- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 23, 2018

Many if not most Republicans were taken aback by President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, but not Sen. Rand Paul.

The Kentucky Republican and libertarian standard-bearer said he was “very proud” of Mr. Trump for his decision last week to exit Syria, which spurred both Defense Secretary James Mattis and presidential special envoy Brett McGurk to submit their resignations.

“I’m very proud of the president. This is exactly what he promised,” said Mr. Paul on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And I think the people agree with him actually. I think people believe we’ve been at war too long in too many places, and we do need to turn attention to problems we have at home here: roads, bridges, schools.”

He argued that such policies contributed to Mr. Trump’s unexpected election victory in 2016.

“We’ve spent several trillion dollars on these wars everywhere, and I think the president promised he’d be different, and it’s really one of the reasons he won,” Mr. Paul said. “Because he actually attracts independents who aren’t beholden to either party who say, you know what? Why don’t we turn attention back to America?”

Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, could not have disagreed more, saying, “I’m saddened for our country in being so unreliable.”

“We’re just a few months away from finishing something that we started where we would annihilate a large number of ISIS members, and we stopped,” said Mr. Corker, pointing to the “many Kurds and others that likely will be killed and slaughtered by either the Syrians or the Turks.”

Mr. Paul argued that the continued presence of U.S. troops has actually fueled terrorism, adding that it was time for the “Muslims who live in these lands to police the Muslims who live in these lands.”

“If it’s Americans, it’ll always be seen by those who live there as some sort of religious crusade, and it encourages more terrorism, so the sooner we get out of that mess, the better,” Mr. Paul said.

He also agreed with the president’s declaration of victory over the terrorist group ISIS, saying “he’s exactly right.”

“We took back 99 percent of their land,” said Mr. Paul. “Aren’t these people going to stand up now and fight for themselves? Can they not do anything?”

If problems arise, he said, the U.S. military is so technologically advanced and widespread that “we can attack on a moment’s notice from anywhere in the planet, so us leaving doesn’t mean we don’t have to be involved.”

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