Wednesday there was essentially no positive outcome for the United States in Syria, no matter which side is victorious in the two-year civil war.

"The war in Syria has no clear national security connection to the United States and victory by either side will not necessarily bring in to power people friendly to the United States,” Paul said.

The Kentucky senator and possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate also expressed skepticism toward the administration’s view that it was “undeniable” Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons, saying that the United States should “ascertain who used the weapons.”

Paul’s statement comes as the administration is gearing up for a potential military strike against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, which is accused of using chemical weapons in an attack last week that left hundreds dead.

His opposition to U.S. strikes highlights the divisions within the Republican Party over how to respond to the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. 

GOP defense hawks like Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDurbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration Overnight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement MORE (R-S.C.) have pushed the administration to go further than the limited strikes currently being considered.

Paul has frequently clashed with McCain and other Republican hawks on foreign policy and national security issues, including suspending aid to Egypt and the use of lethal drones.

In his statement Wednesday, Paul sided with nearly 100 House members — including more than a dozen Democrats — who argue that President Obama would violate the Constitution if he does not get authorization from Congress before launching a military strike in Syria.

“The Constitution grants the power to declare war to Congress, not the president,” Paul said.