Rand Paul: 'What Authority Does Anyone Have to Go to War in Iraq?'

By Susan Jones | June 23, 2014 | 5:14am EDT

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says the war in Iraq isn't over until Congress formally declares it is over and repeals its authorization for the president to use military force there.

"In fact, you know, one of the important constitutional questions here is, what authority does anyone have to go to war in Iraq? I've been trying to take that authority away," Paul told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

In 2011, when President Obama declared that the Iraq war finally was over, Paul introduced an amendment to a defense authorization bill that would have formally ended the war by canceling congressional authorization for it. His goal was to prevent President Obama from invoking prior authorization to commit troops to combat.

"[C]an one generation bind another generation?" Paul asked on Sunday. "Can the people you elected in 2002, who voted to go to war in 2002, does that bind us forever? Are we -- are we at war forever, no geographic limit and no temporal or time limit on this?

"I think there has to be a limit, and that, if we go to war again -- and I'm not saying we never go to war. That's why I've even said I don't rule out airstrikes. But if we're going to go to war, there needs to be a vote of the American people through their representatives. We need to have a consensus that, yes, it is worth dying to regain Mosul even though the Shiites and the people who live there are not willing to fight for it."

Paul said he views the situation in Iraq on a "personal basis."

"I ask, do I want to send one of my sons or your son to fight to regain Mosul? And I think, well, yeah, these are nasty terrorists, shouldn't we want to kill them? But I think, who should want to stop them more? Maybe the people who live there. Should not the Shiites, the Maliki government, should they not stand up? And if they're ripping their uniforms off and fleeing, if they don't think Mosul's worth saving, how am I going to convince my son or your son to die for Mosul?

"I know they're bad terrorists, and yes, we should prevent them from exporting terror, but I'm not so sure where the clear-cut American interest is."

While Paul objects to Americans returning to the fight in Iraq, he said he doesn't question President Obama's decision to send 300 "advisers" to the country.

"I'm not sure exactly where they're going or what they're doing. I do think that we have an embassy there and we've got a thousand, 2,000 people there, that yes, we have to defend our embassy. So I'm not going to nitpick the president and say, oh, you shouldn't send in a certain amount of advisers.

"And the military decisions of protecting the embassy to me are very important. I've been taking a lot about Benghazi and how we didn't protect them, so I'm not going to get involved or criticize the president for trying to protect our embassy there."

Paul said for him, Benghazi is not a "political question."

"To me, it's not the talking points. That's never been the most important part of Benghazi. It's the six months leading up to Benghazi, where there were multiple requests for more security and it never came. This was under Hillary Clinton's watch. She will have to overcome that, and we will make her answer for Benghazi."

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