Four years ago, the media were talking about a “Libertarian Moment.”
I had high hopes!
Sen. Rand Paul ran for president, promising to “take our country back from special interests.” But his campaign never took off.
He “shouldn’t even be on the stage,” said Donald Trump at a Republican presidential debate.
Paul quit his presidential campaign after doing poorly in Iowa.
In my new video, Paul reflects on that, saying, “Either the people aren’t ready or perhaps the people in the Republican primary aren’t ready.”
But Paul says, “We may be winning the hearts and minds of people who aren’t in Washington.”
The current deficit is a record $984 billion, and since Trump was elected, federal spending rose half a trillion dollars.
But Paul says progress has been made, in that Trump has introduced some market competition in health care, cut taxes, cut regulations, appointed better judges and promises to get us out of foreign wars. Paul tweeted that Trump is “the first president to understand what is our national interest.”
“But he hasn’t pulled us out of anywhere,” I said.
“Compare it to George W. Bush, who got us involved everywhere,” answered Paul. “Or President Obama, who sent 100,000 troops to Afghanistan. The rhetoric of President Trump has been a relief.”
The problem, says Paul, is that, “When the president has said anything about it ... immediately Republican and the Democrat leaders get together and pass a resolution saying it would be precipitous to leave Afghanistan.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did recently make a speech about “the danger of a precipitous withdrawal.”
“Really?” replies Paul. “After 19 years? Precipitous?”
America went into Afghanistan to take out the killers behind the Sept. 11 attacks. We succeeded. So why are we still there?
Paul complains, “Intervention after intervention hasn’t had the intended consequence. We’ve got more chaos.”
In Iraq, America took out Saddam Hussein, but that has left a power vacuum and continued violence.
In Libya, we helped get rid of Moammar Gadhafi, but Libya’s “government”
is now run by armed gangs that torture civilians.
In Syria, we armed rebels to fight Bashar Assad. But many of our weapons ended up in the hands of al-Qaida, and Assad is still in power.
“Every time we think we’re going to get more stability or less terrorism,” says Paul, “we end up getting more chaos and more terrorism.”
Recently, Trump moved 50 troops from northern Syria. His action received widespread condemnation from people Paul calls the “war hawk caucus.”
Lindsey Graham said it was “the most screwed-up decision I’ve seen since I’ve been in Congress.” That’s saying something; Graham has been in Congress for 24 years and has seen several screwed-up wars and failed domestic programs.
But Graham almost always seems to want more war.
Paul acknowledges that four years ago, he wanted to arm the Kurds who are now in harm’s way and give them their own country. In promoting American withdrawal, hasn’t he betrayed the Kurds?
“When I refer to the Kurds having a homeland, they kind of do. They have a section of Iraq,” responded Paul, saying he never proposed creating a Kurdish country in Syria. In any case, “Fifty or 2,000 American soldiers are nothing more than a target for bad people to kill.”
I don’t know whether Paul is right about Syria, but I’m glad Paul speaks out.
We need a strong military. But we should use it sparingly, only when we know it benefits our defense.
If we go to war, Congress must vote to declare that war. That’s what the Constitution requires. Congress hasn’t done that since 1942. That’s wrong. It allows politicians to hide their deadly mistakes.
“It’s a very complicated war over there,” says Paul. “They’re four or five different countries involved in it. The people who live there know better. We can’t know enough about these problems. And unless you want to put 100,000 troops in there and fight Assad, Russia, Turkey ... we ought to rethink whether we should get involved in these wars to begin with.”
In both foreign and domestic policy, government plans usually fail.
John Stossel is author of “No They Can’t! Why Government Fails – But Individuals Succeed.” He has a channel on YouTube.