Rand Paul and others were on Face the Nation where he lucidly described the facts of our wars in the Middle East among other things of importance to American citizens. The full transcript is at the link above but below are some of the most salient points for your consideration. Read it all, every single word. It describes reality that most Americans don't have a clue about.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to move, though, to foreign policy where you do seem to be aligned with the President. You've been on a tweet storm this morning saying, President's decision to pull out of Syria and cut our troop presence in Afghanistan in half, you said "the entire foreign policy establishment of Washington, DC, who two years ago were swearing Trump was going to start multiple nuclear wars. Now they're mad because he is stopping two wars. How about you just admit you hate the President, love war and have been wrong for the last twenty years on every part of foreign policy?" Who are you referring to because the defense secretary and the top diplomat handling ISIS both resigned over these decisions?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: You know, I think that we should look at some of the statements of the people who are advocating that we stay in Afghanistan forever and that we also stay now in Syria with no sort of determined end. General Mattis, even General Mattis said that there's no military solution to Syria, and he's also said there's no military solution to Afghanistan. How do you think our young soldiers feel? I have members of my family that are going over there soon, how do you think they feel being sent to Afghanistan when your generals are saying there's no military solution? So I think the burden is really on Mattis and others who want perpetual war to explain why if there is no military solution we're sending more troops. I think the onus is really on them to explain themselves.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, on that issue, though, it's not perpetual war, the argument has been from diplomats that you need the credible threat of military force in order to get people to the negotiating table. What is the incentive now in Afghanistan--
SENATOR RAND PAUL: Well, this is--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --or Syria to have any kind of negotiation if there's no leverage?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: We've been there seventeen years. We think now we are going to take one more village and we'll get a better negotiated deal? Does anybody remember Vietnam--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that's what the Trump administration says--
SENATOR RAND PAUL: That was the strategy of Vietnam for years after year after year in Vietnam was to take one more village and we'll get a better negotiated deal. No, they waited us out and the Taliban are going to wait us out. They know we will eventually leave and leave we must. I mean I don't think we have enough money to be paying to build and rebuild and build and rebuild Afghanistan. The President is right and I think the people agree with him. Let's rebuild America. Let's spend that money here at home.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, if you accept the premise of what you just laid out here and-- and some people do agree that particularly in Syria, two thousand troops and two dozen diplomats can't make a difference. So if you accept that, though, if you look at what the defense secretary put in his resignation letter, what you're hearing here is-- is concern about how it's being done, about abandoning allies, about not having a process--
SENATOR RAND PAUL: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --about not being clear-eyed regarding America's enemies.
SENATOR RAND PAUL: But here's the problem-- I know--
MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you respond to that?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: I know. But here-- here is the problem with all of these generals. They're like, "Oh, it's precipitous." We've been there seventeen years. We've been in the Middle East most of that time. It's not precipitous. The President promised when we went into Syria, our goal was to wipe out ISIS. We took ninety-nine percent of the land, they're on the run, can the people who live there not do anything? We spent trillions of dollars arming the entire Middle East, arming Afghan army, can they not do anything? Do we have to do everything? We defeated ISIS. But now you have the-- the hawks in the administration and throughout Congress saying, "Oh, now we have to wait until Russia and Iran leave Syria." Well, that was never our goal and it's never going to happen. So those people are advocating for perpetual war.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that was the goal articulated by the national security adviser to the President, John Bolton. That is what he said U.S. policy was.
SENATOR RAND PAUL: It-- it was never the goal-- well, it was never-- that's a new goal. That's what you call mission creep. The mission has now changed, that we're going to wait till Iran leaves and Russia leaves. Well, the President told them that's not his mission and that was never the mission. The mission was to wipe out ISIS and we did succeed. And the thing is it's incredibly bold to win a war and come home. That's what the people want. If you poll the American people, it's sixty to seventy percent of people ready to get out of Afghanistan. And I'll bet you the same of Syria if you ask the people. It's only the people in Washington, the armchair generals, that want to keep us at war forever and people, Americans, are tired of it. We want that money here at home and we want to create jobs, roads, bridges here at home not in Afghanistan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The concern raised by people like Brett McGurk who-- who was the President's diplomat handling the anti-ISIS coalition is that if you move out too quickly, if you agree we're going to draw down, at least have a plan on how to do it. At least, do it in a way that doesn't abandon allies. And, in fact, he warned in his resignation letter that this could create a vacuum that would allow terrorist groups like the Islamic State to re-emerge and in other-- other words, we'll have to go back in a few years.
SENATOR RAND PAUL: That will always be true. What-- what-- that-- that statement will always be true. That statement will be true in fifteen years. The place is a mess. I mean, they've been fighting each other for a thousand years. Sunni and Shia have been fighting each other since Battle of Karbala in 832 AD.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This is ISIS.
SENATOR RAND PAUL: They're going to fight each other until the end of time. It's all of them. It's-- it's a inter-complicated mess that has to do with Sunni extremism versus Shia extremism, and also some other various battles in between. But if we wait until there's potent-- no potential for anybody fighting each other when we leave, we will be there forever. But here is what we need to do. And here is the real problem, we have so politicized the relationship with Russia that there isn't a Democrat in the land that is for any kind of negotiation with Russian ally because they know it's an anti-Trump position to be heaping on Russia. Russia is a big player. If we don't talk to Russia about Syria, we will never come to a resolution. Iran is a player. We actually have to talk to Iran about--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SENATOR RAND PAUL: --Syria, as well. Assad is a player. We have-- we can't just say Assad is going to go. He won the war. These people have their head in the sand and they just want to send two thousand troops there. They become a trip wire to a possibility of a much-expanded war involving Russia and Iran. And that would be a huge mistake-- mistake. I don't think the American people want another big war in the Middle East.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Pentagon and State Department say there are tens of thousands of ISIS fighters still in Syria. How can you credibly say mission accomplished? Do you think ISIS has been defeated?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: Right. I think the numbers are wildly inflated and nobody knows. I think there are maybe ten thousand so-called radicals. And these are radicals. They are in Idlib and they are surrounded by Turks, Syrians, Kurds others. And I don't think they're going anywhere. And right now there's not a lot of heated battles going on. But my question is why do American young men and women always have to lay our lives down? To the people of Iraq, are they incapable of doing anything? And here's the thing. Muslims need to ultimately police Muslim lands. When Americans are there and we kill someone who lives there, they see it as a religious affront and they see it as the Pagans have come to take their land and for everyone we kill, we create ten to a one hundred more. So it isn't working. We have-- have supplied them all with money we've given them uniforms we've given them weapons. They need to step up and they need to eradicate these violent people from their midst.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Paul, thank you.