In the wake of Donald Trump‘s unilateral decision to kill Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani, Republican Sen. Rand Paul has been critical of the lack of intelligence provided during a briefing on the mission. During a Sunday appearance on NBC News’ Meet the Press, Paul continued to express his belief that Congress must be brought into the debate of further action on Iran, Newsweek reports.
Paul claimed that U.S. commanders and generals have privately complained about the lack of a clear mission in the wars that the U.S. has participated in in the Middle Easter for over a decade. He said that both he and Trump share the desire to bring the troops home, but suggested Trump was being influenced by allies that were supportive of the Iraq War — a view he does not believe is shared by most Americans.
The Kentucky senator took particular issue with Republicans leaning on the 2002 congressional vote to authorize military action against Saddam Hussein to justify circumventing Congress for current action against Iran.
“This is what really infuriated me about the briefing, that a vote in Congress in 2002 to go after Saddam Hussein was a vote that now allows them to still be in Iraq and do whatever they want, including killing a foreign general in Iran. I don’t think that’s what Congress meant in 2002, nor do I think one generation can bind another generation.”
According to Paul — who claims that most of his GOP colleagues are neoconservatives who “don’t care about the Constitution” — the president is being influenced by Washington war hawks who don’t have the best interests of the American people in mind. The 57-year-old politician claims that some of the Republicans who have Trump’s ear have convinced him that withdrawal in the Middle East reflects badly on the strength of the U.S. and called for a “full-throated” debate on the issue in Congress.
“The majority of American people want to come home, they don’t understand why we’re still there. I want to have that debate and I want to bring our kids home.”
"He keeps supporting people to represent him that think the Iraq War was just great … I do think his instincts are pure." pic.twitter.com/Igu0dxGS84
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 12, 2020
Per The Washington Examiner, Paul also used his appearance to note that Trump is not the first president to engage in military conflict without authorization from Congress. He pointed to the many alleged military strikes former President Barack Obama ordered without congressional approval, likely referring to the over 500 drone strikes ordered during his time in office.
Paul previously expressed his belief that the power to declare war has been drifting from Congress for years, pointing to Obama, George W. Bush, Harry S. Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson, all of whom he said were guilty of “usurping war powers.”
In such cases, presidents leaned on the powers granted by Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, which gives the president authority over the U.S. military, ignoring Article I, Section 8, which provides Congress authority to declare war.