Why are we still at war in Afghanistan?
Why are we dropping bombs in Afghanistan?
Why have we been “helping” Afghanistan for 10 years or more?
Why is anyone giving the time of day to Carly Fiorina or armchair warrior Marco Rubio, when they’re both spoiling for fights that’ll dwarf the wars Obama has waged on Libya, in Syria and Afghanistan?
Why is Rand Paul the only one asking?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
WOLF BLITZER: Let me get your reaction to what we just heard from the executive director of Doctors Without Borders, who doesn’t believe it was a mistake, that it was deliberate, that it was potentially a war crime. Your reaction?
PAUL: You know, there’s been a lot of confusion in the response. Was it an accident or was it done on purpose? It appears as if the coordinates were given to somebody, because they kept repeatedly bombing the same site. But I think it goes to a bigger question, and this is a question that President Obama should have to answer, why are we still at war in Afghanistan? What is the U.S. objective? What’s the U.S. mission? And why are we bombing anybody in Afghan?
I think we had a clear cut mission after 9/11, but that’s been long gone for many years now. And I think really that the Afghans need to step up and defend themselves. But there’s no reason for the U.S. to be involved there at all at this point. And tragic accidents will happen when you’re involved with war, but I don’t see why we’re still involved in Afghanistan.
BLITZER: Well, I’m going to get to that in a moment, but you’re a physician, you’re a doctor, do you agree with the executive director of Doctors Without Borders that in addition to the U.S. investigation, the NATO investigation, the Afghan investigation, there should also be an impartial outside international investigation?
PAUL: Yes, I don’t mind an outside international investigation, but somebody needs to step up and say, why are we there and what is the policy? Doctors and hospitals should never be targeted, and so that’s completely unacceptable. But if it’s an accident, it’s still a bad policy because why are we dropping bombs in Afghanistan. We’ve been helping them for 10 years or more. They should step up and they should be able to combat against any insurgency. And there is not a clear-cut U.S. role. And if we’re to be back at war in Afghanistan, the president should come to Congress and ask for permission, and we should say why we are at war and have a debate over that, but we shouldn’t be in perpetual war all around the globe.
BLITZER: The argument is, if the U.S., the NATO allies, were to completely pull out, it would be a disaster. The Taliban, potentially, could take over and Afghanistan would be back to where it was before 9/11.
PAUL: Well, I guess my question would be, why? We’ve given them billions and billions of dollars. We’ve spent more in Afghanistan than we did in the Marshall Plan. Why can’t they defend themselves after a decade? Will we have to defend them in perpetuity? No, I don’t think we should have a perpetual war over there and I think often people will not stand up and defend themselves if we’re doing the defending. So they are doing more of the ground activity, but I think their entire defense, minus maybe some armaments and some support, but really we should not be at war in Afghanistan. They should be able, after a decade or more, to defend themselves.
BLITZER: What about the Russian involvement in Syria right now? If you were president of the United States, what would you do about that?
PAUL: Well, I think the first thing that’s very, very important is to have open lines of communication. We have some in the primary, Carly Fiorina mostly, who says she doesn’t want to talk to Putin and she’s ready to use force against the Russians. Well, man, are we lucky she wasn’t president during the Cold War because we did keep open lines of communication throughout the Cold War. We’re in very close proximity over there. and the last thing we need is an accident where we shoot down one of the Russians or vice versa. So I think we need to know where everyone is flying, what everyone’s role is and if we can find common ground with trying to destroy ISIS. And I’m very worried about an accident happening over there and I’m also very worried about some Republicans who want to have no dialogue, because that’s a recipe for a disaster.
[13:20:10] BLITZER: So you basically want — what you’ve described in the past to me as a noninterventionist policy. You’re not an isolationist, but you want to be really careful about the U.S. getting involved in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, other international hot spots?
PAUL: But the interesting thing, it’s kind of the opposite of isolationism. I’m for diplomatic engagement. The people like Carly Fiorina, they want to diplomatically isolate us and not have any discussions with Putin. I think that is very much a mistake. So I’m for diplomatic engagement. I am for being involved. And I am for saying, you know what, let’s be very careful that we don’t do something rash that might start world war three.
And let’s also realize from history how we got to this point. Saddam Hussein, once he was toppled, made Iran stronger. Iran and Iraq are now allies. They’re also allies with Syria. Now they’re allied with Russia. So I would argue that the Iraq War was a mistake and it actually enabled Russia to become stronger in the region, and that’s what we need to think about before we topple another dictator, what are the unintended consequences of toppling dictators in the Middle East?
BLITZER: If you were elected president, on a domestic issue, what, if anything, would you do to tighten up gun control issues in the United States?
PAUL: Well, I think it’s a terrible tragedy and, you know, my heart goes out to the families. I’ve got a couple kids in college and in high school, and I can’t imagine, you know, something like that happening in a school. But the thing is, they already have universal registration in Oregon. They have significant gun registration laws. And I just don’t think that more controls are the answer.
I do think that we should not preannounce to the public, to the potentially crazy and homicidal people out there that there are places they can go to shoot people. And that’s what we’ve done with our schools. We say, well, there are no armed guards, there are no armed teachers, there are no armed off duty policemen, and I think that’s a mistake. I think we should do the opposite. I think we should announce across America that there are not going to be gun-free zones where you can go and shoot people. And I think if we did, that there is some deterrent effect.
I believe the same for our commercial airliners. After 9/11, I was a big proponent of making sure our pilots were armed and I have bills now to try to facilitate that. I want every potential jihadists and terrorist in the world to know that our pilots are armed and that if you come into the cockpit, you will be shot. And so I think there is a deterrent effect from guns. There obviously is the destruction when a crazy people uses a gun, but there also can be deterrents from guns. And I saw an example yesterday. I think it was a vo-lock (ph) conspiracy website was talking about many instances where shooters have been stopped by having an armed person in the right place at the right time. BLITZER: Senator Paul, thanks very much for joining us.