Paul: 'There's No Clearly Defined Mission in Syria'

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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., gave his counterpoints to President Barack Obama's speech to the nation Tuesday night.

President Obama is arguing for a limited attack on Syria if diplomacy fails. He's been arguing his case for weeks following proof that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime used chemical weapons on innocent men, women and children.

"If our enemies wish to know if America will defend herself, let them look no further than our response to 9/11," Paul began. "When attacked, we responded with overwhelming force and with the military objective of complete victory over our attackers."

He used the Reagan doctrine as a model for how America should respond to Middle East conflicts. He said it first calls for the support of the American people. Then, it says our mission must be to win.

"There's no clearly defined mission in Syria, no clearly defined American interest in Syria. In fact, the Obama administration has specifically stated that no military solution exists," Paul said.

When it comes to the argument that America must attack Assad to keep him from using chemical weapons again, Paul said he is concerned the opposite might occur.

"It is equally likely that Assad could feel cornered and resort to chemical weapons in a larger fashion," he said.

Watch Sen. Rand Paul's response:

He also outlined the potential for more bad outcomes.

"Would a U.S. bombing campaign make it more or less likely that Assad attacks Israel with chemical weapons? Would a bombing campaign make it more or less likely that refugees stream into Jordan?" he questioned. "Just the threat of  bombing has increased the flow of refugees."

Paul said the Obama administration has indicated that it would take 75,000 ground troups to secure the weapons, despite the admonition in a proposed resolution stating ground troops should not be used.

Paul was also interviewed Tuesday night by CNN's Wolf Blitzer before he or the President Obama spoke. He told him he hopes the diplomatic solution proposed by Russia "comes to fruition."

"I've said all along that my concern about attacking Assad is that we could so destabilize him that the chemical weapons could fall into the hands of al Qaeda. I still worry about that. But, if we are able to get the weapons out of Syria and into international control I think that'd be a huge step forward," Paul told Blitzer.

Paul said he thinks the threat of force wasn't the only reason the diplomatic solution came about.

"I will say though, that many people have been advocating a bombing for weeks and weeks now and those of us who've tried to slow this down, including the American public, may have inadvertently gotten to this diplomatic solution, if it comes to fruition, by slowing down the process," he said.

Paul told Blitzer he won't deny the president deserves credit for his conversations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his role in diplomatic efforts -- if they end up working.

"I don't see this in a partisan way where I've gotta say, 'Oh, the president doesn't get credit.' Give credit where credit is due and if we get a diplomatic solution, absolutely," he said. "I still don't think it's a good idea to bomb Assad or destabilize the Middle East or to embolden al Qaeda or the Islamic rebels."

When asked if America should trust the Syrian regime, he said America and the world should proceed carefully.

"You know I think any diplomatic solution with people who have used chemical weapons has to be taken with a certain amount of dubiousness. But I would say that any time you have diplomacy with other nations there's trust. There's distrust. There's watchfulness and there's what Ronald Reagan said, 'Trust but verify,'" Paul warned.

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Donna Russell

Donna Russell

Executive Producer

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