GOP Senator Rand Paul Rails Against Middle East Wars, Demands That Congress Debate Iran: 'Bring Our Kids Home'

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul railed against endless wars in the Middle East and criticized the Trump administration's "arrogant" belief they can avoid congressional debate over Iran by citing the failure that is the Iraq War.

The Republican senator said U.S. commanders and generals have privately complained "there is no mission" in Afghanistan, Iraq or other Middle East nations for more than a decade. Paul was joined by fellow GOP Senator Mike Lee last week in criticizing the Trump administration's attempt to sideline Congress after the president decided to kill Iranian general Qassem Soleimani without congressional approval.

Paul told NBC News' Meet the Press Sunday that he and Trump both want to bring troops home, but the president continues to surround himself with people who believe "the Iraq War was just great."

Paul repeatedly stated that he and a majority of Americans don't want their children dying in Middle East wars that "can't be won."

The GOP senator said the president's foreign policy instincts are "pure," but he blasted Republicans for pointing to a 2002 vote in Congress that authorized an attack on Saddam Hussein as justification for sidestepping congressional approval in 2020.

"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.

"President Trump has been very consistent in saying he doesn't want perpetual war, but I have pushed back and said, 'If you keep sending more troops, you will have perpetual war.' The troops are merely targets. We really need to have a debate about whether we should still be in Iraq or Afghanistan, and we need authorization from Congress."

Paul said the Trump administration has put forth "contradictory information" and described Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Iran statements in public and private as "inconsistent."

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd and Paul both agreed Trump's refusal to inform Congress about his plans because he doesn't want to tell his political opponents is nothing new. Paul commended Trump's "remarkable restraint" in terms of military authorization, but said he's not afraid to "stand up to a president of my own party" to ensure Congress always has a say.

Paul, however, expressed deep concern about Washington war hawks who surround the president and influence his decisions.

"[Trump] keeps supporting people to represent him that think the Iraq War was just great ... I do think his instincts are pure ... It troubles me that in private, commanders and generals have been saying for more than a decade that there is no mission in Afghanistan. We had two young men die there this week. I don't want to send these young men and women to war if there is no mission and if the generals are privately saying it can't be won."

The GOP senator said some Republicans who insert themselves in Trump's inner circle have managed to convince him that leaving the Middle East makes the U.S. and his administration look "weak."

"Here's the great irony of the Iraq War and this is something Trump gets incredibly right: that since the Iraq War, we now have an Iraq that is more aligned with Iran than us," Paul continued. "We're trying to force them to keep our troops, the irony of that is glaring. We need to have a full-throated debate on this 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."

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Kentucky Senator Rand Paul railed against endless wars in the Middle East and criticized the Trump administration's "arrogant" belief they can avoid congressional debate over Iran by citing the failure that is the Iraq War. NICHOLAS KAMM/ AFP/Getty Images
GOP Senator Rand Paul Rails Against Middle East Wars, Demands That Congress Debate Iran: 'Bring Our Kids Home' | Politics