Sen. Rand Paul: Good Riddance to Bolton

Susan Jones | September 11, 2019 | 6:36am EDT
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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

( - "You know, I think the threat of war around the world is greatly diminished with Bolton out of the White House," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News's Neil Cavuto on Tuesday, after President Trump tweeted that National Security Advisor John Bolton had been removed from the job.

Paul said Bolton had his "own agenda" that did not jibe with the president's.

I think he had a naive point of view for the world, that we should topple regimes everywhere and institute Democratic governments, and we would make the world perfect or remake the world in our image," Paul said.

And frankly, it just doesn't work that way. There's a lot of history of getting rid of strongmen in the Middle East and having them replaced by vacuums or chaos, or actually making the place more hospitable for terrorist training.

So I think his idea that the way you deal with Iran is you just topple the government, or the way you deal with North Korea is you topple the government, really wasn't what the president has been talking about. The president's actually talking about not having regime change and finding a diplomatic solution to some of these conflicts around the world.

And I think the president deserves to have somebody who's his national security adviser who actually will try to further his policy, and not try to stymie it.

Paul, a non-interventionist, tends to favor diplomacy over regime change. And he said not every country must have a "perfect Thomas Jefferson leader."

The problem is, is when people like Bolton say, oh, we are going to topple Gaddafi and we're going to make Libya into this great American-style republic, they don't elect Thomas Jefferson. They elect another religious leader, who becomes an autocrat in place of one religious leader or one autocrat.

So, really, I think the Middle East and many of these places who've been ruled by strongmen, the answer isn't military regime change. And I think Bolton was very wrong and naive in his worldview. I'm glad to see him gone.

And I hope the president can find somebody who actually listens to what the president says. This president is extraordinary. In his State of the Union, he said great nations don't fight perpetual war. And he's absolutely right.

But that defies the orthodoxy of the establishment foreign policy in Washington. And so the president really needs to find somebody who has the guts to stand up to the orthodoxy, not someone who's part of the swamp.

Cavuto noted that Trump is now seeking his fourth national security adviser: "And a lot of people look at it and just say, well, what do you want? What do you stand for?"

"Well, I think the interesting thing is, if you look at Donald Trump over the last decade or more, one of the consistent themes that you will hear him speak of -- maybe for 20 or 30 years -- is the idea that regime change doesn't work," Paul said.

"He has said for a long, long time the Iraq War was a mistake. That we emboldened Iran by getting rid of Saddam Hussein, that there was a counterbalance in having Saddam Hussein there, and that that vacuum allowed ISIS to grow in that vacuum. And so, really, I think the president has been very, very consistent."

Paul advised Trump to "pick somebody who actually listens to what he says and wants to further his goals."

"I think the president could do something really heroic and dramatic in getting us out of the war in Afghanistan. And I think he would, if he didn't have people working for him who were contradicting and countermanding his orders and had their own agenda."

Paul refuted the notion that the U.S. has to "control land around the world to prevent terrorism."

"There's land everywhere. There is chaos in Africa. There is chaos in the Middle East. There's all kinds of places for terrorists to be. It's a foolish notion to think that America has to be all in those places, policing all those areas to prevent terrorism. No, we should be vigilant about who comes to our country. The people on 9/11 all came here legally, or the vast majority of them, and we didn't pay any attention.

"We should pay attention to those who would come to our country. We should have strict rules on who comes into our country. And we should have great intelligence around the world. But it doesn't mean we have to occupy every acre of the world."

Paul also questioned the U.S. mission in Afghanistan:

Is our mission to do nation building and spend $50 billion a year, $45 million on gas stations, billions of dollars on roads and schools? Is that our mission? Is our mission to defend the country? What's our mission in Afghanistan?

There's not one general out there that can tell you exactly what our mission is. Is our mission the Vietnam mission, to take one more village to get a better-negotiated settlement? Is that what we're there for?

There is no national security reason to be there. There is no Al Qaeda. There's a -- you know, might be 10 people in Al Qaeda left there. All of the leadership's been destroyed. The Taliban are fighting against foreign fighters.

The Taliban aren't this international organization that's going to come to the United States. They're people who have been fighting historically for over 100 years. Every time foreign fighters come, they try to expel the foreign fighters.


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