By Jeremy Herb - 08/28/13 06:23 PM EDT
Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulHow low is the bar for presidential candidates, anyway? Lawmaker seeks to investigate Obama's foreign tax compliance law Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears 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.”
"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 McCainGOP lawmakers slam secret agreement to help lift Iran bank sanctions Kerry: US 'on the verge' of suspending talks with Russia on Syria Trump, Clinton to headline Al Smith dinner MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamKerry: US 'on the verge' of suspending talks with Russia on Syria GOP leaders express reservations a day after 9/11 veto override McConnell opens door to changing 9/11 bill 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.