Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said President Donald Trump should trust his gut with regards to Syria, but should be cautious when it comes to the Syrian civil war.
In an op-ed for CNN, Paul highlighted his attempt to stop President Obama’s involvement in the war in 2013, adding that he has been saying ever since that the United States has no justified presence in Syria. Paul and Trump were kindred spirits in calling for an end to foreign wars in their 2016 presidential campaigns.
Paul criticized Trump for the air strikes last week without congressional approval, and encourages the president to avoid long-term military involvement in Syria.
“Our foreign policy is a mess, and it needs to get smarter and better, fast,” Paul wrote in CNN.
“One of the things I liked most about President Trump when he ran for office was that he articulated a clearly different foreign policy. He had opposed the Iraq war. He opposed intervention in Libya and Syria, and he wanted to come home from Afghanistan.”
Paul, who has consistently called for an end to continued U.S. presence in the Middle East, slammed neoconservatives for continuing to spend taxpayer dollars on seemingly never-ending foreign wars.
He also criticized Trump’s appointment of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to Cabinet-level positions, adding that the new additions “are not the advisers needed for a president who wants fewer wars.”
“President Trump is listening far too much to the foreign policy swamp that he fought against,” he continued. “Our hawkish, neoconservative foreign policy and wars of the last 17 years have brought us trillions of dollars in debt and made us less safe. We need to rebuild here, not there. We need to rebuild our military, not overuse it policing the world and nation-building.”
Paul encouraged Trump to go with his first gut-instinct that was present during Trump’s presidential campaign in avoiding foreign wars, imploring him to take everything Bolton and Pompeo say with a grain of salt.
“Mr. President, trust your gut. Go with what you know to be true. The Afghanistan war should be over; our troops should leave. The Syrian civil war never should have been our fight. Let’s end our involvement.”
“We can and must fight against terrorism when it rears its ugly head,” he concluded. “We can do that in a smarter, constitutional way, and President Trump can lead our country in a new direction, as he seems to want to do. But he’ll have to stop listening to the people who caused so many problems and so much death and destruction over the past 17 years if he wants to make his goals reality.”