Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made an appearance on CNN where he discussed the fall-out over last week’s drone assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani outside of a Baghdad airport by the Trump administration.
After CNN host Wolf Blitzer asked Paul whether the Soleimani strike made U.S. more or less safe, he warned of possible blowback emanating from the attack.
“I think the stated purpose of the administration was that they were going to prevent attacks on Americans, but I think if you ask the question now: is it more or less likely that there will be attacks on Americans? I think it’s much more likely,” Paul said in response to Blitzer.
“The replacement for Soleimani is basically a clone. Somebody who is a hardliner, someone who has worked with Soleimani for 20-some odd years, and so while Soleimani may have been plotting attacks and probably was, it is now a certainty that there will be attacks in revenge for his killing,” he explained.
Paul also said the attack on Soleimani will embolden the Islamic Republic of Iran and unite Iranians around the regime. The attack will undermine protests that had the theocratic government on its heels in recent months.
“The other unintended consequence here is you saw the chanting in the streets of Tehran. This has emboldened the hardliners. Iran is like any other country. There is a mixture of opinion. There are hardliners that never want to talk to America at all, death to America, but there are moderates and younger people who do like the West and would talk to us,” Paul explained.
“I think what this does is it lessens the voices of anyone who wants moderation and diplomacy, and even the Iranians will not be able to approach us on diplomacy until there is revenge, until there is adequate revenge to satiate the people who want some kind of revenge, 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. I don’t see a way out of this,” he added.
Paul explained that although President Trump evicted neocon John Bolton from the administration, he has retained Bolton’s hawkish neocon mindset regarding Iran nevertheless.
“The administration, mainly at John Bolton’s behest, tore up the Iran agreement, placed a significant severe embargo on Iran, and then killed one of their major generals. Nobody in their right mind would actually think that would lead to negotiations,” Paul said.
Paul called out Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his insulting notion that White House policy is aimed around getting Iran back to the negotiating table for peace talks.
“No naive child would believe that. 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?’ I mean, military escalation is really what you would predict with this,” Paul said.
“And I want to be careful that nothing justifies their military action, but it is predictable given what path we have chosen,” he added.
Paul gave Pompeo the benefit of the doubt that the rotund cabinet member wants what is best for America, but criticized the Secretary of State’s “grade school” child mentality in making calculations regarding foreign affairs.
“I think what happens next is now an inevitability that there will be not just one but multiple escalations of this on the part of Iran, and that there is no foreseeable off-ramp because… in order to save face, they are going to have to do tit-for-tat. That will be their response, and none of this justifies it, but that’s what’s going to happen,” he said.
Paul said that he will likely support a resolution that would restrain President Trump from initiating a war with Iran without the approval of Congress.
“Whether it’s been a Republican president or a Democrat president, I have been a stickler that the way to make war rare is to make it where you have to actually vote on it in Congress, and it has to be overwhelming,” Paul explained.
“Nobody is really proposing all-out war. What we are proposing is something that will fester and go on and on and drips and drabs of intermittent violence for decades if not generations, and I see no end to this and no real success to what has happened,” Paul concluded to sum up the folly of the Trump administration’s Iran policy.
Paul’s entire interview with Blitzer can be seen here: