ABC(NEW YORK) — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul doubled down on his support of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria in an appearance on ABC’s The View Friday, saying leaving the troops in northern Syria would just overextend the military.
“I think the Iraq war, and the regime change in the Middle East are senseless, and so does President Trump. He doesn’t want to get involved in another Iraq war in Syria,” Paul said. “In anything, Syria is more complicated.”
Since Trump made the announcement on Sunday — which came as a surprise to the Kurdish forces, lawmakers and even members of his own cabinet — he has faced harsh criticism from across the political spectrum. Republican senators who usually stand in lock step with Trump said the move amounted to abandoning Syrian-Kurdish fighters who had fought ISIS alongside American troops, potentially opening the door for at least 10,000 ISIS prisoners to escape and Turkey to invade the region.”
Paul, too, has faced backlash after he posted on Twitter Monday in support of the president’s decision, saying Trump was fulfilling “his promises to stop our endless war and have a true America First foreign policy.”
I stand with @realDonaldTrump today as he once again fulfills his promises to stop our endless wars and have a true America First foreign policy.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 7, 2019
Paul’s support comes as many of his GOP colleagues, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, have publicly opposed the decision, warning that it will damage trust with other U.S. allies and put the lives of Kurdish forces at risk.
The U.S.-backed Kurdish allies — who lost 11,000 soldiers in the war against ISIS — have seen at least 23 fighters killed since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched an assault of northern Syria on Wednesday, following Trump’s announcement Sunday night that the U.S. would withdraw all troops from the region.
Erdoğan has warned European leaders that if they call this an invasion, he’ll open his borders and send 3.6 million refugees their way.
The View co-host Meghan McCain has openly criticized the administration’s decision all week.
“There is blood on anyone’s hands, starting with [Paul] and President Trump’s, letting this happen because there are people being slaughtered after standing with our troops in the Middle East for an extremely long time fighting against terror cells,” she said during Thursday’s episode. “The whole point of having proxies is so we don’t get into another war. And I’m sorry… have we not learned the lessons of 9/11? And I don’t understand it!”
McCain, a conservative pundit, was absent from Tuesday’s show but her colleagues stepped in to question the senator.
On Thursday, Trump tasked the State Department with mediating a possible deal between Turkey and the Kurds, following a second day of Turkish airstrikes and artillery targeting America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria who helped defeat the Islamic State.
The hosts also questioned Paul on his loyalty to Trump amidst the ever-growing controversy surrounding the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. The inquiry centers on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump encouraged Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a political opponent, and his son Hunter, over still-unfounded corruption allegations.
Paul evaded the question, not directly agreeing or disagreeing whether asking a foreign leader to aid in a political campaign is right or wrong.
Paul appeared on the show to promote his new book, The Case Against Socialism in which he argues an expanded welfare state will cripple an economy built on capitalism.
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