Meet the Press   |  September 01, 2013

Paul: 'I don't see American interests involved' in Syrian civil war

Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul says there's no "clear-cut American interest" in the potential U.S. intervention in the Syrian conflict.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> it seems to me, senator, that what the president is saying in that drafted resolution that he's lyde congress to authorize, that the united states must draw a line at the use of chemical weapons , any weapons of mass destruction , in war, that you simply cannot allow it and that if we strike assad and he uses them again, i heard secretary kerry say that the united states might strike assad again if he uses the weapons. why not draw that line in the sand as the president wants you to and say we can't allow wmd to be used?

>> i think the line in the sand should be that america gets involved when american interests are threatened. i don't see american interests involved on either side of this syrian war . i see assad , who has protected christians for a number of decades, and then i see the islamic rebels on the other side who have been attacking christians . i see al qaeda on one side, the side we would go in to support, and i see it to be murky. i don't see a clear-cut american interest. i don't see either party that is victorious victorious, if either is victorious, being an american ally.

>> you are a united states senator . you may at some point be a candidate for the presidency. how would the united states look if the president says i have decided to take military action, i want congress to give me authority, and congress does not give that authority?

>> i think it would show that he made a grave mistake when he drew a red line . i think a president should be very careful about setting red lines he's not going to keep. but then again, when you set a red line that was not a good idea in the beginning with, and now you're going to adhere to it or try to show your machismo, i think then you're trying to save face and really adding bad policy to bad policy.

>> your colleagues in the senate like senator mccain and senator graham, you've tangled with them on some of these matters before. they've made it very clear that the only resolution they would support must go farther. it must essentially really push assad from power. secretary kerry is likening assad to saddam hussein and adolf hitler . you don't see a vital american interest despite those arguments?

>> no, but i think they make an interesting and a valid point. if we're going to launch cruise missiles and it's not going to affect the outcome, basically what they're pushing for, and my interpretation of the current obama administration's policy, is they want to fight for stalemate, then they want to negotiate a settlement. they think that assad has the upper hand now. they want to balance it out. but what i've told them is i'm not sending my son, your son, or anybody else's son to fight for stalemate. you know, when we fight, we fight when we have to, but i see things in a very personal basis. you know, i see a young john kerry who went to war, and i wish he would remember more of how awful war is and that it shouldn't be a desired outcome. neither are chemical weapons , and they should absolutely be condemned, but i think the failure of the obama administration has been we haven't engaged the russians enough or the chinese enough on this, and i think they were engaged. i think there's a possibility assad could already be gone. the russians have every reason to want to keep their influence in syria, and i think the only way they do is if there's a change in government where assad has gone but some of the same people remain stable. that would also be good for the christians . i think the islamic rebels winning is a bad idea for the christians and all of a sudden we'll have another islamic state where christians are persecuted. so i think really the best outcome for all the major powers would be a peaceful transition government, and russia could influence that if they told assad no more weapons.

>> nor paul, we he'll leave it there. thank you for your views this morning.