In a dramatic escalation last week, President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force. Since the attack, administration officials have scrambled to justify the decision, with Vice President Mike Pence going as far as blaming Iran for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Not all Republicans are on board with Trump’s aggressive posture, however. In a new interview with CNN, libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky expressed opposition to Trump’s latest escalation, criticizing the administration for what he claims are reckless policies that could lead to war, per RealClearPolitics.
Speaking with Wolf Blitzer, Paul argued that the Soleimani killing makes Americans less safe. According to the senator, Iran is no longer willing to negotiate with the United States. The country’s only option, Paul suggested, is to strike back, and it is now “much more likely” that the tensions will result in attacks on Americans.
According to Paul, “it’s now a certainty that there will be attacks in revenge” for the Soleimani killing, given that the general has been replaced by an equally aggressive “hard-liner.”
“And this is sad. I mean, the death of Soleimani, I think, is the death of diplomacy with Iran. I don’t see an off-ramp,” Paul said, explaining to Blitzer that he believes Trump got “bad advice” from members of his administration. According to Paul, Trump is doing exactly what his former national security adviser John Bolton — a neoconservative war-hawk — advised him to do, and bringing the two countries closer to war.
Administration officials have suggested that the killing of Soleimani is meant to bring Iran back to the negotiating table, which Paul dismissed, taking aim at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and calling him “brain-dead.”
“You would have to be brain-dead to believe that we tear up the agreement, we put an embargo on you, and we kill your major general, and they’re just going to crawl back to the table and say, what do you want, America.”
Young, moderate Iranians “who do like the West and who would talk to us” no longer have a voice, according to Paul, who predicted that hard-liners in the Iranian government will consolidate support, further escalating the tensions, and potentially take revenge for Trump’s attack on their country.
Paul has previously criticized Trump for attacking Iran, stating in a recent Fox News interview that the president is breaking his campaign promise of ending Middle East wars and deploying more American troops to the region instead.
Paul has long called for diplomacy with Iran. In 2017, in an attempt to protect the Iran nuclear deal, only Paul and Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders voted against sanctions on the country, according to HuffPost.