Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rand Paul Issues Dear Colleague Letter Opposing Syrian Intervention

Monday, Sen. Rand Paul issued a Dear Colleague letter urging his colleagues in both chambers to vote against U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war. Below is text of that letter.

September 9, 2013

Dear Colleague,

There is no greater question that is ever brought before Congress than the issue of whether to go to war.

The question before us presently is whether the United States should initiate war with Syria. In 1995, Colin Powell wrote, “War should be the politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose our people understand and support.”

I do not believe Syria passes that test.

I treat the question of war as if it would determine the fate of my son or daughter. War is not some geopolitical chess game. It is, at best, a necessary evil. It should never be the first option. It should occur only when America is attacked or threatened, or when American interests are attacked or threatened. And only when all other options have been played out.

Too often, the debate begins and ends with an assertion that our national interest is at stake, but no evidence is ever presented to convince us of that assertion. The assertion itself is thought to be sufficient. I disagree. The burden of proof lies with those who wish to engage in war.

The resolution to authorize force in Syria goes too far, and also not far enough. It does too much, but also too little.

This resolution does too much by involving us in a civil war in which there is no clearly defined American national security interest.  Even the State Department argues that there is no military solution here that is good for the Syrian people, and the best path forward is a political solution. I will not vote to send my son, your son, or anyone’s daughter to fight for stalemate. The President must make the case for war. Thus far, he and his Administration have tried to make the case for “skirmish.” They make the case for aseptic, surgical, see-no-blood, strikes that are pre-announced to not mean victory. The military strikes are pre-announced to be so limited as to provide no solution to the Syrian civil war.

The resolution does too little by narrowly circumscribing the President’s power to execute war. I disagree strongly with unlimited executive power to initiate war. But I have some sympathy for the argument that once war commences, the executive should not be hamstrung by a narrowed ability to execute that war. If American interests are at stake, we shouldn’t fight a war with one hand tied behind our back. Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, argued, “U.S. troops should only be committed wholeheartedly and with the clear intention of winning. Otherwise, troops should not be committed.”

Those who wish to bring us into Syria’s civil war will argue that American national security is at risk, that Israel is at risk, that stability in the Middle East is at risk. A claim or a conclusion is not a debate. Certainly, there are national interests in the Middle East. Turkey is a NATO ally. Israel and Jordan are important allies. No one disputes this. Assad is clearly not an American ally. But will his ouster encourage stability in the Middle East, or further destabilize the region? Are the Islamic rebels our allies? Will they defend American interests? The President has no answer to any of these questions. The answers, so far as they are known, cast doubt on any clear-cut American allies – or interests – in the Syrian civil war.

Likewise, the case has not been made that a strike on Syria will not complicate relations with Iran and Russia, worsen the refugee crisis in Jordan, or increase attacks on Christians and other minority groups living in Syria. It has not been at all proven that an attack won’t actually encourage President Assad to use chemical weapons again.

For all these reasons, I write today to ask you to join me in opposing the resolution to involve the United States in Syria’s civil war.

In liberty,

Rand Paul, M.D.
United States Senator


  1. Tactically, is pretty good. Denounce the war from both sides by saying it doesn't make sense to strike, war is bad. And at the same time, sound like a strong leader by saying its a weak strike, war needs to be waged full force.

    1. Nothing he said in this article shows "strong leadership." He has no military experience and knows nothing about military history. His views on national defense are childishly simplistic.

  2. Funny how Rand, "I'm not a libertarian," Paul uses the sign-off "In liberty."

  3. This is just a field full of scarecrows, a bunch of straw man arguments.

    This is not a "vote to go to war." It's a vote on whether to punish Assad for using chemical weapons. This vote is not required by the War Powers Act. The War Powers Act merely requires 48 hour notification and troop withdrawal within 60 days. Congress has already given the Executive power to take action. Obama is merely requesting a vote so that Congress can shoulder some of the blame for the decision.

    1. You are factually and legally incorrect. Stop posting your nonsense. The vote is to use military force against Syria, which will do *significantly* more than "punish Assad". You also have exactly ZERO proof that *he* and not *others* used chemical weapons.

      Secondly you have either an incomplete understanding of the War Powers Act, or are a liar. Go read the statute, in order to introduce the armed forces of the United States into hostilities, the language in section 1541(c) must first be activated. It has *obviously* not been activated in this instance. Do you understand what the mans Jerry? It would be black letter illegal for Obama to use force without first receiving the permission of Congress.

      If you are going to continue to post here I encourage you to go to school or a read a few books first. It will save you quite a bit of embarrassment.